Kevin Wood, of Adrian, performs as Abraham Lincoln in front of a crowd of nearly 100 people at the Novi Public Library Feb. 1.

Kevin Wood, of Adrian, performs as Abraham Lincoln in front of a crowd of nearly 100 people at the Novi Public Library Feb. 1.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Honest Abe makes appearance at Novi Public Library

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published February 8, 2024


NOVI — History enthusiasts throughout the Novi community were treated to lunch and conversation with Abraham Lincoln at the Novi Public Library Feb. 1 in honor of Presidents Day Feb. 19.

The former president, as presented by renowned Lincoln impersonator Kevin Wood, spoke of his childhood, his family and the Civil War, with bits of humor added to the mix from time to time. The presentation was followed by a question-and-answer session, where Wood answered questions as Lincoln.

Wood, who resides in Adrian, has been making presentations as Lincoln for 24 years. He said that although his resemblance to Lincoln is uncanny, he is in no way related to Lincoln. The last descendent of Lincoln passed away in 1985.

Wood said he decided to portray Lincoln to audiences across the country because of the 16th president’s importance to the nation and his “inspiring” personal story. He started portraying the president at his church in 2000. Initially, he said, it was just a hobby, but it evolved into a side gig, and then in 2015 he took on the Lincoln persona as a full-time career.

“The more I have studied Lincoln and his times, the better I have been able to understand him and bring his persona to life,” Wood said.

Wood said that what he likes the most about performing as Lincoln is “the great enjoyment it brings to other people of all ages and the opportunity to educate them while also inspiring and/or challenging them.”

According to Wood, the most important thing to learn from Lincoln is how he desired to improve his own life while at the same time improving the lives of others. He said that Lincoln’s core character traits led him to do that, traits that include kindness, compassion, honesty, empathy and industry.

“We thought he was fabulous,” said Kathryn Bailey, of Novi. “I mean, I think I learned more (about Lincoln) in his one little discussion than I remember from high school, and that was a long time ago. He made it so interesting and so involved, and just the different things that he was saying was bringing everybody in, and he was joking in some places, but very pointedly saying some of the things. So I loved it. I hope (the library) brings him back again.”

Susan Horsburgh, of Novi, agreed with Bailey and added that she really enjoyed that Wood told Lincoln’s story in the first person.

“It shows that our community has a deep interest in history, not just in Michigan, but throughout the country,” said Kim Nice, the chair of the Novi Historical Commission.

Bailey said she liked how interactive Wood was with the audience and how well he was able to answer questions as Lincoln.

Bailey said she goes to many library events and had never seen one so well attended. According to Nice, the chair of the Novi Historical Commission, events with a person  presenting as a historical figure tend to draw much larger audiences. She said she believes that reenactors make a presentation much more interesting. In this case, approximately 100 people attended the event.

“His remarks were just so good. Some of them were, like, tongue-in-cheek with things that he was saying, what he was meaning, but I really liked it,” Bailey said.

“I can come back to the other 13 presentations (Wood does about Lincoln),” said Tom Taepke, of Farmington Hills.

“He was very knowledgeable, and it just flowed,” said Larry Urvig, of Novi. “He just got up to talk. He didn’t need notes. No script of any kind.”

“It was great. I’ve always been interested in the Civil War, and that’s what brought me out. I’ve been watching a series by Ken Burns called ‘The Civil War,’ and I’ve been enjoying that, but it takes a long time, right, so I saw the lunch with Lincoln, so I said, ‘Oh, that might be a good idea,’” said Julian Velosa, of Novi. “This was the first time that I really understood how the Civil War started and how Lincoln was so interested in abolition. So it gave me a broader understanding. It was very nice, very well done. He knows a lot about the history. So I really enjoyed the event.”

Wood has now made a third career of performing as Lincoln. He travels across the country, offering 14 different adult programs as Honest Abe and one children’s presentation. He offers his programs in four languages: English, French, Spanish and German, and performs at all sorts of places, from libraries to schools, nursing homes, churches, parties, fundraisers and more.

Prior to his career as Abe Lincoln, Wood worked as an environmental scientist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 11 years and was a missionary “church planter” in Spain for 10 years. Wood currently resides in Adrian with his wife, a high school teacher who once performed alongside him as Mary Todd Lincoln. He has three adult daughters who “tolerate” him being Lincoln.

To find out where Wood will be presenting as Lincoln or to book a presentation, go to