Sunday, February 22, 2009

Steal this picture.

Over the years I've swiped the artwork of so many people in illustrating my blog, it's high time I give back. I created this little graphic for a baby shower that never happened, so in an effort to make use of it and also to smother a bit of my copyright infringement guilt, I'm offering it to my fellow criminal cheapskates, wherever in cyberspace they may reside.

Take it!
Don't credit me!
I promise not to sue!

And they're giraffes, in case you couldn't tell. Giraffes without tails. Forgot the tails. Oopsie.

Oh well. Consider it my artistic widow's mite.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In which I see more dead people on my magic computer thingy.

Who out there loves the Interweb?? I'm a full-on addict, and it's only getting worse. Latest fix:

The Thatcher family has always understood that its patriarch, Hezekiah Thatcher, my great-great grandfather, knew Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in the 1830s and 1840s when all three were residents of Springfield, Illinois (Hezekiah had not yet joined the LDS Church and Lincoln was still a junior law partner, just beginning in his political career). I've long wondered if it were really true. Maybe (thought I) they didn't really KNOW each other, but when Lincoln became famous “I used to pass him on the street” suddenly became “we knew each other.” I wanted to know more about this claim, but Hezekiah never kept a journal, so I figured that digging up any details of his association (friendship? rivalry? mutual indifference?) with Lincoln would be an ordeal. Probably involving a trip to Illinois. So I never bothered to try.

Then all the yammer related to Lincoln started in the last few weeks (Happy 200th, Abe!) and brought the question back to my mind. I thought it couldn't hurt to consult my friend Google to see what he might have to offer on my question. “Hezekiah Thatcher” + “Lincoln” took me to a site that informed me Lincoln was one of the lawyers in an 1843 Springfield civil case involving Hezekiah. I then typed the name of the case into Google and up came a website that meticulously archived all of Lincoln's legal papers, complete with case abstracts and scanned images of the original files! And there was my grandfather's name, in Abe Lincoln's handwriting. It was almost as surreal as seeing your grandfather's name written in God's handwriting.*

The Hill v. Thatcher case ended in a settlement rather than a full trial, which is in keeping with a description I recently heard of Lincoln the lawyer – he would encourage settlement and discourage trials whenever possible. Already showing signs of moral greatness at that early date.

So the family story is at least minimally true. The quiet, shy Hezekiah really was personally acquainted with the awkward, melancholy Abe Lincoln at least on this one occasion. Then, little knowing Mr. Lincoln's destiny or his own, he joined up with the Mormons and headed west, adding a whole slew of Wild West credentials to his resume.** Lincoln headed east and.....saved the universe, more or less.***

And now I've got this lead on the Lincoln/Thatcher link, I think I'll dig some more. Maybe I will find, buried deep in the Sangamon County Archives, a Happy 30th birthday card to Abe Lincoln signed

From one hardy frontier fellow to another,
Hezekiah T.

For any family members who want to know more about what I found or see my transcription of the complaint written up by Lincoln, click here for more complete information.

* Of course, there would be no way of knowing it was God's handwriting unless you'd found the Ark of the Covenant and could use the stone tablets to do a thorough forensic comparison. Which would be an unforgivable use of the Word of God that would surely call down a lethal ZAP! from on high.
** Friend of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, pioneer in the first year of the Mormon exodus to the West, polygamist, fearless rescuer of stranded immigrants, forty-niner who made his fortune in California, father of a Pony Express rider, tireless traveller who walked across the USA three times, founding settler and generous financier of Cache County Utah, and on and on and on, gush, gush, gush.
*** Oh, for shame -- you were paying attention in school, weren't you?