Learning Lincoln On-line
Topic- Virtual Field Trip Through Coles County for Lincoln and Grant Sites
#15 The Five Mile House, also Known as the Jug House-- Exact Site and Original Structure
Location: 5 miles south of the Coles County Courthouse on Rte. 130
The Five Mile House is the oldest existing structure in Coles County. It would serve as an inn, tavern as well as a blacksmith/wagon repair shop. A horse doctor even owned and operated it at one time.
According to Jared Holtz, in his online article about the Five Mile House, he states that, "Two brothers, Rhodes and David Martin, built the Five Mile House in 1836. The brothers also built a factory close by to make the bricks used for the house." The use of bricks would make the building very strong, and has allowed it exist now for over 171 years. The building's exterior has been fully restored, with current projects (2007) including getting the two fireplaces within it in working condition. Holtz went on to describe the building's history, "The first use of the house was to be a wayside tavern or nowadays it would be called a bread and breakfast. Travelers moving up Archer road, now known as State Route 130, would stop in for a drink and rest up." The Five Mile House is named such because it was a five mile marking on the Archer Road, indicating it was five miles to the court house in Charleston. Many people traveled the Archer Road (now Rte. 130) including Civil War soldiers (of both sides of the war) as well as the gold-seekers of '1849.
Abraham Lincoln would use the road to go to nearby counties of Clark and Cumberland, as well as other places to work his law circuit. It is doubtful if he slept in the Five Mile House, but no doubt would stop to water his horse and perhaps himself. Included in this, as is tradition with Abraham Lincoln, would be a few stories or news items for other Five Mile House visitors and the proprietors.
The connection to Abraham Lincoln is not documented, so Coles historians cannot prove he was ever present at the house. The age of the house, and the popularity of it on the Archer Road would deem it highly probable that the future President would have stopped there.