WILL-TV PBS Documentary

page 3

In 1847, Abraham Lincoln, a young lawyer at this time, would get involved in a case in which he would have liked to have been on the opposing side.  Mr. Lincoln was a traveling lawyer and the Charleston Court in Coles County was one of his venues.  Lincoln took on the position of helping a slave owner (Coles County property owner, Robert Matson) from Kentucky to get his "stolen" slaves back.  Mr. Usher Linder, Matson's legal friend from Charleston, asked Mr. Lincoln to help him in this slave case.  He agreed, and would apply his legal ethics of honesty and following the written law of Illinois.  This would end up backfiring for the case.  Abraham Lincoln actually proved that the slave owner, Robert Matson, was in the wrong by working his slaves in Illinois.  This case would be the only instance where the Great Emancipator would defend a slave owner, and was important in Illinois law and the press.  In this particular case, Abraham Lincoln defended a slave owner, but through complete fairness and understanding of Illinois slave law, would lose the case.
Joe (Abraham Lincoln) Woodard in an off-stage laughing moment when is was to be "all quiet".  Rod (Judge Davis) Warfield is trying to pop the cheeks of poor Joe, who has a mouth full of soda.

Jeff Clements is pressed into service.  Mary is applying a mustache and cosmetics.  Jeff plays the role of defense attorney for the black family which is trying to escape the clutches of Robert Matson, slave owner from Kentucky attempting to work a farm with slaves in southern Illinois.

Rebecca Drake fixing the bonnet of one of our local young adults.

Mt. Pulaskians should recognize this photo of our courtroom and how
 things have changed - benches have been moved and the 30-star flag
 has been removed from the west wall.


Left:  John "Woody" Woodruff from Petersburg, IL., portraying Robert Matson in the slave-owner case.  Right:  Local stand-in, Dan Phillips,
 is taking the part of the judge.  The courtroom has been altered to conform to that of the Coles County Courtroom.

Jeff Clements as defense attorney for Gideon Ashmore, an
abolitionist land owner in Charleston (Coles County).  Cameraman,
Julius, is setting up the scene.

Tim Hartin, WILL-TV PBS Production Supervisor, giving last-minute
 instructions to Jeff Clements, the defense attorney, and his defendant
 in the Robert Matson Case

Some of the audience in the Robert Matson Case - Jane DeWitt, Alison's mother from Springfield, Rebecca Drake and Jim Jackson.  Wally Kautz is relaxing for a moment in the back row next to an unidentified lady.

The Robert Matson Case - Lincoln and his plaintiff, Robert Matson - a slave owner; Jeff Clements as defense attorney for a Charleston property owner (Gideon Ashmore)attempting to get the negro family set free from the clutches of Matson.


a few more photos to follow


photos by phil bertoni