Macon County History Museum to Host Lincoln and Illinois State Talk, Enoch Gastman Aug. 7 – Decatur Tribune
The public is invited to a free one-hour program on two central Illinois topics at the Macon County History Museum on Sunday, August 7 at 1:30 p.m. Tom Emery, award-winning Carlinville historical scholar, is the featured speaker, and returns to the museum for his sixth appearance since 2013. Emery will spend part of the hour discussing his groundbreaking 2020 work, Abraham Lincoln and the Heritage of Illinois State University. He will use the rest of the time to talk about Enoch Gastman, a towering figure in the history of early Decatur education. Emery raves about the Macon County History Museum and its audience.
“I love coming there,” he said. “The customers and the crowds are exceptional. It’s one of my favorite places and I have many good memories there.
The first student in Illinois State University history, Gastman spent forty-seven years as a teacher and principal in the Decatur School District. Emery will cover many aspects of Gastman’s professional and personal life and highlight the many challenges Gastman has successfully overcome. Throughout his long life, Gastman was a revered figure not only in Decatur, but throughout the state and nation. A bust of Gastman now adorns the Macon County History Museum, a testament to his legacy.
Critics believe that Emery’s 288-page work on Lincoln and the ISU is a significant contribution to the field of Lincoln studies. The book was called “monumental” by Dr. Wayne Temple of Springfield, who has been called “Lincoln’s greatest living scholar”. Lincoln served as an attorney for the State Board of Education, which oversaw the early state of Illinois, and drafted the bond to secure funding for the university. In doing so, Lincoln ensured that the university would be located in Bloomington-Normal. Many of Illinois’ early state backers were Lincoln’s closest allies and friends in Bloomington-Normal.
Lincoln was also close to some of the early professors at ISU as well as several members of the early Boards of Education. Additionally, Lincoln delivered his legendary “Lost Speech” at the first Republican State Convention in 1856 at Major’s Hall, the site of the first classes at Illinois State after the university was founded a year later. late. The beautiful Illinois State Quad was designed by William Saunders, a leading landscape architect who is also credited with Oak Ridge Cemetery, where Lincoln rests, and Gettysburg National Cemetery, the site of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Emery collaborated with Carl Kasten, a graduate of ISU in 1966 and former chairman of the university’s board of trustees, who designed the project. Kasten should be present with Emery during the discussion.
The Macon County History Museum is located at 5580 N. Fork Road near Decatur Airport. For more information, call 217-422-4919 or email [email protected]