The Lincoln Log Cabin and Farms
In 1837, Thomas Lincoln erected a cabin on a tract of land situated one-half
mile to the east. Here he resided until his death in 1851. Abraham Lincoln
visited here frequently, and after 1841 held title to forty acres of land on
which his parents lived. The State of Illinois now owns most of the Lincoln
16th President never lived here, but was known to visit on occasion, and would
visit his step mother, Sarah Bush at the Moore House, before leaving for
Washington D.C. upon his election as President. Much history occurred in and
around Charleston. It is a major section of the Lincoln Heritage Trail. Thomas
Lincoln and his family would separate from the oldest son, Abraham who desired
to go his own way, to make his own fortune. The winter in the Macon County log
house was devastating and the Lincolns headed back to Indiana. On the way back
they stopped in nearby Coles County, where friendly neighbors there would
convince him to give that area a chance. The Lincolns, without Abraham, would
live in three cabins and on three farms before settling at Goosenest, near
Known as Lincoln Log Cabin
Once a walk-through and view log farm, is now a living
farm with animals, crops and interpreters.
The Visitor Center
has a large hands on
and visual museum and a video history presentation
Photos of Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln,
parents of Abraham Lincoln. Both would live their last years at
Goosenest Farm, near Charleston
Thomas Lincoln would be
the subject of many letters sent to and from President Lincoln, his son. These
letters are available for viewing on the Library of Congress "Lincoln Papers"
site. Thomas was a sustenance farmer. He was always able to grow enough, and do
enough on his farm to support his wife for the level of living that they were
used to. The President (always without his family) made several trips to
Charleston and probably often to Goose Nest Farm, but the most famous visit was
after his father had passed (1851) and was on January 30, 1861. That was the
trip in which he would visit his father's grave at Shiloh, enjoy a dinner with
his step-mother and step-sister Tildy, and many others at the Farmington house
(now called Moore Home). Sarah Bush Lincoln was not in the cabin during this
time of the year. She was frail. She would end up back in the cabin during the
year of her own death. According to Dr. Coleman in Lincoln in Coles County,
1955, page 191, the President-elect was only in the Charleston area for some
eight hours and twenty-five minutes. This time included train waiting time at
Tolono. Some time was spent in Mattoon on his trip to Charleston, where he had
to wait for a train. He would stay in the Essex House Hotel (near the depot, on
now Broadway Ave.) in Mattoon. The travel to Charleston from Springfield would
have been a very slow one. The trains burned wood, and had to be "wooded up" to
allow for such a long journey. It could have been a several-hour trip.
Another aspect that
Coleman brings up, is that it would seem the trip to Charleston was not
announced publicly. It was a secret trip. Lincoln had received threats of his
life on his big trip to Washington, so perhaps the trip was made very secretly.
Three or four "old law friends" accompanied him on the train trip.
The Lincoln farm, the
cabin, and most-of-all contain a busy family history, often involving the
President. There was a step-brother of Abraham by the name of John Johnston.
Abraham really liked his step-brother, but at the same time had to suffer much
worry and grief because of his step-brother's problems in "idleness," "no
special virtue but good temper. He never make money, was always needy, and
always clamoring for the aid of his friends.
The Halls, Hanks,
Johnston's and Lincolns had typical pioneer-time links and relations. Many
relationships were "by marriage," and the blood-line for each was not real
long. Dennis Hanks was a second cousin, and lived until his 90's. He would
relate a lot stories about his famous cousin. He, though, ended up a city
person, being a cobbler and a hotel owner. Some of the Johnston's were not
happy with Mr. and Mrs. Hanks.
Thomas Lincoln would
have financial problems at times, especially in 1841. Abraham would purchase
for $200 the east forty acres of the 120-acre farm. This was to aid his father,
and ensure there would always be a place to live. Abraham would put write in
the deed, that his step-mother would always be allowed to live on these acres.
Abraham always tried to help his parents as much as he could. In an old Gridley
family tradition, the story is told by John J. Hall "... Uncle Abe use to come
down every six months and pay off the interest... He done that until he had
money enough to pay the hull debt, and kept up the interest, too."
Thomas would have more
financial problems, but Abraham never sold the acres that he had purchased. The
Johnston's were in a bundle of financial problems, but Abraham couldn't seem to
straighten them out for them. Thomas died in 1851, Abraham died in 1865, and
the land dealings were never thoroughly solved.
It was in the 20th
century that this same stretch of acres that Abraham Lincoln would see new legal
battles. A person in our own time tried to sell brick-sized portions of the
land that A. Lincoln owned.
To top it all off the
original log cabin disappeared after being loaned to the Chicago World's Fair.
A similar fate had happened to the cabin at Lincoln's birthplace.
of personal letters are available for reading on the Library of Congress
Near the Lincoln Log Cabin State
Historic Site is the
Moore Home. Visit my Website to tell the story of Abraham Lincoln's last
visit to Central Illinois after being elected the 16th President.