The Grist Mill on the Sangamon River, New Salem
by Etta Ackerman
The artist who created this painting titled “The Grist Mill on the Sangamon River, New Salem” is Etta Ackerman who lived from 1882-1938. She was the daughter of John Ackerman and Narcissus Atterberry. Etta studied art at college in Mt. Pleasant Iowa and then for 3 years in Germany. Her family lived west of Petersburg in the Little Grove community and then in the Bethel neighborhood south of Tallula.
New Salem was one of her favorite spots for painting.
Etta established a studio in Springfield and taught art there for many hears. She was a founding member of the Springfield Art Association.
This reproduction of an oil on canvas reflects the mill at New Salem. The mill was originally build in 1828-29 by James Rutledge and James Camron. It was later acquired by the Bale family and updated in 1853 to the appearance in this painting.
The dam in the painting is the structure that would have caused the flat boat Lincoln and his companions were piloting to get stuck. This led to Lincoln’s discovery and eventual return to the New Salem community.
The original painting, which is 47″ x 28″ was part of a retrospective 1996 exhibit of 9 Menard County artists. It is owned by private collectors Dave and Pam Williams who generously agreed to its reproduction to benefit the work of Menard County Trails & Greenways.
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