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Larry Elliott fully commits to his character of Abraham Lincoln when he visits school children to discuss the president's life and legacy. But even Lincoln, honest as ever, couldn’t shy away from recommending a very 21st-century source for historical information — Google.
Though he had to break character to suggest the search engine, he hopes his presentations sparks students’ interest in history and inspire them to learn more on their own.
Elliott, a Lincoln presenter, visited Vine Grove Elementary School on Monday and spoke to fifth-grade students about the Civil War and slavery. He discussed Lincoln’s childhood, his self-education and the formation of his views of slavery, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation.
Elliott, a Hodgenville resident, is a descendant of Mary Brooks LaRue, the midwife who delivered Lincoln. Discovering his lineage encouraged Elliott’s interest in the 16th president, and he has been presenting as Lincoln for nearly a decade.
While the stovetop hat isn’t a permanent fixture, the beard is, and Elliott admitted some hesitance about the facial hair when he first grew it. Learning he had a personal connection to the president “kept me going,” he said.
Elliott said he has great admiration for the man who kept the country together, freed slaves and served as president with very little formal education.
“The main reason I do this is to keep the Lincoln legacy alive,” he said.
Elliott travels around the state and delivers about 300 presentations a year, mostly in February and March. He will be in Harlan County later in the week. But he loves going to Hardin County, which at one point included Lincoln’s birthplace. He also really enjoys speaking to fifth-graders because of their interest in the subject.
Fifth-grader Kaitlin Yates said she didn’t know much about Lincoln and really enjoyed learning about him through a presenter.
There was a lot of content to the presentation for student Dylan Lowman.
“He gave a lot of details and a lot of information,” Lowman said.
Any hesitation about wearing Abe’s beard is gone now for Elliott.
“I’m having more fun than I ever dreamt possible,” he said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747, or at firstname.lastname@example.org