A Day in the Life of an Ancestor

Responding to a challenge to write about an ancestor on a particular day, Tom from our Genealogy Networking Group shared this amazing day during the life of his wife’s distant cousin.


Charles G. Robson
October. 27, 1858

Abraham Lincoln as portrayed by Dr. Thomas Willer

It began like any other day but concluded very differently.  Charles G. Robson opened the General Store and Saxon Illinois Post Office for business.  He surveyed the front of his store and likely wondered if it would be a profitable day.  Being Saxon postmaster supplemented his income with a small steady fee from the Post Office.  The Post Office had just established Saxon branch three years earlier.  He could not hear the leaves rustling due to the continuing overnight rain.  He hoped it would clear up, but wondered if the local farmers would bother traveling on the muddy road, especially in the middle of the week.

The previous night the Little Giant, Stephen Douglas, spoke in nearby Toulon, Illinois.  Douglas was running for reelection to the US Senate.  On October 26, 1858 he stood in the rain for nearly an hour in front of a packed audience enduring the foul weather.  His voice became hoarse, but he persevered – encouraged by the enthusiastic audience of farmers and townspeople.  Robson had not attended the Democratic Party political rally.

Charles’ day passed in a routine fashion.  The weather had not improved.  He leisurely closed the general store and post office window.  It was then that Robson’s life changed forever.  There was a loud knock on the front door.  He hurried to open up and wondered who could be traveling in the rain and rapidly darkening sky.  Charles saw a very tall, gaunt man with unkempt hair.  Charles recognized a man in need.  The clean shaven man explained that he had just concluded a speech in Toulon and was returning to the rail city of Kewanee, Illinois.  Due to the darkness and inclement weather, the stranger asked to borrow a lantern to light his return trip.  Without hesitation, Charles retrieved a single wick glass lantern from his store.  He lit it and gave it to the stranger who promised to have it returned to the store keeper-postmaster.

The store keeper watched the stranger mount his carriage, proud to help a person in need.  The stranger held the lit lantern and trudged six miles in the darkness to nearby Kewanee.  He stayed overnight with a stalwart Republican family.  In the morning he tipped his hat and entrusted the lantern to the Kewanee postmaster for its safe return.  The postmaster thanked Illinois senatorial candidate Abraham Lincoln, who boarded the train for Chicago.

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