The county seat for the county, Livingston, in which I live is Pontiac, Illinois. Abraham Lincoln practiced law there as he rode the circuit with judges and attorneys from courthouse town to courthouse town. Jesse W. Fell told a story about Lincoln and Pontiac. An influential businessman, Fell was instrumental in the creation of Livingston County and named the town of Pontiac. He was a good friend and supporter of Lincoln, and encouraged him to run against Stephen Douglas for the Senate in 1858, the turning point of Lincoln’s life.
Fell believed that the key to understanding Lincoln was his big heart. He noted that as a lawyer when Lincoln believed his client was in the right he was invincible in argument. If Lincoln thought that his client was in the wrong, his advocacy tended to be lackluster. Illustrating his point about Lincoln’s heart, Fell told this story. The night was dark and stormy in Pontiac and the hotel where the attorneys and Judge were staying was filled to overflowing. Lincoln slept in a small detached house. As he tried to sleep Lincoln heard the piteous meows of a drenched cat outside the house, bewailing the storm. The thought of the suffering feline so moved Lincoln that he was unable to sleep. He opened the door and brought the soaking wet stray into the house.