Looking for Lincoln
John G. Shastid moved his family to Pittsfield in 1836 from
New Salem, where he had been a neighbor to Abraham Lincoln.
Pittsfield was the county seat, yet there were only six houses here at the time. John bought one of them. Finding the house too small for his family, he built this larger white frame house in the same yard in 1838. John was a farmer who had but three months of formal schooling. Yet he was literate and valued book learning. His grandson recalled that he knew almost the whole New Testament and Fox's Book of Martyrs
by heart. John was a man of few words. So it made a deep impression on the family when, on hearing that President Lincoln had been shot, he gathered them about him to utter a deeply felt six syllable prayer pleading for Lincoln's life. Later that day, when a boisterous young man loudly exclaimed his satisfaction that "Old Lincoln is dead," the sixty-seven-year-old Shastid knocked him to the ground in one solid punch that rendered him senseless.
Mother Shastid once
asked Lincoln to view the flower garden she kept at the house. Lincoln replied, "I will look at your flowers, Mother, but I really cannot understand what people see to admire such things. I am somewhat deficient."
On the basis of this story, family members have speculated that Abraham Lincoln must
have been colorblind. Dr. Thomas W. Shastid, as a boy, jealously watched Lincoln devour a platter of pigeons. He heard both Lincoln and Stephen Douglas deliver speeches in town. He considered the lion-voiced Douglas to be the better and the high-pitched Lincoln to be the better analyst.
Abraham Lincoln visited
the Shastids when in Pittsfield. John's son Tom told of his father returning from hunting with a dozen "wild pigeons." Tom and his siblings waited wide-eyed and hungry for the pigeons to cook. Suddenly, the door burst open, and there stood Lincoln. Mrs. Shastid ushered him to the head of the table and placed the platter of pigeons before him. At first, Lincoln talked vivaciously. Then, he fell completely silent and ate voraciously. One by one, the pigeons disappeared. A gesture from Tom's mother kept the children from calling for pigeon. After a short time, Lincoln, still abstracted, reached out his fork for the last pigeon, took it to his own plate, and began to eat it. At this juncture, little Tom burst into tears and cried: "Abe Lincoln, you're an old hog."