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ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

CHAPTER I.

PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD.

BRAHAM LINCOLN was born on

Nolin Creek, in Hardin County, Ken

tucky, on the 12th of February, 1809. Before that time, the savage tribes had been defeated and driven from his native State, but they yet lingered in broken and straggling bands in the adjacent territory, north and south, and reigned in their original power a few leagues westward. The whole country west of the Kanawha was, as yet, a wilderness, almost undisturbed. The great forests covered the solitary hills and valleys. The deer and bears had not yet forsaken their ancient haunts. The dashing

saw-mills had not riven to planks the giant oaks and poplars. No busy grist-mills, driven by the tumbling waterfall, prepared the settler's corn. The swift locomotive, with its shrill shriek, was a thing as unknown to little Abe as it was to Abraham of old, sitting by his tent on the field of Mamre. Some shreds or antiquated garments of silk or broadcloth may have descended from the past as family mementoes, but otherwise they were unknown. The free school and the Sabbath school, with their precious privileges and delightful surroundings, were in reserve for the children of a later day. “Home” was a word as sweet to the heart then as now, but little Abe's home and those of his neighbors were not such as the most of children now enjoy. Little cabins of rough logs and clay, covered with clapboards, floored with puncheons, beds often of leaves, a fire-place nearly as wide and deep as a bed is long and broad-such was “home, and yet little Abe's father and mother devoutly thanked God for the protection and comfort it afforded them; and well they should, for even such a home was a great blessing.

Their fare consisted of corn-bread, milk, and such luxuries as the garden, field, and woods

PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD.

9

afforded them. It was abundant-often luxurious. The wild plum, blackberry, raspberry, fox-grape and other fruits grew in rich profusion; while squirrels, venison, and fat turkeys were to be had by the sharp-shooting pioneers, for the taking. The maple gave freely the most delicious sweet that nature anywhere affords. The gold of a king could purchase nothing nicer than the sugar fresh and warm from the kettle. And then how pleasant it was to sit in a cozy camp before the roaring furnace, gaze at the stars through the swaying branches above, listen to the music of the dripping “spiles,” and dream of the future, as many a ragged backwoods boy has done. Hickory-nuts rattled down in plenty on the yellow leaves—little Abe probably knew all the best trees for a mile around

and many were the pleasant winter nights spent till bedtime around the great "fire-place" cracking them and telling Indian and bear stories while the icy winds were tossing the snow drifts without.

Little is known of his ancestry, and that little does not extend far back into the past. His grandfather came to Kentucky, from Virginia, in 1780, or eleven years after the famous pioneer, Daniel Boone, first established his cabin on Ken. tucky soil. He brought a large family of little children to brave the dangers and privations of pioneer life, but he lived only four years to afford them protection and support. While working in the woods one day a skulking savage stole upon him and shot him dead. We may imagine the terror and distress which fell upon the wife and little ones at this dreadful calamity; and yet it was not the helpless despair which would have seized upon a family of our times could they have been placed in similar circumstances. Such occurrences were not then uncommon. Pioneer's wives were brave spirited and adequate to such emergencies. Not long before this occurrence, and in the same county, lived a settler and his family named Davis. The husband was absent from home one day, and his wife, with the sharp scrutiny, which exposure to danger had given, observed an Indian peering from behind the door of the stable, about ten rods distant from the cabin. She well knew his hostile intent, but did not scream, or faint, or do any such like absurd thing. Walking carelessly into her cabin, she took down her husband's rifle, crept into the loft, carefully placed the muzzle in a crevice between the logs, aimed long and well, and fired. With a

THE CHRISTIAN MOTHER.

11

yell of rage and pain the savage broke from his covert and fled to the woods, his speed hastened by a defiant cheer from the undaunted woman. Many such instances of hardihood and bravery, and not a few of high moral heroism might be given of the pioneer women of those early times.

The part of the country where the grandfather Lincoln was killed is not known. The widow gathered up her children and removed to Washington County, then more thickly settled—if such an expression may be used in reference to an exceedingly sparce population—and there reared, as best she could, the little ones cast wholly upon

The father of Abraham Lincoln grew up an ignorant, wandering boy. He could not so much as read, but was respected as a man of inflexible honesty and generous nature, and beloved for his amiability and kindness. Abraham's mother came from Virginia. She was a woman of elevated Christian character, posessing sound judgment and strong common sense. With these traits in an eminent degree, she was humble, tender, and loving. What a precious mother was that for a little boy! How sweet her memory. Mr. Lincoln always looked back to her, amid the storms of political strife and furious

her care.

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