Very close to New Salem, Illinois is the Farmer’s Point Cemetery. At that quiet resting place one can find the grave of Mentor Graham. The book Mentor Graham: The Man Who Taught Lincoln by authors Kunigunde Duncan and D. F. Nichols tells us that Mr. Graham’s remains were moved from South Dakota to Illinois-thanks to family involvement in the venture. It was thought that reburial near New Salem was entirely appropriate given the work that he did there and the impact he had on others, most notably Abraham Lincoln. The reburial also fit well in the timeline with the rebuilding of New Salem, as interest in it’s history continued to grow over the years. D. F. Nichols calls Graham the “forgotten man.” Yet, the author says, he did more for Lincoln “than all others.” Writing further, Nichols goes on to say: “The familiar metaphor which speaks of New Salem as Lincoln’s Alma Mater” should be completed by adding: ‘The faculty was Mentor Graham.’ ”
The book tells of Graham first meeting Abraham Lincoln and the conversation they had at over a meal:
“…Lincoln said he thought he had right smart chance of a shake with Offutt and that he aimed to stay on and storekeep, and Graham sighed with relief. He drew the youth out, learned what education he had, and, that first night, elicited from him a statement of his ambition to be a public man.”
And, thus, began the most important relationship young Lincoln may have had at that early point in his life. He had an “ambition” to be a “public man.” Mentor Graham fostered that ambition and gave him tools he would need and use for the rest of his life. It’s ironic was Mr. Graham’s name was “Mentor”-because that is just what he was. And let this be noted also- Graham was a teacher. I think it can be said that behind the person who succeeds-there is a teacher somewhere in the background who provided the learning, guidance, and inspiration to achieve and reach goals. For Lincoln, it was Mentor Graham.
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