A Little Time and a Keyboard: History Unfolds While Touring Lincoln-Tallman House and Rock County Historical Society

Monday, October 4, 2021

History Unfolds While Touring Lincoln-Tallman House and Rock County Historical Society

 

History Unfolds While Touring Lincoln Tallman House and Rock County Historical So


Learning About the History of Janesville and Reveling Inside the Lincoln-Tallman House

**Disclosure: Thank you to Janesville  Area Convention &Visitors Bureau for hosting and accommodating my visit so I can bring this series to my audience. Opinions are 100% my own.

Magnificent and regal, the Lincoln-Tallman House beckons visitors to wander its elegant chambers learning about the family that once inhabited them. However, the campus comprises so much more to explore including the beautiful grounds and exhibits introducing Janesville history assembled by the Rock County Historical Society. The campus unfolds the possibility of so many adventures with history!



Lincoln Tallman House impressively greets visitors!
Lincoln-Tallman House impressively greets visitors!

Embarking on a Journey Through Janesville History

We embarked on our adventure at the Rock County Historical Society by first exploring the exhibits within the society's museum. Immediately, the depth and number of exhibits impressed us. We started on the lower level of the building which housed a large exhibit presenting Janesville historical artifacts and memorabilia.

Who doesn't want to check out a 1923 Phaeton?
Who doesn't want to check out a 1923 Phaeton?

This particular exhibit really fused together during the pandemic and the time in which the museum remained closed. During the quieter time, the museum staff enjoyed the ability to go through collections uncovering artifacts that have not been seen in some time or perhaps even the museum did not realize they had. Additionally, the period afforded time to learn more about artifacts and the people they are tied to. Community members also brought in interesting artifacts to be included.

Janesville artifacts present local history.
Janesville artifacts present local history.

Paintings by Gretchen Frick McBlair

Rock County Historical Society recently uncovered the artwork of local painter Gretchen Frick McBlair. Artifacts that inspired McBlair's artwork accompanied the paintings on display. Her paintings portray such a simplistic yet bold beauty. Such wonders to take time to admire!

Paintings by local artist Gretchen Frick McBlair uplift.
Paintings by local artist Gretchen Frick McBlair uplift.

Dazzled by Pickard China

Renowned for its collection of Pickard China, visitors make special trips to the museum just to view the exquisite pieces. Pickard China was originally hand-painted in nearby Edgerton, Wisconsin. The china is now manufactured in Antioch, Illinois. The elegant china has been chosen by a variety of, notable entities including the US State Department, various heads of state, Hilton Hotels,  Marriott and more. Pickard created Obama's state china service. The pieces are dazzling and create wonder!


Dazzling handpainted Pickard China on display at Rock County Historical Society.
Dazzling handpainted Pickard China on display at Rock County Historical Society.

Parker Pens on Display

Interesting collection of Parker Pens.
Interesting collection of Parker Pens.

The museum also is renowned for its collection of Parker Pens once manufactured in Janesville. The collection includes some pretty interesting models -- I had no idea there were so many types of these luxury pens!

Touring the Lincoln-Tallman House

The 1857 Lincoln Tallman House constructed of beautiful Cream City brick  stands regally in Janesville.
The 1857 Lincoln-Tallman House constructed of beautiful Cream City brick
 stands regally in Janesville.

After appreciating museum exhibits, we wandered over to the Lincoln-Tallman House. Admiring the lovely Cream City brick mansion rising before us, we noted the regal cupola, ornate columns, stately arched windows, and additional intricate adornments indicating to us that touring the house would be a special experience. From the moment we walked in until the moment we walked out, we basked in the treasures inside. The majority of the artifacts within the home are original to the family making the visit such a fantastic touchstone. 

The Lincoln Tallman House's designs are ornate yet not overwhelming truly awing visitors as they tour from room to room.
The Lincoln-Tallman House's designs are ornate yet not overwhelming
truly awing visitors as they tour from room to room.

William Morrison Tallman was a land speculator, lawyer and abolitionist. He constructed his Janesville home in 1857. William Tallman and his wife Emeline had lived in New York before speculating on land in Rock County. The mansion they constructed exemplifies Italianate architecture. The stories and artifacts in the home are remarkable.

The bed Lincoln slept in inside of the Tallman House.
The bed Lincoln slept in inside of the Tallman House.

Abraham Lincoln visited and stayed at the home in 1859 while campaigning for president. Tallman met Lincoln while he was speaking in Beloit. He invited him to speak in Janesville as well. While visiting Janesville, Lincoln would become friends with the Tallman family and stayed at the home. Legend has it that he was to stay only one night but ended up staying two. You see, he could not find his boots in the morning and missed his train. He was unaware of how boots were cleaned at the Tallman house and did not know where to find them! 

One of the faucets for running water within the Lincoln Tallman House.
One of the faucets for running water within the Lincoln-Tallman House.

The Lincoln-Tallman House includes so many wonders. The Tallmans actually had running water which was pretty forward-thinking for the time! 

The Tallman kitchen ready for food prep.
The Tallman kitchen ready for food prep.

 

We also learned about the staff that worked for the Tallmans including two live-in servants. We appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the staff and how they worked within the mansion. Additionally, we learned that a family member of a live-in servant has returned to the mansion to witness this piece of family history. Pretty interesting and nice that the museum can provide that tie.

Magnificent Lincoln sculpture surrounded by stereoscopes.
Magnificent Lincoln sculpture surrounded by stereoscopes.

Make Your Own History 

A chief mission of the Rock County Historical Society in addition to teaching the public about history is to encourage the community to make history. With the range of programs offered, the campus invites us to be part of evolving history! The stable has been furnished into a lovely event space. Community events weave all of us into the space's history. This summer, Rocky County Historical Society featured lovely events including live music, local art displays and food trucks. All of us can be part of the new stories created on the campus!

The charming brick stable is a focal point of new history being made.
The charming brick stable is a focal point of new history being made.

The campus also continues to grow with the inclusion of new artifacts and structures. The Frances Willard School House finds its home at the Rock County Historical Society bringing with it tales of the suffragist. A new addition includes a lovely stone house which will e a kitchen to help with the range of events hosted at the location.

So many stories create the ever-growing fabric of the Rock County Historical Society! I am so glad that we were able to be part of it and experience treasures throughout the campus. I look forward to returning and making new discoveries!


History Unfolds While Touring Lincoln-Tallman House and Rock County Historical Society

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