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Caution leads to conflict regarding Lincoln Interment Books

Thomas Clatterbuck

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It all started so well. Two months ago, the city proudly unveiled the newly restored Lincoln Interment Books. These documents record President Lincoln being laid to rest in the Oak Ridge Cemetery. After having been badly handled in the past, the books were back in excellent condition. Although the books belong to Oak Ridge, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library agreed to store them. Not only is it fitting that a Lincoln document be in his library, they have far better capabilities of preserving the document than the City or Oak Ridge does. After the ceremony, the books were moved to the library for display and safe keeping.

There was just one last detail to iron out: the actual legal agreement. Oak Ridge wanted to make sure that they retained legal ownership of the books; a sentiment shared by the City Council. Standard deposit agreements with presidential libraries often have provisions that items change ownership after a certain period of time. The City, wanting to avoid that possibility, needed a special agreement to be drafted. Getting the wording exactly right has taken several weeks. Alderman Theilen explained that they wanted the language to be perfectly clear for future leaders. He stressed that none of the caution on the part of the council was due to mistrust with the library or its staff.

But in that timeframe, the leadership at the Museum became increasingly frustrated. They were doing the City a favor by holding the books, but felt that good will was not being properly reciprocated. They also felt the media coverage was unfairly casting them in a negative light. Mayor Langfelder was sympathetic to this view, given how long it took the city to approve the agreement. So while the agreement was still in committee, the library issued a letter saying they intended to rescind the sharing agreement while the City figured out what it wanted done with the books.

The timing of the letter was unfortunate because the City Council did approve the agreement at tonight’s meeting. However, since the letter had already been issued, the mayor will have to meet with the library’s director to sort out the final details. Hopefully, tonight’s vote will sooth the Library’s concerns and the books will be allowed to stay in the safest environment for them. Mayor Langfelder did say there is a plan B if the books are return, but would rather be optimistic that a more permanent agreement with the library can be reached. Langfelder will meet with the library’s director next week.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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LIVE | Chatham Village Board Meeting November 13th

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Follow along live with the Chatham Village Board. They will be discussing the village’s finances and pension liability. Next year’s tax levy will also be planned.

Additionally, the Glenwood High School Boys Cross County team was recognized for winning their state contest.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council committee of the whole November 13th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council committee of the whole.

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Announcements

Ward 2 ward meeting tonight

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The ward meeting for Ward 2 is tonight at 5:30 PM  at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (908 S. Martin Luther King Drive). Residents are encouraged to come out to meet with their Alderman, Herman Senor, and Mayor Jim Langfelder to discuss the issues they see in the ward and the city.

If you aren’t sure which ward you live in, please check the online map https://www.springfield.il.us/Citizens/WardMap.pdf.

Don’t live in Ward 2? Check out the dates for other upcoming ward meetings:

  • Ward 2 – Alderman Senor: Thursday, November 8 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Ward 1 – Alderman Redpath: Monday, November 12 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Ward 5 – Alderman Proctor and Ward 6 – Alderwoman DiCenso: Wednesday, November 14 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Ward 9 – Alderman Donelan and Ward 10 – Alderman Hanauer: Thursday, December 6 at 5:30 p.m.

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