Illinois History Minutes

December 26 Illinois History Minute


It’s December 26th. And in 1830, it was still snowing in Illinois. It was a snowfall that had started on Christmas Eve, and was remembered for years afterwards as simply the “Deep Snow”. Deep snowdrifts became encrusted with ice from freezing rain, often trapping livestock, wild game and people. Some who were trapped that way became easy prey for wolves. Others who perished in subzero temperatures were not found until spring.

In Decatur, 21-year-old Abraham Lincoln would periodically visit a neighbor he split rails for, Macon County Sheriff William Warnick, in search of extra food. On one visit, the Warnicks treated Lincoln for frostbite, after he fell through the ice while crossing the Sangamon River. The Deep Snow finally subsided in mid-February of 1831.