While living at New Salem, Lincoln went into partnership with William Berry, and the two ran a store together for a little over a year. William’s father, the Reverend John Berry, had contracted for the construction of a small but fancy frame dwelling for the family in 1825. This was located just south of the town of New Salem, on Rock Creek. During the mid-1820s, most of the homes in the region were made of logs, and the Berry residence was one of the more well-finished houses in the neighborhood. 

The Berry house was actually left standing after is abandonment in the mid-1800s, and was eventually converted into a barn. This concealed the historic nature of the building, and gradually the old house fell into decay. In 2001, its owner decided to dismantle the building. 

Although the early nineteenth century structure had been destroyed, the property still contained intact archaeological deposits and features. As no state funding was available for an examination of the site, the Sangamo Archaeological Center raised private funds for a limited archaeological investigation of the property.

The 2002 fieldwork exposed a large and well made stone walled cellar, which had been filled while the barn was still standing. The cellar was well finished, with whitewashed walls and a plaster-coated earthen floor. In the back yard of the house was encountered a large circular pit, which contained chimney rubble and domestic artifacts believed to be associated with the Berry family's first dwelling - a log cabin- dating to 1822.

The results of the 2002 excavations were reported
in the Center’s Research Bulletin series. Though that publication is now out of print, a pdf version can be requested HERE. Also, the site is discussed in Mazrim’s 2007 book, The Sangamo Frontier, published by the University of Chicago Press.
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THE REVEREND BERRY SITE
The crew shovels out early 20th century fill. Illinois State Historian Dr. Thomas Schwartz, with
landowner Robert Sampson, screens soil for artifacts. The Berry house after converted into a barn. The Berry house, abandoned, in 1922. The 1825 cellar after its cleaning in 2002.