Almost every courthouse in Illinois has one or more statues outside. Certainly, the most common are memorials to service men and women, and many of those are dedicated to Civil War Union soldiers. This monument notes that 1,200 men from Bond County (in south central Illinois) fought for the Union and participated in battles including Vicksburg, Shiloh, Chickamauga and Belmont. You can also see in the distance flag poles which are surrounded by memorials to those who served (and continue to serve) in other conflicts.
A great many of the courthouses are graced by Illinois’ greatest lawyer. You can find statues of Abraham Lincoln in parks, historic sites and museums throughout the state. Several have him paired with Stephen Douglas in locations where they debated. My favorites, though, are those outside the courtrooms where he rode circuit. The image below is outside the Christian County Courthouse. When he rode circuit, the Christian County courthouse was a wooden building and pigs would sometimes get below the raised floor. When the squealing was disturbing his closing arguments, Lincoln asked the judge to issue a “writ of quietus” to the pigs. This statue by John McClarey commemorates the event. McClarey’s statues of Lincoln in engaging scenes can be found throughout the state, but this is McClarey’s only statue of a pig. The statue is called The Last Stop because Taylorville was the last stop as the lawyers and judges rode through the courts of the 8th Circuit before returning to Springfield.
As an aside, I highly recommend Dan Abrams’s new book Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case that Propelled him to the Presidency. The trial in Springfield was indeed his last before the election, and unusual for the time, had a complete transcript. Robert Hitt, who had been assigned by Chicago papers to transcribe the Lincoln-Douglas debates a year before, was sent to transcribe this trial. Hitt, who later became a member of Congress, is a fascinating character in his own right.
The borders of southern Illinois are guarded by some interesting statues. The town of Chester on the Mississippi River was the home of Elzie Crisler Segar, the create of Popeye. Statues of Popeye and other characters from the comic strip are found throughout town. Outside the Randolph County Courthouse is one of Popeye’s girlfriend Olive Oyl, along with Swee’Pea, who would get into the spinach at times, and the bizarre creature Eugene the Jeep.
But dwarfing even Lincoln and Popeye is a statue of a true superhero. While Smallville, Kansas might have been the hometown of Clark Kent, the Illinois Legislature has officially declared that alongside the Ohio River, and a gambling boat, the City of Metropolis, is the true home of the Man of Steel. So where better to place a memorial to truth, justice and the American Way, than outside the courthouse.