Saturday, January 11, 2014


Readers of my forthcoming book, Abraham Lincoln's Most Famous Case: The Almanac Trial, might like a who's who of the major figures in the Almanac Trial. Here it is:

Allen, Charles—Eyewitness who testified that he saw Duff Armstrong strike Preston Metzker with a slungshot.

Apolitical Observer, The—The anonymous informant whose version of the trial saw print in the newspaper article “A Sensation Story Spoilt.”

Arenz, Probate Judge—Provided the second almanac which was compared to Lincoln’s almanac during the trial.

Armstrong, Hannah—Widowed mother of Duff Armstrong who recruited Lincoln for the defense.

Armstrong, William Duff—Accused murderer of Preston Metzker.

Bergen, Abram—Attended the trial to study Lincoln's performance as a trial lawyer.

Brady, John T.—Member of the jury.

Byers, Abraham—Photographer who made an ambrotype of Lincoln on the afternoon of the Almanac Trial.
Cartwright, Peter--Keynote speaker at the camp meeting where Metzker was killed.

Dick, Sheriff James—Bailiff at Armstrong trial. 

Dilworth, Caleb—Attorney hired by Hannah Armstrong to defend her son.

Douglas, William A.—First witness called in the Almanac Trial. Pulled Metzker off of Allen.

Dowell, George—Witness to the fight. Helped William Douglas pulled Metzker off of Allen.

Edwards, Thomas S.—A Clary’s Grove Boy who pleaded with Lincoln to take Duff Armstrong’s case.

Fullerton, Hugh—Elected state’s attorney who prosecuted Norris and Armstrong.

Harriott, Judge James—Presided over the trials of both Duff Armstrong and James H. Norris.

Havinghorst, John H.—Foreman of the grand jury which indicted Armstrong and Norris.

Husted, John—Deputy Sheriff who arrested Charles Allen for failure to answer his subpoena.

Lacey, Lyman—Law partner of William Walker who assisted in the defense of Norris and Armstrong.

Logan, Milton—Foreman of the Almanac Trial jury.

Metzker, James Preston—Victim of the killing which was charged in the Almanac Trial indictment.

Norris, James H.—Co-defendant of William Duff Armstrong who was convicted of manslaughter and later pardoned.

Parker, Dr. Charles—Defense witness at the Almanac Trial.
Randle, George—Circuit riding preacher who organized the camp meeting at which Metzker was killed.

Shaw, J. Henry—Assisted Hugh Fullerton in the prosecution of Armstrong.

Stephenson, Dr. Benjamin F.—Testified for the prosecution in the Almanac Trial.

Walker, William—Attorney for John H. Norris who also assisted the defense in the trial of Duff Armstrong.

Watkins, Nelson—Witness for the defense who admitted making the slungshot alleged to have killed Metzker.

Western Republican, The—Anonymous informant whose account of the trial was first told in the newspaper article “Thrilling Episode from the Life of Lincoln.”

Yates, Governor Richard—Pardoned James H. Norris for the murder of Metzker.


  1. Bob, excited to see something like this be published ... my 3rd great grandfather was James Henry Norris ... I am just now learning about this ... my grandmother kept this a family secret for decades and just before her death in the 1986 revealed it to one of my aunts who got the story all turned around ... I can see why she'd keep our association of one of the most famous trials in history secret ... is there anything you can tell me about 3G grandpa Norris' trial? Thank you. Jim Winslow

    1. Yes, I believe there is quite a bit I could tell you about your ancestor's trial and the events leading up to it. Go to and give me your email address and I can tell you what I know. You have inspired me to write a blog post specifically about Norris. It will come out within the next couple of weeks, but I don't think it will contain everything I can tell you.