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MR. LINCOLN'S EARLY BOYHOOD IN KENTUCKY.
Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln.—Their residence in Pennsylvania and
Virginia.—His Grandfather Crosses the Alleghanies to join Boone
THE ancestors of ABRAHAM LINCOLN were of English
Berks county was not very long the home of Mr. Lincoln's immediate progenitors. There can hardly have been more than a slender picneer settlement there, when one or more of the number made another remove, not far from the year 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 situated in the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah, 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.
From this locality, about the year 1782, Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of him who was to make the name illustrious, 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 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 occupation of his rough and 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. Whatever the reazon, 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, must have suggested new attractions thitherward, to the moro active and daring spirits, whose ideal of manhood Boone so nearly approached.
From the borders, in various directions, hundreds of miles away, emigration had now begun. These recruits were from that class of hardy frontiersmen most inured to the kind of toils they were to encounter anew in the Kentucky forests. They went forward, fearless of the dangers to be encountered from the numerous bands of Indians already re-commencing hostilities, after a temporary pacification. Here was a common territory and place of meeting for the tribes, both of the North and the South, and here, before and after this date, there were many exciting adventures and deadly conflicts with these savages, whose favorite haunts had been thus unceremoniously invaded.
It was not far from the date of the disastrous battle of the Lower Blue Licks, in 1782, that the grandfather of Mr. Lincoln, with his young family, reached the region which had, perhaps, long been the promised land of his dreams. The exact place at which he settled is not known. According to the family tradition, it was somewhere on Floyd's creek, supposed to be near its mouth, in what is now Bullitt county. On the other hand, in the field-book of Daniel Boone, who was a deputy-surveyor under Col. Thomas Marshall, father of Chief Justice Marshall, is the following memorandum : " Abraham Lincoln enters 500 acres of land, on a Treasury Warrant-No. 5,994-beginning opposite Charles Yancey's upper line, on the south side of the river, running south 200 poles, then up the river for quantity, 11th December, 1782.”* Yancey's land, as appears from the same book, was on the north side of the “main” Licking Creek, as then designated.
The emigrant had made but a mere beginning in his new pioneer labors, when, while at work one day, at a distance from his cabin, unsuspecting of danger, he was killed by an Indian, who had stolen upon him unaware. His widow, thus suddenly bereaved
* Boone's field-book is now in the hands of L. C. Draper, Esq., of Madison, Wisconsin, to whom I am indebted for the copy given in the text. The "treasury warrant" was issued by the State of Virginia.