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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Gourley, James. 'James Gourley (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon451.html


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343. James Gourley (William H. Herndon Interview).

[1865 — 66 [1]]

Jas Gurley

I Knew Lincoln as Early as 1834: he used to Come from New Salem afoot & get books at Stuarts & Dummers [2] office: he was Post Master or D.P.M at that time: he used to Come to Stuart & Dummers office and tell his Stories: he once helped box a fellow up in a hogshead and roll him down — Jack Armstrong was the leader — I run a foot race in 1836 with H. B. Truett — now of California — got Lincoln to be my judge — Truett had a running Suit — Indian Style — . Lincoln felt good as I beat Truett — a boaster. Lincoln loved to see the wind out of the windy fool. Col E D Baker and I used to run foot races. I Know when Lincoln Came to this City — in 1837 — probably in May 1836. We played the old fashioned town ball — jumped — ran — fought & danced. Lincoln played town ball — he hopped well — in 3 hops he would go 40.2 on a dead level. He was a great wrestler — wrestled in the black Hawk war: his mode — method — or way — his Specialty was Side holds: he threw down all men. Lincoln was a good player — could catch a ball: he would Strip and go at it — do it well —

I heard Lincoln make a Speech in Mechanicsburg Sangamon Co in 1836. Jno Neal had a fight at the time — the roughs got on him and Lincoln jumped in and Saw fair play — We Staid for dinner at Greens close to M — drunk whiskey sweetened with honey. there — the questions discussed were internal improvements — whig principles — : he peeled _________ [3]

I heard Mr Lincoln during the Same Canvass. Early was a candidate — Lincoln skinned Dick Quinton in the Court in July 1836, I think. It was at the Court house — where the State house now Stands — . The whigs & democrats had a general quarrel then & there. N. W. Edwards drew a pistol on Achilles Morris — During the Congressional race between Jno. T. Stuart & S A Douglas they had a fight in Herndons grocery — the brick layer: they fought in a grocery: [4] they both fought till Exhausted — grocery floor Slippery with Slop. Stuart ordered out a barrel of whiskey and wine — . I became acquainted with Douglas in 1836 when he first Came here as Register of the Land office — Douglas & I wrestled many and many a time — When Harrison White & Co run their race I was a Har—n man — Lincoln was a Clay man — Heard Douglas & Lincoln Speak on the questions of the day many times: heard Lincoln & Calhoun in their great Tariff debate in the Court house [5] — a rented room in Hoffman's row — N.W. Corner of public Square: This debate lasted 3 or 4 nights or more. Lincoln's arguments were profound — Calhoun was an able man — No mistake — one of the ablest men that ever made Stump Speeches in Ills — He came nearer of whipping Lincoln in debate than

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Douglas did — . These men — Douglas — Calhoun & Lincoln — have often heard from 1834 to 1840 —

Lincoln was a great temperance man during the time of the Washingtonians — he would go a foot 5 or ten miles to talk. One of his Speeches was printed in the Journal [6] He was a good temperance man — he Scarcely Ever drank. I got Lincoln to join the Sons of temperance about 1854. He joined & never appeared in it again. If Lincoln Ever drank it was as a medicine I think. He took no part in in the great temperance move in 18__ [7] when an act of the Legislature was passed and Submitted to the People.

In 1840 he Spoke frequently to Harrison Club: he advocated the Tarriff — Bank — Internal improvements by the Gen Government — & the distribution of the proceeds of the Sale of the public land and particularly & generally all whig measures. Lincoln was for Clay up to the time of Gen Taylors race in 1848. He was for Clay in the Harrison — Van Buren — White Webster & Co [8] — He and I once went to Petersburg he to make a Speech against Peter Cartwright in his Congression race — 1846 — . He skinned Peter & Erastus Wright — the abolition (Note this — remember the Wright law Suit [9])

One day Lincoln was gone to Chicago to attend to the Rock Island bridge Case. [10] While he was gone — say in 1857 — Mrs Lincoln & myself formed a conspiracy to take off the roff and raise the house. [11] Lincoln Came home — Saw his house — and Said — Stranger do you Know where Lincoln lives: he used to live here". He Scolded his wife for running him in debt. Again — when Lincoln was gone once I chose her — Mrs L — a Carriage — a fine one — Lincoln Complained, but all to no purpose. Again when Lincoln was away from home Mrs Lincoln had a bad girl living with her: the boys & men used to Come to her house in Ls absence and scare her: She was crying & wailing one night — Called me and said — "Mr Gourly — Come — do Come & Stay with me all night — you Can Sleep in the bed with Bob and I. I don't want boys: they'd go to Sleep to Soon & won't & can't watch — Come do — Sleep with Robt. & myself —

I lived next door neighbor to Lincoln 19 years: Knew him & his family relations well: he used to Come to our house with Slippers on — one Suspender & and an old pair of pants — Come for milk — our room was low & he Said Jim — you have to lift your loft a little higher: I Can't stand in it well". He used to say to my wife that little people had Some advantages: it did not take quite So much wood & wool to make their house & Clothes.

Lincoln never planted any any trees — : he did plant Some rose bushes once in front of his house: he planted no apple trees, cherry trees — pear trees, grapevines

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Shade trees and Such like things — he did not it seems Care for Such things

He once — for a year or So had a garden & worked in it: he Kept his own horse — fed & curried it — fed & milked his own Cow: he Sawed his own wood generally when at home. He loved his Horse well.

Lincoln & his wife got along tolerably well, unless Mrs L got the devil in her: Lincoln paid no attention — would pick up one of his Children & walked off — would laugh at her — pay no Earthly attention to her when in that wild furious Condition. I don't think that Mrs Lincon was as bad a woman as She is represented: She was a good friend of mine. She always Said that if her husband had Staid at home as he ought to, that She could love him better: She is no prostitute — a good woman, She dared me once or twice to Kiss her, as I thought — refused then — wouldn't now.

Lincoln would take his Children and would walk out on the Rail way out in the Country — would talk to them — Explain things Carefully — particularly. He was Kind — tender and affectionate to his children — very — very — . Lincoln I think had no dog — had Cats — Bob used to harness Cats — Bob & my boy and used to harness up my dog & they would take him & go into the woods and get nuts —

Mrs & Mr Lincoln were good neighbors. Lincoln was the best man I ever Knew: he gave my boy a position in the Navy. Lincoln was a great reader: he read the Bible.

As to Mr Lincoln I do not think he Ever had a Change of heart — belonged to no religious Sects — was religious in his way — not as others generally. Had he Ever had a Change of heart — religiously Speaking, he would have told me about it: he Couldn't have neglected: he Couldn't have avided it.

In 1844 I used to play ball with Abe Lincoln — E D Baker — &c others: the game was Called fives — Striking a ball with our hands against a wall that Served as ally. In 1860 Lincoln & myself played ball — this game —

Lincoln went home from the Journal Office directly after his nomination for Presdt: he was agitated — turned pale — trembled. We — a good many — Soon went up to See him at his house. Lincoln played ball the day before his nomination — probably he played Some in the morning — Early

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3880 — 87; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:124 — 30

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Gourley, James. 'James Gourley (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon451.html
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