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Move statue of young Abe to Historic Center

Published: Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

With the closing of Lincoln School, the relocation of the Lincoln statue is to be considered. 

Ruth Walgreen Stephan commissioned Freeman L. Schoolcraft to design a statue of a young Abraham Lincoln as a gift for Lincoln School.

With no photographs for reference, the sculptor studied the works of Carl Sandburg to develop the concept of “Lincoln at Seven” – barefoot, buckskin clothes, ragged hair, lying on the floor reading a book. At the time, the bronze statue was thought to be the only known statue of Abraham Lincoln as a boy. 

On Oct. 10, 1947, students were assembled as Ms. Ruth Walgreen Stephan presented the statue to Principal Esther M. Barton as a gift for Lincoln School. I was a sixth-grade teacher at Lincoln School, and I remember that occasion well. 

Initially the statue was located on the second floor at the rounded end of the hall. Students going up to the fifth-, sixth-, or seventh-grade classrooms would frequently stop to rub the smooth bronze head of Mr. Lincoln. 

Inspired by the gift, the annual show, composed and directed by the teachers, was “Howdy, Mr. Lincoln.” A barbecue meal prepared by parents preceded the program for a festive evening. 

This treasured historic gift belongs in Dixon. I suggest placing the statue in the Walgreen room at the Northwest Territory Historic Center, where many visitors may see and appreciate “Lincoln at Seven.”

Thank you for your consideration.

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