'Lincoln' comes to Mt. Pleasant
Editor’s note: Elizabeth Garrels, Mt. Pleasant, is chairman of the Friends of the Harlan-Lincoln House, which is located on West Broad Street, next to the Chadwick Library on the campus of Iowa Wesleyan College.
By Elizabeth E. Garrels
Thank you to Scott and Amy Lowe for bringing Lincoln to Main Street Cinemas. With this movie, they also provided much publicity for our local treasure, the Harlan-Lincoln House. The close connections between the Lincoln family and Mt. Pleasant’s Harlan family are numerous and fascinating. Interesting ones brought to mind from the movie are:
a.) Robert Todd Lincoln, the elder son home from Harvard and who eventually enters the war as an aide to Grant, courted for several years and later in 1868 married our hometown girl, Mary Eunice Harlan, daughter of Senator James and Ann Eliza Harlan.
b.) In the scene at the War Department where a seated Lincoln is dictating and discussing a telegram with the army operator, remember his strong, clenched hands (one on each knee) depicting commitment and strength? A plaster cast mold of Lincoln’s hands, also in this position of resolve, is only one of many displays and artifacts available to view at the Harlan-Lincoln House.
c.) Near the end of the war when Lincoln consulted with Grant in the field and toured the
Richmond battlefield, among the group that accompanied him on the River Queen was Senator and Mrs. Harlan and daughter Mary.
d.) In the conclusion of the movie, if we were able to discern actual faces at the outside Second Inaugural address, we would have seen Senator Harlan escorting Mrs. Lincoln and Robert Todd Lincoln escorting Mary Harlan.
Subsequently, Robert and Mary Harlan Lincoln and their children often visited her parents in Mt. Pleasant and made many local friends, entertained, owned property, and joined with the cultural and civic life of our city. Their youngest daughter, Jessie, married another local boy, Warren Beckwith Jr., who had been raised in that family home still standing at 601 W. Monroe St.
While the film industry is celebrating Lincoln with 12 nominations for the Academy Awards, we likewise celebrate the rich heritage and tradition we have locally with the Lincoln and Harlan families. Their house museum and collection on the campus of Iowa Wesleyan College, like our current local theatre, are valuable assets to our hometown.
Elizabeth E. Garrels,
Chairman, Friends of the Harlan-Lincoln House