announce his readiness to depart for the city of Washington
— a place from which it was unfortunately decreed he should never return.
In the first week of February he slipped quietly away from Springfield
and rode to Farmington
in Coles County
, where his aged step-mother was still living.
Here, in the little country village, he met also the surviving members of the Hanks and Johnston families.
He visited the grave of his father, old Thomas Lincoln
, which had been unmarked and neglected for almost a decade, and left directions that a suitable stone should be placed there to mark the spot.
Retracing his steps in the direction of Springfield
he stopped over-night in the town of Charleston
, where he made a brief address, recalling many of his boyhood exploits, in the public hall.
In the audience were many persons who had known him first as the stalwart young ox-driver when his father's family drove into Illinois
from southern Indiana
. One man had brought with him a horse which the President-elect
, in the earlier days of his law practice, had recovered for him in a replevin suit; another one was able to recite from personal recollection the thrilling details of the famous wrestling match between Lincoln
the flat-boatman in 1830 and Daniel Needham
; and all had some reminiscence of his early manhood to relate.
The separation from his step-mother was particularly touching.1