Rushville Republican

March 29, 2013

Visiting with Abraham Lincoln

Marianne Scott
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — So, who do you run into in the RESE parking lot the day before Spring Break? Abe Lincoln, of course!

“Abraham Lincoln is perhaps the most revered Chief Executive this nation has ever had. And his wife, Mary, is the most maligned First Lady we have had in this great county,” stated Fred Priebe (aka Abraham Lincoln).

A visit with the Lincolns will dispel some of the myths about this Presidential couple.

It’s one thing to pose for pictures or recite quotation in a historical impersonation, but it’s quite another to do what Fred and Bonnie Priebe do.  The Priebes, who have been in public education since 1969, do their best to “be” Abraham and Mary Lincoln in as much thought as likeness.

On this day we find that Mary Lincoln stayed home in Washington City to visit soldiers in the hospital. She and her companion Elizabeth Keckly often take them flowers and fruit.

Elizabeth Keckly is the favorite seamstress of Mrs. Lincoln. A former slave, she bought her freedom after 11 years and has opened a successful dress shop in Washington City.

The day is April 14, 1865. As Mr. Lincoln began speaking, it became very clear that famous lines were not being repeated or countless facts offered at random. Fred Priebe is Abraham Lincoln is every sense of the word.

He shared what life was like after moving to Indiana as a small boy. We quickly found out that he loved books, especially Aesop’s Fables, the Bible, and the Tales of Arabian Knights.

Oftentimes, he would walk four miles to a neighbor’s house to borrow a book.

With very little schooling, reading was his major form of education.

Abe, born in Kentucky, moved with his family to Pigeon Creek in southern Indiana. It was there that they farmed and understood the necessity of existence from a good garden crop. It is also there that his mother died. His father would later marry Sara Bush Johnson. They moved to Illinois where he would find himself preparing to become a lawyer.

“It was at a dance where I met the most beautiful woman in the world, Mary Todd. Oh, she was much shorter than I and stood just 5 feet 2 inches tall.  She was educated and came from a very wealthy family. Her family was not very happy about our courtship and wedding, but I guess they grew use to me eventually. We had four sons together; however, Eddie died at age 3 and later Willie left us too,” cited Mr. Lincoln.

“I believe my greatest accomplishment was the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. I hope this will make a great difference in the lives of people not only today, but in the years ahead. And now I must take my leave as I promised Mrs. Lincoln I wouldn’t be late so that I might take her to the theater tonight. You see we’re going to see Our American Cousin at Ford Theater. So I bid you farewell,” he concluded.

And with that, he was gone back to Washington City.

Although his visit was brief, we were afforded the opportunity to chat with one of the truly great Presidents. And yes, this is just one more reason why Rush County Schools are a great place to be.