Garret Moffett doesn’t claim that
actual ghosts will greet visitors along his new downtown
walking tour, “Lincoln’s Ghost Walk: Legends and Lore.”
But you never know. After all, Moffett says, a
supernatural thread ran throughout Abraham Lincoln’s
days in Springfield and the White House.
“I started looking and found there was quite a lot
out there about his visions, seances in the White House
and Mary Todd’s plunge into insanity,” said Moffett, 39,
a historical tour guide from Macomb. “There’s a lot of
stuff that’s just strange about Lincoln lore.”
The 90-minute tours - held twice each night Thursdays
through Saturdays - begin at the Lincoln-Herndon Law
Offices, 209 N. Sixth St., and stop at the First
Presbyterian Church, the Lincoln Home and the Lincoln
Depot before returning to the Old State Capitol Plaza.
None of those sites are home to any real Lincoln
ghost tales, Moffett said. The most famous possible
Lincoln hauntings have occurred at the Lincoln Tomb at
Oak Ridge Cemetery and the White House in Washington,
But the downtown stops put the Lincoln legends in
context, Moffett said, by touching on the former
president’s religious beliefs and his alleged prophetic
“In some speeches, he suggests that he may have been
aware of his own gift,” Moffett said.
In his farewell address to Springfield at the depot
on Feb. 11, 1861, for example, Lincoln said he was
leaving for Washington “not knowing when, or whether
ever, I may return. …”
Lincoln was assassinated four years later, and some
historians, Moffett said, believe that line was a
reference to a dream about his death from a few nights
before his departure.
Naturally, such stories invite skepticism. But
Moffett doesn’t mind those who aren’t convinced.
“We don’t try to push any beliefs on anybody,” he
said. “But when people leave, they’ll say they’ve really
learned a lot of history.”
Moffett has operated Haunted History tours in Macomb
for about four years. With the opening of the Abraham
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum this spring, he
wanted to capitalize on the increased tourism in the
He approached the Springfield Convention and Visitors
Bureau with the ghost walk idea, then spent most of year
researching and developing a script. He said his
research was revised and approved by Lincoln experts at
the presidential museum and Lincoln Home National
Historic Site before the tours began a few weeks ago.
“This is not some hack that just got a bunch of
Lincoln stories off the Internet,” said Moffett, who
guides while wearing an 1860s-inspired costume.
Tours begin at 5:30 and 8 p.m. Thursday through
Saturday. The 8 p.m. tours are lantern-lit journeys.
Moffett is usually out by 3 p.m. to solicit
customers. So far, practically all of them have been
out-of-towners looking for something to do at night.
That’s precisely who the SCVB had in mind when it
agreed to Moffett’s proposal, said director Tim Farley.
“The goal is to keep people here more than one day,”
Farley said. “If we don’t, we really have failed. We
want people to see all the sites available in
Springfield, and that really will take more than one
day. The longer people stay, the bigger impact they’ll
have on our economy.”
If the ghost walks are popular, Moffett hopes to
return to Springfield next year.
He’s currently developing scripts based on the 1908
race riots, Lincoln’s day-to-day life in Springfield and
Lincoln’s famed storytelling ability.
“There’s a need for this in Springfield,” Moffett
said. “And I want to get into it before someone else
figures out this idea.”
The ghost walk runs through Oct. 29. Fees are $10 for
adults, $5 for children ages 7 through 11 and free for
children under 6. There is no limit to tour sizes, and
private tours can be arranged for groups.
Daniel Pike can be reached at 788-1532 or