Reminiscences of P. P. Grosboll

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Until about the year 1898 there stood on the old "McGrady Eutledge Farm", about four miles northwest of Petersburg an old log cabin that was of particular interest to Lincoln historians, as in it Lincoln plead his first law case, while he was yet a surveyor. Mr. Eutledge had several years before the above date sold the farm to Mr. P. P. Grosboll, who still owns it and to whom Mr. Eutledge many times told the story of "Lincoln's first case ' ', of which there has been but one attempt to record. About 1898 Mr. Grosboll wrecked the house and used many of the timbers from it in the construction of a corn-crib which is in use today. McGrady Eutledge was an associate of Lincoln during his residence at New Salem perhaps oftener than any other person, especially during the time Lincoln was a deputy surveyor under Calhoun, and it was he who brought Lincoln to the bedside of the dying Ann Eutledge, his cousin. At the time of this story the cabin was occupied by one who was a Justice of the Peace. Lincoln was Purveying in the neighborhood one day, young Eutledge carrying chain. They were to eat dinner at the house of the Justice, and upon arriving there they found that "court was about to open", the case being that of the betrayal of an orphan girl "bound" to a neighboring family, by a dashing young man, who was a nephew of the Justice. When the hour of the trial arrived, Lincoln noticed that the young man was represented by a "smart lawyer" from Beardstown, while the unfortunate girl had no one to plead her cause, not even a sympathetic friend to comfort and shield her from the hard stares of a curious and unsympathetic crowd. Lincoln's heart was touched and addressing the Court [90]

VoLxiv, No.i

Reminiscences of P. P. Grosboll


informed him that as yet he was not a " regular " lawyer, though he had been reading law, and in the absence of other counsel asked that he might be allowed to represent the girl. The Court readily assented and Lincoln held a short talk with her, after which the case proceodedin an orderly and perhaps rather discouraging manner for Lincoln's client, and in due time the pleading of the " lawyers" began. Until now, Mr. Rutledge said, it appeared the girl had little chance for winning. She was an orphan "bound" girl, not considered the "equal" of the dashing young man whose family was of some social prominence in the pioneer community, and besides, he was the nephew of the Justice. Of Lincoln's address to the Court we know but little, and Mr. Rutledge always gave this solemnly and slowly, as it had been impressed upon his mind so many years before. "The reputation of this young man", said Lincoln, "is like a white dress which has been soiled, but can be washed and made white again. But the reputation of this young girl is like a beautiful vase that has been crushed against a rock and is lost forever". And Mr. Rutledge added, as he stood hat in hand gazing over the old room, "In this room Abe tried and won his first case long before he began to practice law, taking, as he always did, the right side of the case". Perhaps but two now living know the names of the principals, which for obvious reasons they "forget", but Lincoln's part in the story is but another illustration of that generosity of spirit and sympathy of soul he always displayed, until today the world acknowledgeshim to be the "Greatest Humanitarian of all time, barring only one other man, he too of humble birth- Jesus of Nazareth".