JEFFERSON, Iowa — Jed Magee of Jefferson, an authority on the life and career of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and a member of the board of directors of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society, will speak on “Lincoln’s Learning and His Mentors” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8 at the museum in Jefferson at 219 E. Lincoln Way.
Admission to the lecture and refreshments will be free.
Magee, a lifelong collector of Lincoln books, art and other memorabilia, donated most of his extensive collection to the local historical society in 2016. He now speaks occasionally on different aspects of Lincoln’s history.
A native of Dunkerton in northeast Iowa, Jed is a retired attorney and Iowa District Court judge. He spent the first half of his career practicing law in Jefferson and then was appointed a judge and served the second half of his career while based in Charles City.
After he fully retired in 2015, he and his wife, Betty, decided to move back to Jefferson, where both were very involved in the community in their earlier years here.
Magee’s fascination with Abraham Lincoln began when he was in seventh grade in Dunkerton, and his teacher thought he needed more of an academic challenge. She told him to pick out some public figure whom he might enjoy doing some research about, and he read a book about Lincoln, who served as president from 1861 until his assassination in 1865, during the Civil War.
“That teacher bought me my first scrapbook, for $1.29, and I started cutting out articles I found about Lincoln,” Magee said. “I kept that up and by the time I was finishing high school, I had that scrapbook pretty well filled.”
He continued collecting Lincoln stories and memorabilia during his college years, and he never really stopped.
For most of his career, Magee kept his collection in his office in Charles City. It included 10 shelves full of books about Lincoln, 30 busts of Lincoln at different stages of his life, photographs — including two that are more than 100 years old — prints, paintings and more.
How many books has he read on Lincoln?
“Hundreds,” Magee said. “I just finished another that was published this year. And I still find myself learning new things about Lincoln.”
In his program this Sunday, Magee said he’ll talk about how Lincoln was basically self-taught by being a voracious reader himself. But he also studied the writings and works of others, who became like mentors to him.
As a “teaser” to help get the public ready for this latest program, Magee drops this question: “What do Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln have in common?”
He’ll be open to more general questions about Lincoln’s life and legacy.
Chuck Offenburger is on the board of directors of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society.