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Historic records of Illinois minister, journalist recovered

February 7, 2017

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield has acquired historic documents related to Elijah P. Lovejoy after they were almost destroyed.

Lovejoy was a Presbyterian minister and journalist who was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in 1837 while defending his press, The Telegraph (http://bit.ly/2kejm3m ) reported.

Madison County circuit clerk Mark Von Nida found the court records of Lovejoy’s estate probate in 2015 after he happened to save an old book of records slated for destruction. He contacted the state archives inquiring where to send the documents.

“I wanted to have an opportunity for the (Madison County) Historical Society to see what they could do with it, then out of the blue about a month ago I was contacted by the director of acquisitions at the Lincoln Library and Museum,” Von Nida said.

Ian Hunt, chief of acquisitions at the Lincoln Library, took possession of the documents last month. He said a document like that is the greatest find a historian can make.

“You really don’t get better than that kind of stuff,” Hunt said. “It’s phenomenal.”

The documents are the probate records from Lovejoy’s estate.

“He died intestate, which means he did not have a will, so there was a probate case,” Von Nida said.

The actual case is the late 1840s, partly because it dealt with both the inheritance and guardianship of Lovejoy’s son.

Preservationists will clean up the documents and determine the best way to preserve them.

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Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.thetelegraph.com

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