Learning Lincoln On-line

Topic Content:  Lincoln Heritage Trail Virtual Field Trip

Topic Three: The Lincolns Move to Macon County, Illinois & Topic Five:  Follow the Lincoln Heritage Trail, Abraham Lincoln moves to New Salem

signThe Lincolns Journey into Illinois  

Thomas Lincoln's first Illinois home--Macon County, near Decatur

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Now called Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park

       Only a stone monument marks the spot where the Thomas Lincoln family lived for about a year in 1830. 

       On the first of March, 1830, Thomas Lincoln, the father of Abraham, sold out his squatter's claims in Indiana, and in company with his family , the sons-in-law and two daughters of his wife, started for central Illinois. Abraham had just completed his twenty-first year.


Across the Wabash into Illinois, March


       The journey was long and tedious, as through the thick mud, only found in the rich soil of the west, their ox-teams dragged the wagons loaded with the personal effect of the emigrants. One of these teams was driven by young Lincoln.
       After a journey of two hundred miles, which they made in fifteen days, they reached Macon County, and the elder Lincoln selected a spot for his house on the north side of the Sangamon river in section 28, Town 16 N., Range 1 E., in what is now Harristown Township. Here at the junction of the timber land and prairie, Abraham assisted his father in erecting a log cabin and in getting the family comfortably settled.
      The cabin was made of hewed timber, and near it was built a smoke-house and stable. A common ax, a broad ax, a hand saw and a "drawer's knife" were all the tools they had to work with. The doors and floor consisted of puncheons, and the gable ends of the building were boarded up with plank "rived" by Abraham's hand out of oak timber. The few nails that were used were brought from their old home in Indiana.
      The cabin stood where it had been erected until 1876, when it was carefully taken apart and shipped to Philadelphia, where it was again put together on the centennial grounds, and remained there during the great exposition, being viewed with interest by thousands of liberty-loving people of the world.
      When the cabin and out buildings were completed, Abraham helped to split rails enough to fence in a lot of ten acres, and built the fence. This done, he broke the ground with ox-teams, and assisted in planting it with corn, after which he turned over the new home to his father, and expressed his intention to make his own fortune. However, he did not leave the region immediately, but worked among the farmers, picking up enough to clothe himself. It is stated that he broke up fifty acres of prairie with four yoke of oxen, and that he spent most of the winter following in splitting rails and chopping wood.
      No one seems to remember for whom Mr. Lincoln worked during this first summer. "A little incident in the pastoral labors of Rev. A. Hale, of Springfield, Illinois, will perhaps indicate his employer. In May, 1861, he went out about seven miles from home to visit a sick lady, and found there a Mrs. Brown who had come in as a neighbor. Mr. Lincoln's name having been mentioned, Mrs. Brown said: 'Well, I remember Mr. Liken. He worked with my old man thirty-four years ago and made a crap. We lived on the same farm where we live now, and he worked all the season, and made a crop of corn, and the next winter they hauled the crap all the way to Galena, and sold it for two dollars and a-half a bushel.
      At that time there was no public houses, and travelers were obliged to stay at any house along the road that could take them in. One evening a right smart-looking man rode up to the fence and asked my old man if he could get to stay over night. "Well," said Mr. Brown, "we can feed your critter, and give you something to eat, but we can't lodge you unless you can sleep on the same bed with the hired man.  The man hesitated and asked, 'Where is he?' 'Well,' said Mr. Brown, 'you can come and see him.' So the man got down from his critter, and Mr. Brown took him around to where, in the shade of the house, Mr. Lincoln lay at full length on the ground, with an open book before him. 'There,' said Mr. Brown, pointing at him, 'he is.' The stranger looked at him a minute, and said, 'Well, I think he'll do,' and he staid and slept with the future President of the United States."
      Mr. Lincoln's father only remained here about one year, on account of sickness in his family, when he moved to Coles county, The story is that After a miserable winter marooned by snow in a crude cabin, Thomas Lincoln started back to Indiana in the spring of 1831. En route, he stopped in Coles County to visit relatives who persuaded him to settle there and give Illinois another chance. After living on three different farms Thomas purchased the Goosenest Prairie farm in 1840, which is today Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, where he lived to see his son one of the leading men in Illinois, and to receive from him many testimonials of filial affection, and to complete his seventy-third year. Thomas Lincoln died January 17, 1851.

Lincoln Heritage Trail, Abraham Lincoln moves to New Salem

The Macon County Courthouse

A Lincoln Timeline

Lincoln's Macon County HomeFollow the Lincolns to Coles County
(Goosenest Farm) near Charleston

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