Learning Lincoln On-line

Topic "Travel the Lincoln Heritage Trail":  1.  Abraham Lincoln’s Journey in Life Begins: Sinking Spring and Knob Creek Farms, Kentucky


. . . Abraham Lincoln's Journey in Life Begins


"...he'll never come to much, fur I'll tell you he wuz the puniest, cryin'est little youngster I ever saw."   Said by Dennis Hanks, a first cousin of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, on the day Abraham Lincoln was born.
{Source: p. 726 of Herndon's Informants edited by Douglas L.Wilson and Rodney O. Davis (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1998)}

1809--   On the stormy morning of Sunday, February 12, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, wife of Thomas , gave birth to a boy.  He was born on a bed of poles covered with corn husks. The baby was named Abraham after his grandfather. The birth took place in the Lincolns' rough-hewn cabin on Nolin Creek near Hodgenville, Kentucky. Thomas Lincoln was an uneducated carpenter and a farmer. Nancy Lincoln had little or no schooling and could not write.


Picture of what could have been the original cabin, now located in the memorial "Greek Temple" structure near Hodgenville, Ky.


The Cabin, as it was


Nancy Hanks, mother of Abraham Lincoln


(Painting of Nancy Hanks by Lloyd Ostendorf, in the National Birthplace Memorial site)


"Sinking Spring" is the only actual remnant left of the original farm.


Photos by Howard Taylor during a family visit, Summer, 2001

        In 1811 the Lincolns moved to a farm on Knob Creek which was also near Hodgenville. In 1811 or 1812 (possibly as late as 1815) Abraham's younger brother, Thomas, died in infancy.


Lincoln's Knob Creek Farm also near Hodgenville, Ky.  This is a state historical site.


    Abraham spent a short amount of time in a log schoolhouse. He began to learn his ABC's from a teacher named Zachariah Riney. He attended school with his sister, Sarah. Sarah had dark hair and gray eyes, and she was two years older than Abraham. Abraham attended school dressed in a raccoon cap, buckskin clothes, and pants so short that several inches of his calves were exposed. At home young Abraham heard the scriptures read from the family Bible.   "Born into grinding poverty, the young Lincoln helped to break a pioneer farm but had little formal education. During his first seven years in the wilds of Kentucky, he learned how to spell his name and a little arithmetic."

    Young Lincoln was saved from drowning by playmate Austin Gollaher. Abraham and Sarah briefly attended school taught by Caleb Hazel, a neighbor. Late in the year the Lincoln family moved to southern Indiana and settled near present-day Gentryville. A cabin was constructed near Little Pigeon Creek. It measured 16 X 18 feet, and it had one window (See Photos of replica above)

Lincoln's Playmate historical site.  Austin Gollaher is buried
here, that once saved Abraham's life.



Historical Marker and Gravestone for Austin Gollaher, Young Abraham's Friend 


    The Lincoln family would move from Kentucky to Indiana for a variety of reasons.  The two biggest reasons were the encroachment of slavery, but most of all the problems with protecting their land from faulty titles and disputes.  In December of 1816, the Lincolns left Kentucky.  Thomas would return to find a new wife and mother for his children in later years.

    Abraham, in his autobiography spoke of his Kentucky years as, "I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County Kentucky.  My parents were born in Virginia of undistinguished families--second families, perhaps I should say.  My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name Hanks."   ". . . My earliest recollection . . . is of the Knob Creek Place."


Go to Lincoln City, Indiana Site for Lincoln's Boyhood Memorial

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