© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Drinkin' With Lincoln Episode 3: Before The Presidency, Before The Beard

For our third episode, we head down to Charleston, Illinois, a city bursting with Lincoln history, where we meet up with Joe Woodard, a veteran Lincoln presenter who also happens to be beardless. A beardless Lincoln? How is that possible? But Lincoln didn't grow his beard until the 1860 election, so anyone portraying Lincoln's career as a prairie lawyer in Illinois should, for authenticity's sake, be clean shaven. Woodard's tonsured chops have defined his Lincoln career, giving him opportunities not available to his bewhiskered colleagues.

In the first half of this episode, Joe takes us on a tour of the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, which recreates and preserves the farm of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's father and step-mother. We also visit Thomas Lincoln's grave, the site of a Lincoln-Douglas debate that took place in Charleston, and the world's tallest Abraham Lincoln statue. There's a lot of Lincoln to cover in Charleston, and it's a complicated side of Lincoln we don't often see in the history books: his strained relationship with his father, his defense of a slaveowner in a Charleston trial, and his controversial views on racial equality.

Then Joe and I visit Jackson Avenue Coffee in downtown Charleston, where Joe tells us how he got started as Lincoln, how being beardless affected his career, and how he prepares for the role. We also learn that Joe is not afraid to be critical of Lincoln. You'll find all of that and more in this episode of Drinkin’ with Lincoln.

You can also listen to this episode at these podcast directories:



Google Play



Bonus content:

The only known image of Abraham Lincoln's father, Thomas Lincoln.

Bonus Clip 1 - Joe Woodard on Thomas Lincoln photo (March 19, 2019)

Only known image of Abraham Lincoln wearing a white suit.

Bonus Clip 2 - Joe Woodard on Abraham Lincoln's suits (March 19, 2019)

Abraham Lincoln on the day of his famous Cooper Union speech, February 27, 1860. Taken by Mathew Brady.

Bonus Clip 3 - Joe Woodard comments on Lincoln's wrinkled clothes in his famous Cooper Union portrait (March 19, 2019)

Show Notes

Lincoln Presenter:

Joe Woodard


Mana Kintorso (performed live on Sessions from Studio A)

Kendra Swanson (performed live on Sessions from Studio A)

Behind the Beard Location:

Jackson Avenue Coffee, Charleston, Ill.


Lincoln: Prelude to Presidency, a documentary from WILL-TV, Illinois Public Media

Lincoln (2012), a film by Steven Spielberg, scene featuring Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Gloria Reuben as Elizabeth Keckley

In-production Lincoln documentary from Witnessing History Education Foundation, Inc.

Other Interviewees:

Jerry Grodesky

Places Visited:

Charleston, Coles County, Ill.

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site

Thomas Lincoln Cemetery

Charleston Murals

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum, Charleston

Lincoln Springs Resort

World's Tallest Lincoln Statue

Ashmore, Ill.

Lincoln-related sites mentioned:

Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area

New Salem, Ill.

Vandalia State House

Old State Capitol, Springfield

Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield

Other places mentioned:

Decatur, Ill.

Mattoon, Ill.

Hazel Dell, Ill.

Kaiserslautern, Germany

Abraham Lincoln's Family and associates:

Thomas Lincoln (father)

Nancy Hanks Lincoln (mother)

Sarah Bush Lincoln (step-mother)

John D. Johnston (step-brother)

Matilda Johnston Hall Moore (step-sister)

Dennis Hanks (cousin of his mother)

Mary Lincoln (wife)

Robert Todd Lincoln (son)

William “Willie” Lincoln (son)

Thomas “Tad” Lincoln (son)

Denton Offutt (early business partner, New Salem)

William Herndon (law partner, Springfield)

Other Lincoln Presenters:

Kevin Wood

B.F. McClerren

Association of Abraham Lincoln Presenters (ALP)

Lincoln-Douglas Debates:

Charleston Debate on C-Span

Historical Figures Mentioned:

Stephen Douglas

Elizabeth Keckley

Grace Bedell

Thomas Corwin

Lincoln Sources Mentioned:

Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln

Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln, by Gerald J. Prokopowicz


Snake fence

Saddlebag Cabin

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

Matson Trial

Related Stories