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The ax Abraham Lincoln used a week before he was assassinated
Eric Charbonneau/Le Studio


And there is no end in sight. Cornelius recently found a 640-page book entitled A Treatise on Some of the Insects Injurious to Vegetation that was given to Lincoln in 1862 by Charles L. Flint, who had edited and updated the work to its third edition. Lincoln had, according to his former law partner William Herndon, at least a passing interest in botany.

“There is some possibility that Lincoln looked at it,” Cornelius says. “Is it more important to read about Shakespeare or insects injurious to plants while your generals are sitting in winter camp, refusing to move?”

Scholars may never know whether Lincoln found time to read about plants while the Civil War raged, but the hunt for treasures at the museum endures.

“It’s very exciting,” Cornelius says. “Almost every day, we find something. We’re constantly learning new things, 150 years after he died.”


Bruce Rushton lives in Springfield and spends more time than he should gazing at statues of Abraham Lincoln, of which there are plenty within easy walking distance.