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Saturday, October 14, 2006

When in Athens

long_nine_museum.jpg Early on this bright and crisp Saturday morning in October, I found myself on an errand to tiny Athens, Illinois. While there, I happened upon the Long Nine Museum. I didn't go inside because it's only open during the summer months.

The Long Nine was a delegation of nine gentlemen legislators from Sangamon County, including Abraham Lincoln and Ninian Edwards. They were all over six feet tall. Hence, the Long Nine nickname. Their collective claim to fame was getting the state capitol moved from Vandalia to Springfield in 1837. At the time, Athens was part of Sangamon County.

While looking for information on the Long Nine, I found a somewhat disturbing ink and wash drawing of Abe Lincoln looking over the shoulder of former Governor Jim Thompson as he signs the "140th (not the 141) anniversary proclamation commemorating Abraham Lincoln and the Long Nine Banquet at Athens," in 1977. As of this writing, there are 62 prints available at $2.00 each. I'm thinking I should pick up a couple of these in preparation for the Lincoln Bicentennial. Anybody want one? Aside from that, there are some very neat things to be bought at Lincoln Collectibles.

long_nine_museum_sign.jpg

The inscription on the sign reads:

In the upper story of this building, on August 3, 1837, Lincoln proposed a toast to the citizens of Athens and neighborhood at a banquet honoring the "Long Nine."

And for the record, the toast:

Sangamon county will ever be true to her best interests and never more so than in reciprocating the good feelings of the citizens of Athens and neighborhood. (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln.)

It's probably not a good idea to be critical of small towns around these parts, but Athens has not aged well. Its historic charm is overshadowed by, among other things, metal buildings, the occasional grain truck traffic jam, and roads that seem to run into people's yards in places (due to missing curbs). I hope they realize that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people will be coming there for the Bicentennial.

Unlike the Grecian city, Athens, Illinois is pronounced with a hard "A." The current population is about 1,700. It is surrounded by farmland.

Posted by Marie at October 14, 2006 11:25 PM

Comments

You mean "AY-thins"?

That would make it part of the same Illinois tradition as VIE-enna (home of Paul Powell), New BURR-lin, Mar-SAILZ, and CARE-oh. Among others.

Posted by: Dan at October 16, 2006 4:26 PM

Exactly!

Posted by: Marie at October 16, 2006 8:19 PM