I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
Home | Columns |
Photos | Books
| Biography | Mental
Health | Links
Purported Lincoln photo remains a mystery
By Barry Schrader.................................October
A framed photo dating back to August 1858 has been hanging
in the Marie Louise Olmstead Museum in Somonauk for decades and
has been the subject of much speculation and research over the
Now three Leland history buffs have renewed
the effort to identify some of the people in the photo at the
time of the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Ottawa and hope to prove
one of the men in a tall stovepipe hat is actually Abraham Lincoln.
Time has taken its toll on the print that was made
some 152 years ago from a glass negative, and the faces are almost
all washed out.
The three men who decided to pursue
expert opinions and employ more high-tech photography tools this
summer are Gerard Brouwer, Bevin Wold and his father, Chet Wold.
Bevin is a history graduate of the University of Illinois.
They believe a man in the front of the group standing
outside the home in Ottawa is W.H.L. Wallace, who arranged details
of the debate. He later served as a brigadier general in the
Union Army and was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862.
Also evident in the photo is the carriage used to
transport Lincoln to the debate and is now in the LaSalle County
Historical Museum in Utica.
Once they discovered
the photo still at the museum where it was written about in an
Ottawa newspaper in 1941, they received permission from the museum
board to remove it and have it examined.
Chet Wold and his father, Bevin Wold
A closeup enlargement of a portion of the Ottawa photo
shows two men in back by the pillars, one of whom could be Abraham
Lincoln. Another man in a white jacket is also possibly Lincoln
because photos of him in such a coat during that time exist as
A group from the museum board and the researchers took it to
a photography studio in Chicago where photo expert David Phillips
scanned and enlarged it to poster size. They counted some 50
people in the photo, with a horse and carriage and a barn in
the background. The house with pillars at the corner of Paul
and Superior streets was owned by H.F. Eames and was later moved
to 118 E. Lafayette St. and remodeled, but still exists in the
Bevin says it appears Stephen A. Douglas,
the other debater, was not in the photo, but they are contacting
Ottawa area historians and old-timers to try and identify others
who still may be recognizable by their descendants.
digital enhancement is needed to try and authenticate Lincoln
as one figure in the photo, but the Wolds plan to pursue this
until all technical methods are exhausted.
the same time the Leland Civil War buffs are working on a research
project to find out all they can about the 18 men from their
town who enlisted in the Union Army in 1862.
men, all Scandinavian in descent, were assigned to the 82nd Illinois
Volunteers and were involved in several major battles during
the war. More information on their research can be found at www.thestaryflag.com.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115