I will go just about anywhere to feel Abraham Lincoln's presence. I've driven to his out-of-the-way boyhood homes in Kentucky and Indiana. I've walked in his footsteps at the White House and Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.
And, of course, I've explored every touchstone in his home state of Illinois, no matter how obscure. In a town called Petersburg, I tramped through a farmer's field to get to a small pioneer graveyard. I climbed over a rusty fence and found the tombstone for Ann Rutledge. Yes, I was trespassing on private property, but I couldn't help myself. I just had to see the spot where Lincoln's first love was buried.
You'd think someone so obsessed with Abraham Lincoln sites would have visited the one only 30 minutes from his house in Madison. But believe it or not, I'd never heard of Lincoln's connection to Janesville until I happened to read about it at a highway rest stop last year. Turns out I had sped right past a little-known Lincoln shrine dozens of times on Interstate 90 without even realizing it.
In honor of Abe's 206th birthday, listen to this commentary on the Lincoln Tallman house, where Honest Abe spent an eventful two nights in 1859. It originally appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio's "Wisconsin Life."