The Story of Lincoln and Watermelons
On August 27, 1853, at 10:00 a.m. a sale of lots for a new town took place near what is now the
corner of Broadway and Sangamon streets. It brought many buyers from Springfield, among them was
Abraham Lincoln. Ninety lots were sold the first day. Sale prices varied from $40 to $150. The
total proceeds were approximately $6,000 on land that cost about $8.00 an acre. The highest priced
lots faced Chicago Street and the tracks.
Attending the lot sale besides Abraham Lincoln were a thirteen year old boy named John S. Stevens;
Virgil Hickox, Thad Davis a tavern keeper; George and James Glen, Merchants; Dr. Patterson from
Middletown; and Henry Snyder from nearby Rocky Ford. He had a wagon loaded with watermelon. Latham
and Gillett also attended along with numerous citizens from Postville.
Abraham Lincoln was requested by a promoter of the enterprise to christen the town site. The
Christening Ceremony was short. Lincoln lifted the cover from the pile of melons Mr. Snyder had
removed from his wagon and placed upon the ground near a stack of lumber in the area which was
destined to become the "Christening Site". He selected a melon which he considered appropriate
for the ceremony.
Later the Stevens boy recalled it. "We were all seated on the several lumber piles. For Myself, I
had selected the end of a projecting board which would spring nicely with my weight and near where
Mr. Lincoln stood. He opened the melon with his pocket knife which just reached well through the
rind, running all around, bumped the melon on the lumber, it opened nicely with all the core on one
side. He cut this core, squeezed the water into a tin cup saying, 'Gentlemen, I am requested by the
proprietors of the town site to christen it. I have selected the juice of a melon for that purpose,
pouring it on the ground. Therefore, in your presence and hearing, I now christen this town site.
Its name is Lincoln and soon to be named the permanent capital of Logan County. I have also prepared
a feast for the occasion. Pulling the wagon cover from the of melons, he took one half of the melon
he had opened for christening, laid it on the board before me saying, The youngest American on the
ground shall feast with me on the christening melon. Picking up the other half he pointed to the pile
and said, "Gentlemen, help yourself."
Written by Bobbi Abbott