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Looking For Lincoln has encouraged all historic sites in Coles County to join together to create a weekend of activities related to the county’s connections to Lincoln with Trial & Tribulations as one of the featured events. “Link-on to Lincoln”, a county-wide celebration of Lincoln in Coles County, has been set for April 29 and 30 and September 23 through 25. The dinner theater program will be held on Friday and Saturday evenings, while other events will draw tourists and residents earlier in the day. In Oakland, Independence Pioneer Village will feature a mid-1800s revival/camp meeting on Saturday afternoon and the Rutherford Home will also have special programming. Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site will host their Sheep to Clothing event in April and the Harvest Frolic in September. The Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum will be open in Charleston with a visit from Abe. And the Coles County Historical Society will also be offering special programming. Henry enthused, “This additional activity throughout the county will make it easier and more attractive for people to travel a distance to attend our program to be more engaged with our Lincoln story. And local people will have a plethora of choices to choose from including strong reasons to visit Oakland whether or not they purchase tickets to the dinner theater.”
With a new venue, it seemed an ideal time for our long-time actors to focus on behind the scenes planning and to recruit new performers. Marylee and Kim McGee and Roger Ashmore have done an outstanding job of researching and portraying Mary Corbin, Dr. Hiram Rutherford, and Gideon “Matt” Ashmore since the beginning. Because of their work it will be easy for new people to step into the roles. Director, Bill Thomas, says “We are particularly interested in two men between the ages of 30 and 60.” Anyone interested in bringing these characters to life should email Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Callie Baber, of Callie Baber Auctions in Paris, will be playing Mary Corbin. Callie has acted in several productions in the area including "A Question of Loyalty" about the Charleston Riot. Callie traces her ancestry back to the Hanks Family, as does Abraham Lincoln's mother.
The new venue is the Oakland Methodist Church and the Methodist Women’s Club will be the caterer. “We are very excited about this new partnership,” explains Renee Henry, program coordinator. The quaint white frame church retains a historical atmosphere similar to the Columbian Building. Henry notes the ties to the Methodist church are significant, too, because Anthony Bryant, the patriarch of the Bryant family, was a Methodist exhorter (a type of lay minister). While the Methodist congregation did not formalize until 1856 in Oakland, Dr. Hiram Rutherford reported that his first wife attended Methodist camp meetings and, in fact, died following one such event. The kitchen adjacent to the eating area will make it easier to serve the 1847 dinner and to clean up. In addition, the Methodist Women have an outstanding reputation for delicious meals.
Seven years ago an event arose to celebrate local history and to draw tourists to learn Oakland’s historical link to Lincoln. Lincoln’s Trial and Tribulations, the dinner/theater program founded by Landmarks, Inc. and Independence Pioneer Village, accomplished just that receiving compliments from Lincoln scholars, gaining recognition as one of four Signature Events for the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area and Looking For Lincoln, and drawing people from throughout the Midwest. With success and time also comes changes, and this year the program includes a new venue, caterer, actors, schedule and expanded associated programming.