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MR. LINCOLN'S EARLY BOYHOOD IN KENTUCKY.
Preliminary Remarks.-Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln.—Their Resi
dence in Pennsylvania and Virginia.-His Grandfather Crosses the Alleghanies to join Boone and his Associates.-" The Dark and Bloody Ground." —His Violent Death. His Widow Settles in Washington County.-Thomas Lincoln, his Son, Marries and Locates near Hodgen ville. --Birth of Abraham Lincoln.—La Rue County.-His Early Life and Training in Kentucky.
The name of no living man is more prominent, at this moment, on the lips and in the thoughts of the American people, than that of ABRAHAM LINCOLN. This happens not merely because, as the candidate of a party, he has won the highest political honors. He has a hold upon the public mind which a partisan election alone can not account for. This event, indeed, is the effect rather than the cause.
An overwhelming popular enthusiasm in certain States where he is best known (and manifested also by the assembled crowds at Chicago, during the memorable week of the Convention) did much to turn the poising balance in his favor, and to determine his selection as a candidate over all his distinguished competitors.
What Robert Burns has proverbially been to the people of his native land, and, to a certain extent, of all lands, as a bard, Abraham Lincoln seems to have become to us as a statesman and a patriot, by his intimate relations alike with the humbler and the higher walks of life. By his own native energy
endowment, he has risen from a place of humble obscurity to a commanding position and power among his fellow-men, and achieved an enduring fame. The experiences of the “toiling millions," whether of gladness or of sorrow, have been his experiences. He has an identity with them, such as common toils and common emotions have produced. Thus and otherwise he has become, in person no less than in principle, a genuine representative man in the great cause of FREE LABOR.
This is not the time to enter very minutely into the details of the private life of Mr. LINCOLN. Still in the prime of his manhood, with long years of public service apparently yet before him, and with so large a proportion of those who have been associated with him now remaining on the stage of action, no multiplied and indiscriminate relations, designed merely to gratify public curiosity, should be expected in this connection. When the grand era on which, individually, he is now entering, shall have closed, let the more intimate and searching history of all that he has done, said and suffered, whether as a public or as a private citizen, be attempted by other and more ambitious hands.
It is rather the purpose of the present work to furnish the true and complete outline of a life, which, though not uneventful, or wanting in enticing suggestions to the imagination, often tempting the writer aside into romantic episodes and gossiping researches, is more immediately interesting at this time as throwing light upon the mystery we have noted at the outset, and as bearing directly upon the present state of our national politics, to which Mr. Lincoln now holds so important a relation.
The reader is here given a reliable account of the main events of a remarkable career; and should his curiosity at any stage demand more than is given, he may rest assured that nothing has been designedly omitted or glossed over, that tends to illustrate the character, or to affect the public standing of the statesman who is the subject of this memoir. Characteristic anecdotes and personal incidents currently related of him will only be noted in these pages when clearly authentic. Those of questionable authority, or ascertained to be positively fictitious, will be carefully excluded. No statement is haz
arded which is not capable of verification. A candid estimate of the man, and an accurate representation of his opinions and past acts as a statesman, have been attempted, and such as shall deserve the implicit confidence of the people, of whatever class or partizan predilection. Facts are set down without eulogistic comment, and the views of Mr. Lincoln, with such explanations as justice may seem to require, will usually be given in his own words.
The ancestors of ABRAHAM LINCOLN were of English descent. We find the earliest definite traces of them in Berks county, Pennsylvania, though this was almost certainly not the first place of their residence in this country. Their location, and their adherence to the Quaker faith, make it probable that the original emigration occurred under the auspices of Wm. PENN, or at least in company with those who sympathized and shared in his colonizing movement. It was doubtless a branch of the same family that, leaving England under different religious impulses, but with the same adventurous and independent spirit, settled, at an earlier date, in Old Plymouth Colony. The separation may possibly have taken place this side of the Atlantic, and not beyond. Some of the same traits appear conspicuously in both these family groups. One tradition indeed affirms that the Pennsylvania branch was transplanted from Hingham, Mass., and was derived from a common stock with Colonel Benjamin Lincoln, of Revolutionary fame. There is a noticeable coincidence in the general prevalence, among each American branch, of Scriptural names in christening-the Benjamin, Levi, and Ezra, of Massachusetts, having their counterpart in the Abraham, Thomas, and Josiah, of Virginia and Kentucky. The peculiarity is one to have been equally expected among sober Friends, and among zealous Puritans.
