Page images




[ocr errors]

HIS BIRTH AND ANCESTORS. ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the sixteenth President of the United States, and the skilful ruler under whose wise administration the country in its hour of peril has been enabled to combat successfully with the traitors who have attempted its destruction, was born on the twelfth of February, 1809, in that part of Hardin county, Kentucky, which is now known as Larue. His father, Thomas Lincoln, and his grandfather, Abraham, were born in Rockingham county, Virginia, a section of the “Old Dominion” to which their ancestors had migrated from Berks county, Pennsylvania. In the year 1780, the grandfather removed bis family to Kentucky, where, taking possession of a small tract of land in the wilderness, he erected a rude cabin, and proceeded to make his new home comfortablo and productive. His daily labors were attended in their prosecution with great personal danger. There was no other resident within two or three miles, and the country was infested with Indians, who allowed no opportunity to pass to slaughter the white settlers. His gun was carried


as regularly to his work as was his axe or any other implement necessary to the successful clearing of the land, and at night when he retired to the bosom of his little flock, the faithful weapon was placed in a convenient cor ner, where it could be quickly grasped in the event of an attack from the wily enemy.

Individuals and whole families living in the vicinity were murdered by the Indians, but Abraham Lincoln for four years escaped their bloodthirsty characteristics; but at the end of that period, while clearing a piece of land about four miles from home, he was suddenly attacked, and killed, and his scalped remains were found the next morning. The loss was a severe one to the widow, who now found herself alone in the wilderness with her three sons and two daughters, and with but little money with which to provide even the necessities of life for the young members of her household. Poverty made it necessary that the family should separate; and all the children but Thomas bade adieu to their remaining parent, and left the county, the second son removing to Indiana, and the others to other sections of Kentucky.

DESCRIPTION OF HIS PARENTS. Thomas also left home before he was twelve years old, but subsequently returned to Kentucky, and in the year 1806, married Miss Nancy Hanks, who was also a native of Virginia; so that it will be observed nearly all of the immediate ancestors of the President were born upon Southern soil. Thomas Lincoln and his wife were a plain, abassuming couple, conscientious members of the Baptist Church, and almost entirely uneducated. Mrs. Lincoln could read, but not write, wbile her husband could do neither, save so far as to scribble his own name in a style of caligraphy which a few of his more intimate friends could decipher. He, however, appreciated the advantages of education, and honored and respected the superior learning of others. His kindness of heart was proverbial, and he was always industrious and persevering. His wife, although uneducated, was blessed with much natural talent, excellent judgment, and good sense, and these qualifications, with her great piety, made her a suitable partner for a man of Thomas Lincoln's attributes, and a mother whose precepts and teachings could not fail to be of vast benefit in the formation of her children's characters. This estimable couple bad three children—a daughter, a son who had died in infancy, and Abraham. The sister attained the years of womanhood, and married, but subsequently died without issue.

ABE” GOES TO SCHOOL. When Abraham, or “Abe," as he was already called at home and by his companions, was seven years of age, his name was entered for the first time on the roll of an educational institution—an academy which had but little pretension in outward appearance, and the presiding genius of which had neither ambition nor ability to impart greater instruction than that which would enable his pupils to read and write. His term of schooling was, however, to be of short duration.


Mr. Lincoln, although a Southerner by birth and resi. dence, had become early imbued with a disgust for slavery. He witnessed the evils of the "peculiar institution," and longed to be free from the disagreeable effects of a condition of society which made a poor white man even more degraded than the unfortunate negro, whose energies and labors were controlled by an unprincipled and lazy master. With these sentiments he naturally desired to change his place of residence, and early in October, 1816, finding a purchaser for his farm, he made arrangements for the transfer of the property and for his removal. The price paid by the purchaser was ten barrels of wbiskey, of forty gallons each, valued at two hundred and eigbty dollars, and twenty dollars in money. Mr. Lincoln was a temperate man, and acceded to the terms, not because he desired the liquor, but because such transactions in real estate were common, and recognized as perfectly proper.

The homestead was within a mile or two of the Rolling Fork river, and as soon as the sale was effected, Mr. Lincoln, with such slight assistance as little Abe could give him, hewed out a flat-boat, and launching it, filled it with his household articles and tools and the barrels of whiskey, and bidding adieu to his son who stood upon the bank, pushed off, and was soon floating down the stream on his way to Indiana, to select a new home. His journey down the Rolling Fork and into the Ohio river was successfully accomplished, but soon afterwards his boat was unfortunately upset, and its cargo thrown into the water. Some men standing on the bank witnessed the aecident and saved the boat and its owner, but all the contents of the craft were lost except a few carpenter's tools, axes, three barrels of whiskey and some other articles. He again started, and proceeded to a well-known ferry on the river, from whence he was guided into the interior by a resident of the section of country in which he had landed, and to whom he had given his boat in payment for his services. After several days of difficult travelling, much of the time employed in cutting a road through the forest wide enough for a team, eighteen miles were accomplished, and Spencer county, Indiana, was reached. The site for bis new home baving been determined upon, Mr. Lincoln left his goods under the care of a person who lived a few miles distant, and returning to Kentucky on foot, made preparations to remove his family. In a few days the party bade farewell

« PreviousContinue »