"Lincoln Way" Papers, 1913-1915 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection contains materials regarding the investigation of the "Lincoln Way," the route traveled by the Lincoln family when moving from Indiana to Illinois in 1830, including two reports written by Charles Manfred Thompson, as well as correspondence and legal affidavits gathered by Thompson for his research.
Charles M. Thompson (1877-1963) received a doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1913. He joined the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois in 1912 and served as Dean of the College of Commerce and Business Administration from 1919-1942. In 1911, Thompson was appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library to investigate the "Lincoln Way," the route traveled by the Lincoln family in moving from Indiana to Illinois in 1830. Members of the family included Abraham Lincoln; his father, Thomas Lincoln; his stepmother, Sarah Lincoln; and his stepbrother, John Johnston. A lack of firsthand documentary evidence from the Lincoln family made it difficult to determine the exact route they traveled in 1830. Thompson published his findings in two reports submitted to the Illinois State Historical Library in 1913 and 1915.
This collection contains two reports written by Charles M. Thompson, a preliminary report entitled The Lincoln Way (1913) and a final report entitled Investigation of the Lincoln Way (1915). The reports present evidence regarding the route the Lincoln family traveled in 1830 when moving from Spencer County, Indiana, to Macon County, Illinois. Thompson found that the Lincolns entered Illinois through a point on the Illinois bank of the Wabash River opposite Vincennes, Indiana, and passed through eastern Illinois towns including Lawrenceville, Russellville, Palestine, Nelson, and Decatur, among others, before settling at what became known as the "Lincoln Farm" in Macon County.
The collection also contains materials gathered by Thompson in his research, namely correspondence, newspaper clippings, and handwritten notes regarding the investigation. Among the correspondents were Jesse W. Weik and Albert J. Beveridge, notable Lincoln biographers. In addition, the collection contains legal affidavits from Clark, Coles, and Knox counties that document oral testimonies regarding the "Lincoln Way," which Thompson utilized in his reports.
The collection was brought together from files in the Illinois Historical Survey, predecessor to the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, prior to 1956.