PETERSBURG - Nine-year-old Chris
Monte of Hillsboro, N.J., was one of thousands of people
Saturday evening who anxiously awaited the unveiling of
the "Lincoln the Surveyor" statue near the visitors
center at Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site.
Chris, who said he considers Lincoln one of his
"heroes," had asked his parents, Gail and Anthony Monte,
to bring him to Illinois to see the Lincoln sites. They
began planning the trip in early spring. He said that
when he found out he would be witnessing the unveiling,
as well as a candlelight tour of the village, he was
"It's amazing. I can't believe I'm actually here.
I've never been to something so special," Chris said as
he took pictures of the life-size bronze cast statue -
which depicts a 25-year-old Lincoln with his surveyor's
compass and staff - to show his classmates back home.
"He's always loved Lincoln," Gail said about the
Bob Church, executive director of the Illinois
Professional Land Surveyors Association and chairman of
the statue project, said the event was the culmination
of a dream that began for him in the 1970s.
Church said he'd always been interested in Lincoln's
career as a deputy Sangamon County land surveyor between
1833 and 1837. He tried to find a copy of Adin Baber's
book, "A. Lincoln with Compass and Chain," and in 1979
he was able to purchase two unsold cases of the book
from the publisher.
On Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12, 1980, Church asked
Dr. Wayne Temple and artist Lloyd Ostendorf to autograph
the books at the Long Nine Museum in Athens. Both had
helped Baber with the book.
The volumes quickly sold out, and Church eventually
got permission from Baber's daughter to have the book
In 2000, Ostendorf and Church discussed the
possibility of creating a statue of Lincoln as a
surveyor. Ostendorf agreed to come up with a drawing on
which to base the statue, but he died weeks later,
"I thought the project would end with the death of
Lloyd," Church said.
However, Ned Ostendorf, also an artist, said he'd
complete the drawing that his brother had begun, Church
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency then gave
its OK to erect the statue at New Salem, and
sculptor/artist John McClarey was commissioned to create
the statue, Church said.
In an effort to raise funds for the project, copies
of Baber's book, Ostendorf prints and replicas of the
statue were offered for sale. In addition, donations
from surveyor associations across the country, as well
as private individuals and companies, have helped raise
the nearly $130,000 needed to make the statue a reality.
As the sun set Saturday and the Porta High School
band played, Maynard Crossland, director of the Illinois
Historic Preservation Agency, unveiled the long-awaited
statue. He was joined by Church, McClarey and other
dignitaries at the event, which also commemorated the
75th anniversary of the Illinois Professional Land
David Hedrick, site manager of New Salem, said the
statue of "Lincoln the Surveyor" will forever be a
testament to the transformation of Lincoln from an
unskilled laborer to a surveyor, a lawyer, a statesman
and eventually president of the United States - a
transformation that, for a large part, took place in the
village of New Salem.
"It is my hope that as visitors pass this statue for
the next several centuries, they will not only gain an
appreciation for what Abraham Lincoln accomplished here
at New Salem, but will personally gain a sense of hope
for improving their own station in life."
Ann Gorman can be reached through the metro desk at