“Lincoln and the Woodford County Courthouse at Metamora”

METAMORA – The Annual Fall Meeting and Program of The Illinois Mennonite Historical & Genealogical Society will be held at the Metamora Courthouse State Historic Site on Saturday, October 19, beginning at 9:00 AM. This program is open to the public, and everyone is welcome! Parking will be available on the east and west sides of the Metamora Square and behind the courthouse off the alley, and a handicapped-accessible entrance is available behind the Courthouse.

After the short business meeting, Curator Jean Myers will provide a tour of the Metamora Courthouse and give a talk regarding the courtroom and some of the cases handled there by Abraham Lincoln. Included in these will be:  the Melissa Goings murder trial, a cow theft case handled in the middle of a cholera epidemic, and the trial of two abolitionists.   Presentation of the annual Stalter Award will take place at the Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center, where a light lunch will be served following the program at the Metamora Courthouse.

The Courthouse building was built in 1845 and served as the center of Woodford County government until the county seat was moved to Eureka in 1896. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, one of only two surviving courthouses on the historic Eighth Judicial Circuit traveled by Abraham Lincoln during the spring and fall sessions of the circuit court.  The Courthouse contains displays related to the 1850s court system as well as artifacts of early local history on the first floor, which is handicapped-accessible. The former courtroom and its associated chambers for judge and jury are on display on the second floor. The Metamora Courthouse is open for guided tours March through October, Tues.-Sat., 1:00-5:00 p.m. and November through February, 12:00-4:00 p.m. and hosts an annual afternoon “Christmas in the Courthouse” on the second Sunday in December.  It is free and open to the public.

Mr. Myers has been the curator and manager of the Metamora Courthouse State Historic Site since January of 2004.  He retired as head of the emergency mental health services in Peoria in 2002 after 26 years with the Human Service Center; he also served as director of the Whitman Medical Detoxification Center, the Central Illinois Center for the Treatment of Addictions, and the Emergency Response Service.

The Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center is open April through October, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sundays from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.  Tours, $2 for adults, include the Sutter barn (livestock) and agricultural (machinery) museums, the prairie plot with native Illinois trees and grasses, museum of household and church artifacts, a library of Anabaptist history and genealogy, and archival holdings.