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People & Events

Glen Ellyn program to present friendship between Abraham Lincoln, barber

Wheaton author Glennette Tilley Turner will talk about her children's book, "Billy the Barber's Mirror: Reflecting on an Untold Lincoln Story," during a program at 2 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn. The book is about the relationship between President Abraham Lincoln and his barber, William de Fleurville.
Wheaton author Glennette Tilley Turner will talk about her children's book, "Billy the Barber's Mirror: Reflecting on an Untold Lincoln Story," during a program at 2 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn. The book is about the relationship between President Abraham Lincoln and his barber, William de Fleurville.

GLEN ELLYN – Much has been written about President Abraham Lincoln and his roots in Illinois.

But Wheaton author Glennette Tilley Turner discovered more about his life, particularly about his relationship with his barber, Haitian-born businessman William de Fleurville. Turner will talk about her children's book, "Billy the Barber's Mirror: Reflecting on an Untold Lincoln Story," during a program at 2 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn.

Turner and the book's illustrator, Linnea Carlson, will be available to sign the book after the event. Admission is $6, and tickets are available at the door. Refreshments will be served.

Her presentation will delve into the subject in greater depth for those adults in the audience.

"My mother had a childhood memory of knowing the family that had inherited a mirror that had been in the very elegant barber shop," Turner said. "Undoubtedly, that was the mirror that Lincoln had seen his reflection in. Little is known about the man who shaved Lincoln's most distinguishing characteristic, his beard."

Turner said the two of them met before either of them had moved to Springfield.

"Fleurville trained as a barber," she said. "Years later, when Lincoln came to Springfield, he sought out his old barber. The barber shop became Lincoln's second home. He not only visited with Billy the Barber, but also made contacts and business connections there. He kept a stack of his law books there. They had an ongoing friendship for many years."

Fleurville also ended up trimming Lincoln's beard.

"After Lincoln began running for president, an 11-year-old girl, Grace Bedell, wrote him and asked him if he had ever thought of wearing whiskers because he had been clean shaven all during his years in Springfield," Turner said. "She [told him] that women loved whiskers and would talk their husbands into voting for him. It was just a wonderful story."

Turner's mother grew up in Springfield, and her knowledge helped her in doing research for the book. Turner is a historian and former teacher; she taught in Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200.

"I just love learning and then telling the untold or little-known stories," she said. "I think having that long-term conversation or communication with de Fleurville gave Lincoln more of an appreciation of how African-Americans really wanted the same things for their children as everyone else. After Lincoln had become president, de Fleurville had written him a beautifully handwritten letter thanking him for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation."

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If you go

WHAT: "Billy the Barber's Mirror: Reflecting on an Untold Lincoln Story"

WHEN: 2 p.m. Feb. 3

WHERE: Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn

COST: $6

INFO: gehs.org

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