Warner's Memories

Lincoln traveled the Eighth Judicial Circuit six months a year, becoming close friends with his fellow lawyers, with whom he shared, not only the courtroom, but also meals, an easy camaraderie, and often a room...

Lincoln, Judge David Davis, and Ward Hill Lamon, a Danville lawyer and a great bear of a man, were visiting one evening on the porch of the Barnett Tavern (a term used then for an inn, not a saloon) while young Vespasian "Pash" Warner listened.  Lamon suggested making  trip across the square to the grocery (then a term for a place that sold liquor, not food) to obtain some whiskey.  Davis objected, reminding Lamon that only the week before in Mr. Pulaski, Davis had found it necessary to postpone court since Lamon had been too indisposed (hungover) to argue a case the next day.  Lincoln pointed out that Davis often allowed a first offender in the courtroom a second chance and asked that he give Lamon the same consideration.  Davis relented.  Lamon returned with a pitcher of whiskey, and the three retired upstairs to Lamon's room to continue their discussions, leaving the boy behind.  Lincoln never drank but often enjoyed the company of others who did.  Lamon became one of Lincolns staunchest supporters and accompanied him as his bodyguard on his journey to Washington, D.C., when Lincoln was elected President.

Vespasian Warner, named after  Roman emperor, was a toddler when his father, Dr. John Warner, moved from Mt. Pleasant (now Farmer City) to Clinton in 1842.  To supplement his budding medical practice, Dr. Warner and his wife, with Harry P. Merriman, ran a hotel on the west side of the square.  There, the Eighth Judicial Circuit lawyers paid $1.50 for a week's food and lodging.  The doctor prospered, gave up the hotel, building the first brick residence in Clinton across the street from the Barnett Tavern, located a block south of the square.  Vespasian Warner said of this time when he was an adolescent, "Being young and curious, I would hang around the tavern in the evenings, as long as my parents would allow me to remain out of ed, to hear the judge and lawyers, great men in my eyes at the time and great later."

Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibits tell the stories of Lincoln’s life and times in Illinois.  Each wayside exhibit tells a unique Lincoln story and a local story.  Many of the waysides share little known stories about Lincoln and the individuals he interacted with.  There are over 260 Looking for Lincoln waysides in the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.    

Visitor Information

Address: 310 N. Quincy St. Clinton, Illinois 61727

Website: https://lincolnheritage.wixsite.com/dewittcounty

Phone Number: 217-935-3364