Walking Tour Map

Upon arrival at the building a walking map can be obtained.

Site 1 - Dr. William A. Mudd house (ca. 1860)

Dr. William A. Mudd (1847-1932) was born and grew up near Lebanon, Kentucky and acquired a medical education from the University of Louisville, graduating in 1870. He came to Athens in 1883, practicing medicine as a country doctor here for 45 years. He was twice elected mayor of the town. Upon retirement in 1927, he moved to Detroit, Michigan to join his children there.

Dr. Mudd's father, Dr. Henry Luke Mudd (1809-1880) also grew up in the Lebanon, Kentucky area, near where Abraham Lincoln spent his childhood. Henry Mudd and Lincoln were near cousins Henry Luke Mudd's aunt (Mary Mudd) having married Abraham Lincoln's uncle (Mordecai Lincoln).

Upon becoming President, Lincoln during the period of the Civil War reportedly offered Henry Luke Mudd any job that he wished. His reply was that he only wished to remain in Kentucky and have his property protected a request that was granted.

Dr. William Mudd of Athens was a distant cousin of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, who lived near Bryantown, Maryland, in the 1860s. Dr. Samuel Mudd was the physician who attended Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, prior to Booth's capture in northern Virginia.

Site 2 - Salzenstein house (ca. 1870)

Louis Salzenstein (1811-1884) was born in Germany and came to the U.S. in about 1831, and lived for a time in Baltimore, Maryland. He migrated to Illinois in about 1843, and settled in Athens. His wife, Minnie, was the first German-speaking woman in the Sangamon region.

Louis Salzenstein purchased the Rogers Building next door and was engaged as a merchant in Athens for over forty years. Old Salty, as he was known, was a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln often stopped at the store.

Big Charlie Salzenstein, Louis' nephew, recalled one incident in which Lincoln came by the store and borrowed an ax with which to chop down a raccoon tree. Lincoln was said to have later informed Louis Salzenstein that the ax had been lost, but Salzenstein refused any repayment.

In 1865, Louis Salzenstein constructed the two-story brick building behind the Rogers Building. The first floor was used as a warehouse, and the second floor as a public room for parties and performances by traveling troupes.

Site 3 - Colonel Matthew Rogers Building (ca. 1831-32)

Colonel Rogers (1770-1848) was born in Connecticut and lived in New York much of his early life, serving in a state militia brigade in the War of 1812. In 1818, he and his family came to southern Illinois and the following year moved to the Sangamon region, establishing his home a mile north of here.

In 1831-32, Colonel Rogers arranged for the construction of this building, which was framed with the post and beam construction approach, using mortise and tenon joints, held together with wood pins.

The building's first floor served as a dry goods store and the location of Athens' first post office. Abraham Lincoln often visited the store, according to Colonel Rogers' son, Henry Rogers.

The second floor was used as a public room, for all of the early civic functions of the town. On August 3, 1837, Lincoln and his fellow Long Nine state legislators from Sangamon County attended a banquet here, given by Athens townspeople, for the legislators role in helping secure approval to relocate the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield.

In a foreclosure action, Lincoln assisted Colonel Rogers in a suit to re-acquire the building in 1841. The building was finally sold to Louis Salzenstein in 1843, and remained in the Salzenstein family's possession until about 1914.

Today, the Colonel Rogers Building houses the Abraham Lincoln Long Nine Museum. In 2005, the building was approved for listing in the U.S. Department of Interior's National Register of Historic Places.

Site 4 - Jonathan Dunn saw and grist-mill (ca. 1831)

This site was the location of Athens' first steam-powered saw and grist mill. The mill was constructed by Athens resident, Jonathan Dunn, in about 1831. The mill was capable of making 20-25 barrels of flour per day, or sawing 1000-2000 feet of logs per day. The saw-mill was an early steam-powered circular saw, having two blades one above the other which made it possible to saw larger diameter logs. The saw-mill was also equipped with a winch mechanism, which could draw logs from 100 feet away up to the circular saw-mill to be sawn.

Dunn operated the mill for only a year or two, after which it was sold to the partnership of William Strawbridge and Jacob Croft. At that time a distillery, operated by escape steam from the mill's engine, was added.

