He was in a different town practically every day. In addition to seven formal debates with Douglas, Lincoln made dozens of speeches on his own. He especially liked speaking in a town the day after Douglas had spoken In September he wrote to William Fithian of Danville and told him he would be speaking there on September 22, the day after Douglas: “My recent experience shows that speaking at the same place the next day after D. is the very thing---it is, in fact, a concluding speech on him.”
After a “fine and altogether satisfactory meeting” in Danville, Lincoln traveled to Urbana, where he again spoke a day after Douglas, and then home to Springfield for a weekend at home. On Monday the 27th he spoke in Jacksonville, and on the 28th left Jacksonville for Winchester.
While in Winchester, Lincoln stayed at a hotel operated by Robert E. Haggard. Haggard, a 51-year-old native of Kentucky, had seven daughters who ranged in age from 9 to 26. One of these girls, 21-year-old Rosaline Haggard, was bold enough to approach Lincoln with a request that he sign her autograph album. Evidently charmed by her youth, Lincoln wrote the following lines:
You are young, and I am older;
You are hopeful, I am not---
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder---
Pluck the roses ere they rot.
Teach your beau to heed the lay---
That sunshine soon is lost in shade---
That now's as good as any day---
To take thee, Rosa, ere she fade.
Winchester, Sep. 28. 1858. A. Lincoln”
All in all it was a kind of gloomy poem to write to a young girl. Perhaps Lincoln had asked her if she had a beau or any plans to marry and Rosa confessed to a young man who was dragging his feet.
The next day Lincoln addressed a crowd gathered at the Scott County Courthouse. Before departing for Pittsfield on September 30th, Rosaline’s 19-year-old sister Melinda, or Linnie, also requested a few lines of verse from Lincoln. As he had with Rosa, Lincoln obliged her with an original composition:
A sweet plaintive song did I hear,
And I fancied that she was the singer---
May emotions as pure, as that song set a-stir
Be the worst that the future shall bring her.
Winchester Sep. 30 1858 A. Lincoln
Rather less of a downer than the earlier poem, Lincon’s lines seem to suggest that Melinda had entertained the hotel’s company with her singing.
Autographs were a popular way for ever-sentimental Victorians to capture notes, poems, drawings, and sometimes even the hair of their friends. The earliest surviving example of Lincoln’s signature in an album dates to February 23 of 1858, when he signed the first page of a book belonging to Henry Rankin, a law student in his office: “To-day, Feb. 23 1858, the owner honored me with the privilege of writing the first name in this book. A. Lincoln.
Lincoln would sign his name to several albums as President of the United States, but never with the beauty and poignancy with which he composed his verses for the two Haggard sisters of Winchester, Illinois.
 Abraham Lincoln to William A. Fithian, 3 September 1858, in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1953), III:85.
 Abraham Lincoln to Norman B. Judd, 23 September 1858, Collected Works, III:202.
 United States Census, 1850.
 Verses to Rosa Haggard, 28 September 1858, Collected Works, III:203.
 Verses to Linnie Haggard, 30 September 1858, Collected Works, III: 204.
 Abraham Lincoln to Henry B. Rankin, 23 February 1858, Collected Works, II;435.