Lincoln's Starting Point - Petersburg, IL

Brief Description:
Historical marker of the starting point Lincoln used to survey and map the town of Petersburg, Illinois in 1836.
This marker is located on the southwest corner of the town square in Petersburg, Illinois.
Latitude / Longitude
N 40° 00.608
W 089° 50.966
EcoCache ID:
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Submitting Group:
Nancy & Ed Gorny, GIS2GPS Team
Website: and
Date Submitted
Historical marker of the starting point Abraham Lincoln used to survey the town of Petersburg.
Long Description
Lincoln, the Surveyor

More than a century ago—in February, 1836, a young man known for his honesty, his great height, and his cleverness at story-telling, spent several days surveying a tiny village in Central Illinois. Finishing his work, he drew a careful plat, labeled it the resurvey of Petersburg, February 17, 1836, and signed his name: “A. Lincoln.”

For three years jobs of that sort had been Lincoln’s chief means of support. In 1833, after his venture in store-keeping had ended in disaster and debt, John Calhoun, the surveyor of Sangamon County, had come to his rescue by appointing him his deputy and assigning him the northern part of the county (now Menard County) as his field. Calhoun’s successor retained him in office, with the result that until his removal from New Salem to Springfield, Lincoln with rod and chain was a familiar figure to hundreds of Illinois settlers.

Lincoln’s resurvey of Petersburg gave rise to an incident which local tradition still cherishes, and which the artist has pictured here. Living in the little town was Jemimah Elmore, the widow of an old friend who had served in Lincoln’s company in the Black Hawk War. Part of her house, Lincoln found, would be in a street if the streets were run due north and south. Sooner or later it would have to be removed, and that would cost more money than she could afford. But if his compass were set one degree off north and south, the house could be saved. And so today, because of the Widow Elmore and Lincoln’s consideration for her, the streets of Petersburg deviate one degree from the cardinal points of the compass.


Additional Resources
Abraham Lincoln Resources
Petersburg, Illinois Resources

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