Berks county can not have been very long the home of Mr. Lincoln's immediate progenitors. There can hardly have been more than a slender pioneer settlement there, up to the time that one or more of the number made another remove, not far
from 1750, to what is now Rockingham county, Virginia. Old Berks was first settled about 1734,—then, too, as a German colony-and was not organized as a county until 1752; before which date, according to family traditions, this removal to Virginia took place.
This, it will be observed, was pre-eminently a pioneer stock, evidently much in love with backwoods adventure, and constantly courting the dangers and hardships of forest-life.
Rockingham county, Virginia, though intersected by the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah, or rather by two valleys made by its chief forks, not very far from their junction, and inviting, by its natural resources, the advances of civilization, must nevertheless have been, at the time just mentioned, in the very
heart of the wilderness. Now, it is one of the most productive counties of Virginia, having exceeded every other county in the State, according to the census of 1850, in its crops of wheat and hay. A branch of the family, it is understood, still remains there, to enjoy the benefits of so judicious a selection, and of the labors and imperfectly requited endurances of these first settlers. It was more than thirty years later than the arrival there of the Lincolns of Pennsylvania, that Rockingham county first had an organized political existence.
From this locality, about the year 1780, perhaps a little later, Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of the one who now bears that name, started westward across the Alleghanies, attracted by the accounts which had reached him of the wonderfully fertile and lovely country explored by Daniel Boone, on and near the Kentucky river. During all his lifetime, hitherto, he could have known little of any other kind of existence than that to which he had been educated as an adventurous frontiersman. The severe labor of preparing the heavily timbered lands of the Shenandoah for cultivation, the wild delights of hunting the then abundant game of the woods, and the exciting hazards of an uncertain warfare with savage enemies, had been almost the sole occupations of his rough but healthful life. Perhaps the settlements around him had already begun to be too far advanced for the highest enjoyment of his characteristic mode of living; or possibly, with others, he aspired to the possession of more fertile fields, and to an easier subsistence, with new forest-expanses more eligible for the delights of the chase. Whatever the reason, he set out at the time just stated, with his wife and several young children, on his long journey across the mountains, and over the broad valleys intervening between the Shenandoah and the Kentucky.
At this date, and for ten or twelve years later, the present State of Kentucky formed part of the old Commonwealth of Virginia. "The dark and bloody ground," as afterward named for better reasons than the fiction which assigns this meaning to its Indian appellation, had then been but recently entered upon by the white man. Its first explorer, Daniel Boone, whose very name suggests a whole world of romance and adventure, had removed, when a mere boy, among the earlier emigrants from Eastern Pennsylvania, to Berks county. Here he must have been a contemporary resident, and was perhaps an acquaintance, of some of the younger members of the Lincoln family. At all events, as substantially one of their own neighbors, they must have watched his later course with eager interest and sympathy, and caught inspiration from his exploits. At eighteen, Boone had again emigrated, with his father as before, to the banks of the Yadkin, a mountain river in the north-west of North Carolina, at just about the same date as the removal of the Lincolns to Virginia. Some years later, Boone, in his hunting excursions, had passed over and admired large tracts of the wilderness north of his home, and especially along a branch of the Cumberland river, within the limits of what is now Kentucky. It was not until 1769, however, that, with five associates, he made the thorough exploration of the Kentucky valley, which resulted in the subsequent settlements there. The glowing descriptions which ultimately got abroad of the incredible richness and beauty of these new and remote forest-climes of Trans-Alleghanian Virginia, and of their alluring hunting-grounds, must have early reached the ears of the boyhood-companions of Daniel Boone, and spread through the neighboring country. The stirring adventures of the pioneer hero, during the next five or six years, and the beginnings of substantial settlements in that far-west country,