Mt. Pulaski Courthouse State Historic Site
Come and learn about Abraham Lincoln, The Lawyer.
By 1846, Mount Pulaski's population was growing quickly, and the town was advancing commercially too. A movement was organized and a bill was introduced and passed February 23, 1847 for the county seat to be moved from Postville (then called Camden) to Mount Pulaski. An election was held in April, where the majority was in favor of the move. The removal of the county seat, however, was contingent upon the Mount Pulaski residents to construct a courthouse. Funds were raised, and residents donated their services and materials to erect the building. Once it was completed, the circuit court met there in the spring of 1848. This Courthouse was one of fourteen stops on the Eighth Judicial Circuit. It is now only one of two remaining courthouses left from the old circuit on their original site.
Court was held twice a year, in April and September. Abraham Lincoln came and argued cases at the Mount Pulaski Courthouse and it is said he attended court at least eight times here. Lincoln had two well known trials, the "Horological Cradle Case" and the "Cast Iron Tombstone Case". It remains a mystery of how many other cases were won or lost by Lincoln due to an unfortunate fire that destroyed the court records in 1857.
In 1855, the county seat moved to the new city of Lincoln and the courthouse was given to the Mount Pulaski school district. There was an addition of a bell tower to the building and the courthouse served as a school from 1857 to 1878. After a new school was built, the courthouse was turned over to the city officials and was used as a post office until 1936. The courthouse was sold to the State of Illinois for $1.00. The State fully restored the building and filled it with the appropriate 1850s era furniture and publicly opened it in 1939. Today, the courthouse is staffed by volunteers and one site-manager.
For more information, please visit the historic site and take the free 20 minute tour.
Mount Pulaski Courthouse
113 S. Washington St. Mount Pulaski, Il 62548
Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday through Saturday