Strawbridge later operated the mill by himself for a number of years. A stream through this area provided water for the steam engine's boiler.

Site 5 - Banks Hall's Tavern (ca. 1830)

This house incorporates Athens' early tavern (hotel). Banks Hall constructed the tavern by remodeling the frame house built by his father, Abner Hall.

The tavern was located on the stage route that connected Springfield, Athens, New Salem, and Beardstown. Abraham Lincoln occasionally stayed at the tavern.

Banks Hall was married to a daughter of Calvin Francis, and she had a large part in overseeing the tavern's activities. It was likely through this Francis family connection that Lincoln became acquainted with Simeon Francis, editor of the Sangamo Journal newspaper. Simeon Francis and his newspaper would become influential in Lincoln's later political activities.

Abner Hall, Banks Hall's father, along with another long-time resident, Harry Riggin, arranged for the early survey of Athens in 1831. The survey was performed by Reuben Harrison.

Site 6 - Overstreet-Hale flouring mill and saw-mill (ca. 1856)

At this site was located a two-story brick, steam-powered flouring mill and saw-mill. The mill was constructed by Athens residents, Alexander Hale and John R. Overstreet in 1856, and put into operation in 1857. It reportedly did a fine business for many years thereafter. The mill burned in 1897 and was never rebuilt. The church parsonage (now here) was eventually constructed on the site.

John R. Overstreet was a grandson of the Revolutionary War soldier, John Overstreet, and a nephew of Athens' founder, the Reverend John Overstreet.

The Reverend Overstreet was also in the milling business at an early date in the Athens area. In 1829, he helped install and operate an early mill, drawn by horses.

Water for the steam engine's boiler was obtained from a stream that passed through this site.

Site 7 - Alexander Hale house (ca. 1860)

This house was constructed by Athens resident Ezra Aylesworth in about 1860. The house was subsequently acquired by Alexander Hale, in 1874. When Hale lived here, it was expanded to 13 rooms. The house was built of brick, with 13-inch thick interior walls.

Alexander Hale, along with John R. Overstreet, built and operated a two-story, steam-powered flouring mill and saw-mill across the street. That mill was built in 1856 and operated for a number of years thereafter.

In 1920, the house here was acquired by one of the Hale's children, Lola Hale Kicher, and remodeled. The 5-room frame portion on the west was removed, leaving the original 8-room original brick structure that appears today.

Site 8 - Early Athens pottery works (1830s-1850s)

This site was the location of early Athens pottery-making, in the 1830s through the 1850s. Clays found here were used in making the pottery, which was occasionally used as barter when currency was scarce.

Known operators of pottery factories here included William Royal, John Shepherd, William and Barnett Ramsey, and J.W. Frackleton. Some of these pottery-makers were also previously involved in the Cotton Hill pottery factory in Springfield.

Descendents of Athens pottery makers migrated to Galena, Illinois and the Oregon Territory, where they also established early pottery industries.

Site 9 - Orimal Clark's double log cabin (1819)

In 1819, Orimal Clark constructed on this site a double log cabin, the first structure in what would become the town of Athens. One side of the cabin he used as a residence and the other side he used as a blacksmith shop.

In 1821, Clark sold the cabin and adjoining land to the Reverend John Overstreet, who soon converted the blacksmith shop into a store.

During the Civil War years, John R. Overstreet (Reverend Overstreet's nephew) owned a two-story hotel just north of here, on the northeast corner of Jackson and Main Streets. Besides owning the hotel, John R. Overstreet was also co-owner of the nearby Hale-Overstreet flour/saw mill.

Sources * Some Interesting Menard County Houses (1967), by Matilda Johnson Plews * Past and Present of Menard County (1905), by the Rev. R.D. Miller * History of Athens for the Period Prior to the Coming of the English-Speaking Pioneers (1936), by John C. Harris * Hall-Overstreet Family: 1725-1986, by Carrol Hall * Sangamo Journal and successor newspapers (various) * A Second Pottery-Making Community in the Sangamo Country, by Curtis Mann * Looking at Abraham Lincolns land The Historic Sangamon Region of Central Illinois * (2006), by John Eden and Jim Siberell