December 6, 1908
Grand Army men are scouring the woods for people who personally knew Abraham Lincoln, in order that provision may be made for including their names in the programme which is being arranged for the Lincoln centenary next February. There are known to be a dozen people living in Kansas City who casually knew the president, but the Grand Army post officers want men who knew Lincoln well enough to call him "Abe." Colonel L. H. Waters says there are no such people here, "because," he said yesterday, "in my time and Mr. Lincoln's time nobody but the people of his own age and in exalted position dared to call him anything but Mr. Lincoln. I knew him for twenty years. I employed him to help me in cases. I was with him in his great campaigns and he helped me during the war, but I never called him 'Abe,' and I seldom heard anybody else so address him. He was like no other man that I ever met."
"Maybe you will break down the 'Abe Lincoln story' legend, too," was said.
"And I will," replied Colonel Waters. "In all those twenty years of fairly close association I never saw Mr. Lincoln sit down and swap stories. He would tell stories to illustrate his points, but he would not do what I do, and what all the balance of us do once in a while, sit down and deliberately say, 'that reminds me,' and go on and tell stories by the dozen. Do not understand me as saying that Mr. Lincoln never told stories. He did, and they were always excruciatingly funny.
"In Kentucky two families had a feud, and two sons moved over to Illinois and, of all bad luck, took up adjoining farms. One went to the farm of the other and called him a shameful name. The offended one was hoeing potatoes at the time. He felled the invader with the blade and was indicted. I defended him when he was tried for the criminal offense and Mr. Lincoln helped me. He knew I was to get $50 and, when I asked him -- we were at Macomb -- to help me, he said he would have to charge me $25. It was pretty stiff in view of my getting only $50, but I agreed to it. Mr. Lincoln was an older man than I. He let me try the case, sat behind and prompted me, as he always prompted young lawyers, and wrote out the instructions. Then he made me copy them and for a quarter of a century 'my' instructions were held up to public view in that district. I took credit for them, but the credit belonged to Mr. Lincoln.
"I asked him if he thought the judge would give them to the jury.
" 'They are the law,' Mr. Lincoln answered. 'The judge will give them.'
We got our man off and then the bully sued him for $5,000 damages. It was the first damage case ever brought in the county. I was to get another $50 for defending the man. Again I turned to Mr. Lincoln and again he said he would have to charge $25.
"Now for an Abraham Lincoln story, which has the merit of being a true one. There were two lawyers on the other side, one with a voice like the Bull of Bashan. He fairly roared when he spoke. Mr. Lincoln always spoke in a conversational tone. His face was worse than homely in repose and more than beautiful when lit up, as it always was when Mr. Lincoln was engaged in conversation.
" 'There is nothing in this case, as the counsel on the other side would admit if only he knew anything about it,' Mr. Lincoln said in our behalf. 'The fortunate thing for the plaintiff is that our client had a hoe instead of a revolver. It is not the day when a man can invade the castle of another and apply to him epithet sand escape without the weight of a blow.
" 'I have said,' Mr Lincoln went on, 'that counsel on the other side would know there was nothing in this suit if only the counsel knew, but counsel talks too loud. He reminds me of the boat on the Sangamon river. It had a four-foot boiler and a six-foot whistle. Every time it whistled it had to stop running, and when it started running it had to stop whistling. Counsel on the other side has to stop thinking when he talks and has to stop talking when he thinks.' "
Colonel Waters is to be the principal speaker at the Lincoln centenary.