OAKLAND – Abraham Lincoln, or his current look, rode a stagecoach to Oakland on Saturday. He paused to give a short speech about what it means to live in a free country.
“We judge you by what you do, not who your father was,” he said.
He then posed for iPhone photos with local children and history buffs.
It was all part of the fun of Living History Day in Oakland on Saturday. Hundreds turned out for the event where kids asked to be locked up in jail and did the hokey pokey with MPs to be let out. Trappers brought furs and leather goods, muskets were shot into the air, women in bonnets and long skirts sang and can-can girls greeted passers-by.
Mary Todd Lincoln accompanied her husband to the event. Mary, also known as Dawn Goodson of Monmouth, joined Alan Edwards, the tall, lanky guy who has played a compelling “Honest Abe” reenactor since 1994.
Goodson said she loved Abraham Lincoln since she was 5 years old. She was thrilled when she met Edwards in the Enchanted Forest in Salem, where he also acted out Lincoln.
“I mean, look at it,” said Goodson. “It was love at first sight, what can I say.”
Abraham Lincoln noticed he was offered the governorship of Oregon but turned it down because his wife refused to come west.
The Oakland parish was only 10 years old when the Civil War began in 1861.
Lincoln became poetic about the importance of small towns like Oakland.
Small towns in the west, he said, protect individual independence and display the “true nature and character of the American soul”.
Also dressed for the event was Isaac Powell, 6, also known as “Dead Eye Isaac”, a dead alarm clock for Davy Crockett.
“It’s fun,” said Isaac, “my mom bought my suit and we came to Living History Day. We’re driving a stagecoach. We didn’t know a Lincoln was coming. He was cool. “
Isaac, who is home schooled, planned to spend his day “looking at things and doing many things.”
There was certainly a lot to do and see. Protesters demonstrated how chicken feed can be milled in an old-fashioned Russ Cooper feed mill. A blacksmith showed how to make a hammer. A choir sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
One of the most popular locations was the county jail, where Deputy Carl Toothless, also known as Carl Moore, and Deputy Pat Stone pounded it. Toothless said he was handcuffed as a deputy after being caught stealing pigs.
He took on a more serious tone for a moment and said he was thrilled to see the turnout for the first time. Moore lives in Melrose but lived in Oakland for many years.
“It just goes to show that there are many wonderful people here in Oakland,” he said. “There is nothing like small towns.
Lots of kids were dying to end up in jail so they could get an idea, and then hokey pokey their way out of, well, pokey.
Some adults were also briefly behind bars. Tim Mitchell’s name and picture were on a wanted poster indicating that he had molested painted women and turkey frenzy.
“I like needle springs,” he joked.
Mitchell owns the oldest house in town, built in 1855. He wore a real beaver top hat and an authentic vintage-vintage jacket.
He enjoyed seeing people talking, laughing and joking, having fun, and mostly ignoring their cell phones.
He believes that some things were done better before when people learned etiquette and dancing and spent time talking to each other rather than texting. The Saturday event brought back a bit of that old goodness.
“The things that embody this time should have been presented,” he said.
Oakland residents were very pleased with the turnout.
“It’s a wonderful way to bring the community together,” said Landa Baily, Oakland secretary for economic development.
Baily said she was also pleased to see people from California and Eugene, as well as other cities in Douglas County, attend the event.
General events coordinator Conni Riley was also happy.
“I am very happy with the turnout. It was amazing, ”she said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Goodson was Edwards’ wife in real life.