Metamora a topic in Lincoln film

Sean McGowan
Actor Daniel Day-Lewis is the star of the Lincoln film

In a historic film based on the life of former President Abraham Lincoln, producer Steven Spielberg chose to rehash an account of Lincoln's days as a lawyer in Metamora.

Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, as Lincoln, recalls one of his cases as a lawyer in Metamora — his defense of Oak Grove Park resident Melissa Goings, 77. The name Oak Grove Park represented the Germantown Hills of the 19th and much of the 20th century. Melissa Goings stood trial for the first-degree murder of her abusive husband Roswell Goings.

The movie alludes to the assumption that Lincoln helped Melissa Goings escape the possibility of a death sentence. After the court finds out Goings climbed out of a first-story window, the bailiff accuses Lincoln of running her off. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrays Lincoln in the film, utters a witty reply to the bailiff's accusation.

“I did not run her off,” Lewis said. “She wanted to know where she could get a good drink of water, and I told her there was mighty fine water in Tennessee.”

Myers said he believes Lincoln said those exact words during the Goings trial. However, he disputed that Lincoln actually helped Goings to escape.

“(The sheriff) was standing guard nearby where she escaped,” Myers said. “So he would have caught (Lincoln) if he was helping her.

“Lincoln would have been putting himself in immediate jeopardy.”

Instead, Myers said the anecdote about getting a good drink of water was told by Lincoln for another reason.

“The court was a little chaotic when they found out Goings escaped,” Myers said. “So in order to get control of the court, he told a joke.”

Myers believes Spielberg included the story in the movie as a way to explain how Lincoln came to be president.

“The things that Lincoln did as a president. … He got the experience when he was a lawyer on the eighth judicial circuit,” Myers said.

Even though some of “Lincoln's” story on Metamora may have contained inaccuracies, Spielberg and his crew brought in a fairly large crowd of moviegoers. A HollywoodReporter.com article states that “Lincoln” made $25.1 million in the first weekend of its release.

Myers said many people were drawn into the Metamora Historic Courthouse because of the movie's success.

“A lot of people came in and said, 'Oh we heard about Metamora from the movie and we wanted to hear the full story.'”

The historic courthouse is located at 113 E. Partridge St. in Metamora. Call 367-4470 for more information or email metcourt@mtco.com.