The second Hancock County Courthouse completed just before the spring docket of 1839, was new when Lincoln lost his court case here. The Fraim murder case was one of the first trials to be held in the new building. Court and county offices were on the first floor and a well-lighted courtroom on the second. The courthouse was demolished to make room for the current courthouse, completed in 1908. (Right) Judge James H. Ralston, a Democrat from Quincy who occasionally provided legal counsel to Joseph Smith, presided over the Fraim trial.
Illinois juries usually acquitted defendants in murder trials in Lincoln's day—-which made the Fraim case even more remarkable. (Lincoln's clients escaped execution in twenty-five out of twenty-six murder cases where he was defense attorney.) The relative infrequency of public hangings made them memorable local events in frontier Illinois. The people of Carthage were typical of the time in their enthusiastic attendance. Officials constructed a special gallows in a kind of natural amphitheater in a field just southeast of town. School was dismissed for children to attend; many families treated the affair as a kind of picnic. Carthage did not experience another murder trial in its courthouse until six years later, when in May 1845 a local jury followed the usual pattern and acquitted all defendants accused of the murder of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet.
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|Series||This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series|
|Marker Condition||No reports yet|
|Date Added||Monday, September 15th, 2014 at 1:52pm PDT -07:00|
|UTM (WGS84 Datum)||15T E 658194 N 4475289|
|Decimal Degrees||40.41320000, -91.13550000|
|Degrees and Decimal Minutes||N 40° 24.792', W 91° 8.13'|
|Degrees, Minutes and Seconds||40° 24' 47.52" N, 91° 8' 7.80" W|
|Driving Directions||Google Maps|
|Closest Postal Address||At or near 500-552 Main St, Carthage IL 62321, US|
|Alternative Maps||Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap|