One of Abraham Lincoln's most controversial cases is Ashmore for use of Brant et. al. v. Matson (Coles County Circuit Court, October 1847) where he defended Robert Matson, a slave owner who was trying to retrieve his runaway slaves.


The Charleston Riot, on March 28, 1864 occurred after Union soldiers and local Republicans clashed with Civil War opponents known as "Copperheads."

3. Coles County's first recorded lynching case occurred in February 1856, when an angry mob forcefully removed Adolphus F. Monroe from his jail cell and hanged him.
4. Charles H. Morton is the plaintiff or defendant in some 25 cases - most are for debt, at least one is regarding boarders (Morton rented out lean-tos to new settlers), and one is regarding a robberty of boots, a silk waistcoat, and textiles (probably from Morton's store).
5. Highland v. Crow involves a draft substitute during the Civil War. William Highland (plaintiff) sued Philip A. Crow (defendant) because he claimed that Crow was in unlawful possession of a promissory note written by John McCoy. Crow hired Highland in October 1864 to serve in the U.S. Army for one year in place of Jackson Harsh. Shortly after Crow paid Highland $550 to serve as a substitute, Highland loaned McCoy $450.

The Coles County Legal History Project: Sources & Bibliography

Crime and Punishment in Illinois is currently maintained by M.A. in History candidate at Eastern Illinois, Jason Waggoner with the assistance of Joshua Mason. It was originally constructed by Mirjam Mueller and Aaron Osborne with the assistance of Peter Noll and Hartmut Wahl. Advisors are Terry Barnhart and Newton Key.

This is part of the Coles County Legal History Project (CCLHP), which is an ongoing research project aimed at using legal documents to illuminate 19th-century society in Mid America (from the 1830s). Student and faculty researchers (primarily from the History Department of Eastern Illiniois University) have begun to analyze and categorize civil and criminal cases and to put the information into the CCLHP database, a freely accessible online database, which can be found at the Localités/Localities website. We hope that historians, undergraduates, graduates, highschool teachers and students as well as genealogists and other interested individuals can glean useful information from the database. CCLHP already provides excellent data for comparative legal history as well as the local impact of the railroads, the Civil War, and the increasing integration between local markets and larger markets such as Chicago. We hope to add information on race and background from the Census in the future. While the database does not yet contain information on all incidents listed below, it does provide a broad comparative background for what was going on in the country during the time of each incident.

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Last Updated September 15, 2003

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