— Looking for Lincoln —
Lincoln's journeys to Monticello were sometimes difficult because of the weather and his lack of popularity on some issues.
Lincoln, Judge David Davis, and other members of the Bar were trying to reach Monticello in the spring of 1852, having ridden from Clinton in the rain. When they arrived at the ferry across the Sangamon River, about one mile west of town, there was no ferryman. After waiting for two hours, they swam their horses and straddled the buggy on a canoe to float across. Lincoln, the Judge, and others then rode comfortably in another canoe. In 1856, when Lincoln came to speak, he encountered many Virginians who were opposed to him and his stand on slavery. Emotions ran high that day, and many men came in order to stop the speech. Lincoln had only two escorts - - his old friend Ezra Marquiss and Mr. Guy. Lincoln and his escorts were followed by jeering men ready to throw eggs at the slightest provocation. He turned to them, and in his inimitable manner started telling stories and jokes, making them forget their prejudices against them.
Ezra marquiss lived out his life in Goose Creek Township, playing a great part in its development. His daughter Clarinda married William H. Piatt, who also was one of the county's early leaders. Ezra was "Mr. Republican" of his day, being the first person to declare for the new Republican Party in 1856. During his lifetime he held several public offices including Commissioner, a member of the Circuit Court appointed to review swamplands in the county. He was one of three men to carry a petition into DeWitt County to strike off a new county, Piatt, from Macon and DeWitt Counties.
While court was recessed, lawyers often found many ways to entertain themselves. One such story involves Lincoln's prowess as an athlete. Lincoln, Squire Wiley, and John McDougal were entertaining themselves and a crowd of loafers by seeing who could throw an old ax the farthest. They were standing on the southwest corner of the square throwing west. After each had made several trials, Lincoln swung the meat ax around his head and sent it westward into Lizard Run. When McDougal saw the ax fall so much farther than any of the other throws he realized that Lincoln had been baiting them and said: "Why didn't you do that in the first place? Here I've been almost throwing my arm off trying to beat you."
The image shows the southwest corner of the Square near the area of the competition.