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The people of Pike County influenced Abraham Lincoln's early legal and political career. John Hay and John George Nicolay befriended Lincoln while visiting Pittsfield many times riding the circuit and then worked with him closely during his presidency. Lincoln gave legal counsel to friend William Grimshaw, a Pittsfield attorney whom he represented in a federal court case. Grimshaw and Lincoln also served together in local court cases. Pittsfield founder Colonel William Ross and his wife hosted Lincoln during his 1858 U.S. Senate campaign. Ross was also a local politician, representing Pike County in the State Senate. During the Civil War, President Lincoln called upon his old Griggsville friend, Ozias M. Hatch, to dispatch another secretary to assist Nicolay and Hay in their White House duties. Hatch sent a bright, young, Illinois College graduate from Griggsville, Charles Philbrick.

The Shastid House

John Greene Shastid's grandson, Dr. Thomas Hall Shastid, provides us with a unique look into Abraham Lincoln's relationship with the Shastids and other Pike County families in his book My Second Life. John Shastid and his family knew Lincoln from their days at New Salem. They often visited his store and conversed with him on everyday occasions, much like any other member of the community. In January 1836 John Shastid moved his family from New Salem to Pittsfield. There were then only six houses in the little county seat, one of which Shastid purchased for his family. In 1838, Shastid built, with his own hands, "a considerable larger white one, a house that still stands and in which a quite remarkable person, though then unknown, was nevertheless on several occasions an honored guest. Abraham Lincoln, that is to say, although he still resided...in Sangamon County, not infrequently, as a circuit rider, made trips to Pittsfield on legal or other business."

Lincoln was here

One of Pittsfield's fondest tales of Abraham Lincoln occurred in Shastid's house at the corner of North Illinois and East Jefferson streets. Thomas Shastid recalled the tale: "On one such occasion it happened that Grandfather Shastid had just come in from the country, where he had been hunting and had bagged a dozen quails (or wild pigeons). Wild meat was cheap meat as well as good meat then. It also happened, on that day, to be the only meat this family had. Grandfather's numerous progeny stood about, hungry, wide-eyed, waiting for the pigeons to finish broiling. All at once, as the custom was, somebody pushed the door open without knocking. And behold! There stood Abraham Lincoln. Abe sat down at their hearty invitation in the place of honor at the head of the table and soon the platter of pigeons was placed before him. At first Abe talked vivaciously. Then as he became absent-minded over his impending law-suit, he fell completely silent and ate voraciously. One by one the pigeons disappeared into the vast Lincolnian reservoir. A gesture from grandmother kept all the rest from calling for pigeon. After a short time Abe, still abstracted, reached out his fork for the very last pigeon, took it to his own plate, and began to eat it. Then my father, who at this time was still very young, burst suddenly into tears and cried out, "Abe Lincoln, you're an old hog!"

A local landmark

The Pike County Historical Society now owns the Historic Shastid House, and gives tours of this famous local landmark. Contact the Musuem for more details.

The Shastid House.