479. George B. Balch (statement for Jesse W. Weik).
4 10 '85
In the early settleing of Illinois it frequently happened that farmers turned their young stock on the range in early Spring and never saw them again until "Chill Novembers surly blast" warned them that winter was approaching. As young horses were seldom branded, it sometimes happened that two men, both being perfectly honest, would claim the same animal; in all such cases the dispute would end in a lawsuit.
In the Spring of 1837 John Rodgers, who resided in the south part of Coles Co. and near where Abraham Lincoln's father resided turned his yearling and two year old colts out on the boundless pasture. Late in the fall of the same year they were found about fifteen miles away and brought home. One yearling mare colt in the lot was claimed by another man who brought suit for the recovery of his property. The suit was before a justice of the peace, and Abraham Lincoln was employed by Mr. Rodgers to defend his case.
After a full hearing the justice decided that the colt belonged to Mr Rodgers. The plaintiff appealed the case to the circuit court of Coles County.
Mr Lincoln again appeared for Mr Rodgers and showed by preponderance of evidence and the most convinceing argument that the animal rightfully belonged to his client. The court so decided and Mr R took possession of the property.
The years rolled by: the colt grew to be a splendid animal, and soon became the favorite family nag. Still the years swept by. Lincoln had been in Congress, the war with Mexico had been fought, Lincoln and Douglas had stirred the political caldron of Illinois to the bottom, the wild expanse of prairie had been changed to fruitful fields. Illinois was rapidly wheeling into line as the fourth State in the union, and Lincoln had been elected President of the United States, but the mare still lived and was known throughout the surrounding country as "Old Trim."
Early in February 1861 Lincoln came into the same neighborhood to visit his aged Step Mother and take a last look at the grave of his humble Sire. These sad duties discharged he stoped in the viliage of Farmington near by to get dinner. A knowledge of his presence spread like wild fire, the school was dismissed and teachers, scholars and villiagers hastened to the house where he had stoped to see the nations chief.
Among those who heard of his presence was his old friend and client John Rodgers who lived, about one mile away. He at once saddled "Old Trim" and galloped to the villiage. Lincoln met and greeted him in the most cordial manner. After the first salutations Mr Rodgers addressed him as follows:
"Well Abe, I still own the mare you gained for me in the lawsuit a long time ago; I rode her to the election to vote for you and have rode her here, Do you remember that lawsuit."
Lincoln promptly replyed "O yes John, I remember it well, it took place in 1837"!!
Twenty three years had passed by and yet without any apparant effort to grasp it he gave the exact date.
Geo B. Balch
Friend Weik my hand is sore therefor my writing is very poor — no one but an expert can read it. If references are needed on my part I refer you to Hon. J S Canon of Danville. Gov Oglesby, or any prominent man in Coles Co.
Geo B. Balch
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 4576 — 80