The capitol city of Illinois, Springfield, was founded in 1822. The same year, another town - Sangamo- was platted less than ten miles distant, on the Sangamon River. Both towns competed for the new County Seat of government. Springfield won, and Sangamo Town soon faded away. By the 1830s, the heart of the town (the “mechanics block”) was deserted, and by 1850 the entire village was abandoned.

Little attention was paid to the history of this early frontier community and service center during the subsequent decades. The town once boasted two saw and grist mills, a wool carding mill, a tavern, two general stores, a blacksmith shop, and a doctor’s office. However, it was best remembered as the site where Abraham Lincoln stayed in the spring of 1831 while building a flatboat.

In 1993, several years before he founded the Sangamo Archaeological center, Robert Mazrim located the site of the lost town, in a field overlooking the river. For the next ten years, he conducted testing at the site, and eventually replatted the original lot lines onto the modern landscape. Now that the limits of the town have been defined, it is hoped that the site will be preserved from suburban development as it spreads westward from the city of Springfield.

The investigations at Sangamo ultimately uncovered 
archaeological remains associated with ten town lots, as well as those affiliated with the two saw and grist mills and the carding mill. Finds include a sample of blacksmithing debris from Jacob Roll’s shop, a pit cellar beneath Roll’s dry goods store, material affiliated with at least two milling families, the stone lined cellar beneath the home of the town proprietor Charles Broadwell,  and a large earthen-walled cellar that produced artifacts form Jacob Carmen’s Tavern, where Lincoln boarded for six week in the spring of 1831. The site of Sangamo Town today. THE LOST TOWN OF “SANGAMO”
A detailed overview of the discovery and excavation of these sites is include in Mazrim’s 2007 book, The Sangamo Frontier, published by the University of Chicago Press. FrontierBooks.htmlshapeimage_5_link_0
A brick foundation affiliated with a saw and grist mill, exposed by erosion. A limestone lined well, downtown Sangamo Town. Staffordshire plate and American redware vessels found in the cellar of Roll’s Store.