George Buss of Freeport portrays Abraham Lincoln. Picture by Pat Lynch from George Buss’s website, Sharing Lincoln’s Legacy.

Jonesboro plans to host bicentennial celebration

The City of Jonesboro is planning to host a bicentennial celebration in October. 

The Union County community was founded in 1818. Jonesboro is the county seat. The city also is the home of the Union County Courthouse.

Union County itself, as well as the State of Illinois, also are commemorating their 200th anniversaries during 2018.

Several special events are scheduled in conjunction with Jonesboro’s bicentennial celebration. 

Dine with Lincoln

An opportunity will be available to “dine with Abraham Lincoln” during the celebration.

A dinner to celebrate the 200th birthdays of Jonesboro, Union County and the State of Illinois is planned Saturday evening, Oct. 13, at the Main Street Center in Anna. The center is located at 400 S. Main St.

The dinner is being sponsored by the PAST organization of Union County and the Jonesboro Bicentennial Committee.

Doors for the event are scheduled to open at 6 p.m. A meal will be served at 6:30 p.m. The dinner will be catered by The Kitchen on Lafayette and will feature Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s “favorite dishes.”

Dinner reservations are $25. Reservations are required by Oct. 5.

For information on how to make a reservation, contact or 618-713-3560 or or 618-697-1941.

The local group Back Porch Company is scheduled to perform at the dinner.

“Sharing Lincoln’s Legacy”

Abraham Lincoln, as portrayed by George Buss of Freeport, is scheduled to be a special guest at the dinner.

Buss’s story is featured on his website, “Sharing Lincoln’s Legacy.” 

The website shares that: “From the time George Buss was in elementary school in the 1960s, he already had a keen interest in Abraham Lincoln. 

"He was familiar with the big stone house in Lena, known as The Inn, where Lincoln stayed when he visited there. 

"He remembers reading about the great Freeport debate. And he treasures the memory of sitting on Lincoln’s shoe while dining at the ‘Lincoln the Debater’ statue just outside Taylor Park school in Freeport.

“Tall, thin, and bearded, George was frequently told of his resemblance to Honest Abe as he reached adulthood and entered the teaching profession. 

“In 1986, he made his first Lincoln appearance, representing the Land of Lincoln at a National Educational Association Convention in New Orleans. 

“Sporting the famous stovepipe hat, he led the Illinois delegation onto the convention floor.

“From there, he collaborated with Richard Sokup, who portrayed Steven A. Douglas, and by 1993 the pair entered the national scene as Lincoln and Douglas interpreters. 

“They worked together until 2004, when Sokup passed away. George worked alone for a few years, and then formed a relationship with Tim Connors to perform, ‘A discussion with President Lincoln and Judge Douglas.’ They now appear together regularly throughout the nation.

“Today, George Buss has turned his historical knowledge, educational background, theatrical experience, and love of all-things Lincoln into a full-time passion. “He enjoys interacting with people from all walks of life – prominent Lincoln scholars, international celebrities, and regular people ‘like you and me.’ 

“At every venue he visits, George brings Lincoln to life with authenticity, reverence, and humor.”

Buss and Mr. Sokup participated in a 1994 reenactment of the famed Lincoln-Douglas debate in Jonesboro in 1994. The event aired live on C-SPAN.

Buss also plans to visit Jonesboro School on Monday, Oct. 15.

Other Bicentennial Activities

Other bicentennial activities are being planned in Jonesboro.

 Entertainment and activities are planned Friday and Saturday evenings, Oct. 12-13, by the Jonesboro Library Association on the Jonesboro Square.

On Saturday, the following activities are scheduled:

10 a.m., Jonesboro Cemetery. Dedication of Revolutionary War patriot graves by the Sons of the American Revolution.

10:30 a.m., Jonesboro Cemetery. A walking tour of the cemetery with Abraham Lincoln and friends is planned. Reenactors will be present to help guide the tour.

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. A tour of churches in and around Jonesboro is planned.

1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Jonesboro Library. The library, which is located in Jonesboro’s former train depot, will be open. The library will have an exhibit of artifacts from the old station.

1 p.m. to 4 p.m., PAST’s Heritage House is scheduled to open for tours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

A driving tour featuring important sites in the history of Jonesboro is planned throughout the day.

An archeological dig for students is planned during the school week  near a Trail of Tears site.

Jonesboro bicentennial merchandise and souvenirs will be available to buy during the weekend.

A pictorial book about Jonesboro is being published and will be available for sale. 




The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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