Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Westside

February 8, 2013

State Museum's Lincoln exhibit opens Feb. 9

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

- A cabinet designed and crafted (c. 1818) by Lincoln's father Thomas. Not knowing its history, a Newburgh, Ind., man bought the cabinet - then painted green - at a sale. He used it to store nuts, bolts, and other items in his garage. In 2009, his son read an Evansville newspaper article featuring Steve Haaf, a South Spencer High School teacher, who restores and makes replicas of Thomas Lincoln's furniture. While Thomas Lincoln is often portrayed as a ne'er-do-well, this cabinet demonstrates he was a true craftsman who used intricate designs and overlays in his work. This detail is especially impressive considering the rudimentary tools with which he had to work.

- Mary Todd's Meissen porcelain figurine (c. 1835). Mary Todd Lincoln was a prolific collector of the figurines, which were made in Meissen, Germany. Moviegoers may have noticed these on the big screen. To a historian, the collection demonstrates Mary Todd's elite upbringing. The exhibition also features a tea set crafted by a London potter who also worked for Queen Victoria. Mary Lincoln used the tea set to serve coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to guests at the Lincolns' Springfield, Ill., home.

- Toys the Lincoln boys played with at the White House, including a toy cannon Secretary of War Stanton acquired for the youngest son, Tad. Knowing the boy was rambunctious (the two youngest sons were known to race their pet goats in the White House), Stanton disabled the fully-functional firing mechanism.

- The insanity verdict following Mary Lincoln's trial in 1875. Sally Field's portrayal of the former First Lady in the movie showed glimpses of her instability. For 10 years, Mary Lincoln struggled to cope with the death of her children and her husband. Her oldest son, Robert, had her arrested and charged with insanity. She was convicted and remanded to Bellevue Place sanitarium near Chicago. Historians for years have been at odds over Robert's motives for having his mother committed.

- Photographs of the last documented Lincoln descendants, siblings Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith and Mary "Peggy" Lincoln Beckwith, who were great-grandchildren of Abraham and Mary Lincoln. They were raised at Hildene, the family estate in Vermont.

For more information on the museum or the exhibit, call 232-1637 or visit the website at IndianaMuseum.org.

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