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Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association

The Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA) spearheaded an effort to commemorate Abraham Lincolnís surveying career with a life-size statue that was unveiled in the fall of 2003 at Lincolnís New Salem Historic Site near Petersburg, Illinois.  New Salem is where Lincoln lived when he was teaching himself the art and science of surveying and from where he traveled in his role as a Deputy Surveyor of Sangamon County.

The Lincoln Surveyor Statue Project is the first opportunity to commemorate a relatively unknown segment from the life of Americaís 16th President.

With all the books, movies and documentaries produced on Abraham Lincoln, his work as a surveyor has been virtually ignored.  Few people realize that before his survey work, Lincoln was defeated in his bid for elected office.  Within two years after he began surveying, Abraham Lincoln was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.  This was his first step on the road to the White House.


The Statue

The Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA) commissioned sculptor John McClarey to complete this significant work based on the original pen-and-ink artistry of noted Lincoln artist Lloyd Ostendorf.  Following the death of Lloyd Ostendorf, his brother Ned modified the print for greater professional accuracy.

The Surveyor Statue depicts 25-year-old Abraham Lincoln standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall, wearing a loose cotton shirt and jacket with pants and boots.


Surveyors, historians, Lincoln enthusiasts, small firms and large corporations were invited to contribute toward the $130,000 that it cost to make the Lincoln Surveyor Statue Project a reality.

Every donation was received gratefully, regardless of size.  Gold Compass Donors were recognized on the statue base and received Lincoln surveying mementos.  These items are now available for purchase.

Project History

Lincolnís work as a surveyor was first documented by Adin Baber, a surveyor from southeastern Illinois.  While researching his genealogical connection to the family of Lincolnís mother, Nancy Hanks, Mr. Baber began to document Abraham Lincolnís surveying work.

Before his death in the 1970s,  Mr. Baber researched early surveying instruments made by the Hanks family, studied the surveying laws under which Abraham Lincoln worked, and resurveyed and redrew plats from many original Lincoln surveys.  He visited the towns Lincoln helped lay out and even located some of the bearing trees Lincoln used to establish critical survey points.

Mr. Baber then published a book, A. Lincoln with Compass and Chain, to document his research.  This book contains much of the information we know today about how Lincoln practiced surveying, and it became the impetus for the Lincoln Surveyor Statue Project.

Contact Information

If you have questions about the Lincoln Surveyor Statue Project or want to know how you, your organization or your firm can assist with fund-raising, contact:

The Lincoln Surveyor Statue Project
Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association
203 South Walnut Street -- P.O. Box 588
Rochester, Illinois 62563-0588

IPLSA Executive Director
Robert E. Church
(217) 498-8102



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