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Were it not for John Wilkes Booth's bullets, Abraham Lincoln might have turned 199 last week (hey, you never know - people are living longer).
Committees in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois - the three states in which he lived - already have plans in high gear for Lincoln's 200th birthday celebration.
Tell City is also gearing up for a celebration of its own, this summer's 150th anniversary of the town's founding.
One Tell City Historical Society member told me the sesquicentennial committee was thinking of choosing the top athletes in Tell City's entire history as part of that celebration and honoring all the living ones at the Schweizer Fest.
I wish them luck. But it's hard to find accurate information on local athletes from just 60 years ago - let alone 150 years ago.
If Tell City is willing to tackle such a monumental project, though, Troy might want to do something similar in the next few years when it celebrates its 200th birthday (the town was officially platted in 1815 but there was much activity there as early as 1811).
Ditto for Perry County when its 200th anniversary comes up in 2014.
Believe it or not, there is a relationship between all these events, as Lincoln was probably the first great athlete in the history of Troy and Perry County.
I know, you're saying you didn't know Lincoln ever lived in Perry County and you've heard he was a gangly, awkward youth - not a great athlete.
As to the first point, when Lincoln's family moved to what is now Lincoln City, that area was part of Perry County. It was not until two years later, in 1818, that it became part of Spencer County when that county was formed by the state legislature from parts of Perry and Warrick counties.
So you say that's a mere technicality and still means Lincoln lived in Perry County only from ages 7 to 9.
But according to Louis A. Warren's book, "Lincoln's Youth: Indiana Years, 1816-1830" (published by the Indiana Historical Society), at age 17 Lincoln was living with James Taylor's family in Troy, from where he would use his small boat to row passengers out to steamboats that were heading down the Ohio River.
He also cut cordwood for passing steamboats and worked at a packinghouse operated by Taylor.
Wrote Warren, "At intervals he had visited the town (of Troy, where his family did much of its trading) but now he would consider himself almost one of its citizens."
As for Lincoln's athletic ability, Warren and another biographer have attested to that as well.
John Locke Scripps in "The First Published Life of Abraham Lincoln," wrote that he "greatly excelled in all those homely feats of strength, agility and endurance as practiced by frontier people. . . . In wrestling, jumping, throwing the maul and pitching the crowbar (the latter two feats similar to throwing the hammer and javelin in today's college track meets), he always stood first among those of his own age . . . and even when pitted against those of maturer years, he was almost always victorious."
Added Warren, "Abe's long legs carried him to the fore in running and jumping competition. He was supposed to have been able to cover 41 feet in what was called the three hops.'"
So if the IHSAA had been formed 80 years earlier than its 1903 start, it's easy to imagine that Lincoln would have been a track star for the Troy Trojans (unless the IHSAA refused to grant him full eligibility because his father and stepmother had not moved with him to Troy).
He might well have duplicated the feat of 1920s Tell City star Art Wagner and won eight individual events and one relay in a single track meet (before the IHSAA established the four-event limit for each athlete).
And if Dr. James Naismith had invented basketball 65 years earlier than he actually did (in 1891), the 6-foot-4 Lincoln could have been a star center for Troy.
If the school consolidations of the 1950s and '60s had taken place 140 years earlier, Lincoln would have attended Tell City High School, as current Troy kids do.
There he would have also had the option of playing football (if it had been invented), where his combination of size, strength and speed would have made him an ideal tight end and defensive end. Or perhaps because of his strong arm and leadership ability, he would have been a quarterback.
It's a shame there weren't high school sports when Lincoln lived in this area, as Indiana would have had a stronger claim on him.
Kentucky likes to claim Lincoln because he was born there. And Illinois bills itself as the "Land of Lincoln" because he spent his adult life there until he entered the White House.
Hoosier historians say Indiana is where "Lincoln spent his formative years," but scholars from other states tend to scoff at that claim.
If Lincoln had made a name for himself as an IHSAA athlete, though, he would forever be strongly associated with Indiana.
Consider the example of Tom Kron for proof. He was born in Kentucky and lived his adult life in Kentucky and briefly in Texas. He never lived in Indiana after he graduated from high school.
But because he starred in sports four years at Tell City High School and led the Marksmen to the 1961 state final four, he is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and will always be remembered as a Hoosier.