Beardstown's HistoryBeardstown was laid out and plotted on September 9,1829, and was incorporated the same year. The townspeople named it after its founder, Thomas Beard.
With the arrival of the first steamboat, the Phoenix, in 1827, an important commercial artery to the mid-west was opened. By 1834 Beardstown was transacting more business than any other town in the state. When the river was at the height of its importance, Beardstown had the most extensive pork trade of any western town, successfully competing with Cincinnati. By 1864 Beardstown boasted such manufacturing concerns as brick yards, provision houses, door and sash factories, cabinet and coffin factory, plow factories, carriage and wagon factories, steam saw mill and flour mills and cigar factories.
In May 1837 Beardstown was the largest town in the county and hence it became the county seat. In May 1839 the town of Virginia fought for this honor and the county seat was removed to Virginia. However, in September 1843 it was once again relocated to Beardstown where it remained until 1875 when it was permanently moved to Virginia.
Historically, Beardstown was the site of a dramatic legal incident which involved Abraham Lincoln as defense attorney in a trial which became known as the "Trial of the Almanac."
Duff Armstrong, the sone of Lincolns' friends Jack and Hannah Armstrong
of New Salem, was charged with the murder of a man named Metzker. The trial
was conducted in the Beardstown Courthouse in 1858. Lincoln, through the
use of information found in an Almanac, proved that Armstrong could not
have committed the crime which he was accused and Duff was acquitted. Abraham
Lincoln was also made a Captain in the militia, at the local Schmolt park,
in the Blackhawk Indian War about April of 1833.