Birchall, Caleb

Born: 1808-02-09 Pennsylvania

Died: 1860-01-02

Flourished: Springfield, Illinois

Birchall arrived in Springfield, Illinois in 1837. He opened a bookbindery and bookstore. His first partnership with John H. Johnson (Birchall & Johnson, a bindery) ended in 1841 when John S. Bradford bought out Birchall’s interest in the firm, which then became Johnson & Bradford, a competitor of Birchall’s subsequent partnerships. Birchall & Goudy, Birchall’s next business partnership with Ensley T. Goudy, printed and distributed Goudy’s Illinois Farmers’ Almanac, first published by Goudy’s father in 1835. In 1848, Goudy left the partnership just a few weeks before he died, and Thomas J. V. Owen replaced him. Birchall & Owen’s book and drug business, on the south side of the Capitol square in Springfield, sold books, stationery, patent medicine, other nostrums, etc., and was a wholesaler for patent medicine for the surrounding territory. After Owen left the partnership in 1855 to become partners in a drugstore with his brother, Birchall continued his business solo until he sold out in 1857. Caleb Birchall was active in Springfield civic affairs, the temperance movement, and in the Whig Party. In 1850, he was working as a book binder with his wife Charity and three children and owned $3,000 in real estate. He was a member of the Sangamon County Colonization Society, the Mechanics’ Union, the Sangamon County Horticultural Society, and a trustee of the Presbyterian Parochial school. Birchall encountered Abraham Lincoln several times in court: he sat on juries or served as witness in cases Lincoln litigated, and Lincoln even represented Birchall once.

Gravestone, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL; Finding Aid, C. Birchall (Firm), (Springfield, IL) Records, 1796-1860, Manuscript Division, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Sangamon County, IL, 112; Petition of Simeon Francis and others to the Illinois General Assembly; Abraham Lincoln and Others to Henry Clay; Simeon Francis and Others to James Smith; Birchall v. De Castro, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009),