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Pigeon Creek. The appointment was made. From far and near the settlers gathered round the newly-made grave. The hymn was sung, the sermon preached, the prayer offered. So the departed mother was committed to God's keeping.
NOTES TO CHAPTER II.
(') In several of the biographies of Abraham Lincolu it is stated that the land selected ou Nolin's Creek by Thomas Lincolu was worthless.
“ The ground had nothing attractive about it but its cheapness. It was hardly more grateful than the rocky hill-sides of New England. It required full as earnest and intelligent industry to persuade a living out of those barren hillocks and weedy hollows, covered with stunted and scrubby underbrush, as it would amid the sands on the Northern coast."—Nicolay and Hay, vol. i.
“The land be occnpied was sterile and broken-a mere barren glade, and destitute of timber. It required a persistent effort to coax a living out of it, and to one of his easygoing disposition life was a never-ending struggle.”—Herudon, vol. i., p. 18.
Having visited the spot where Abraham Lincolu was born, the farm on Nolin's Creek, and also the farm on Knob Creek, I do not coincide with these estimates of the quality of the land. That on Nolin's Creek is a fair representative section of the land in the inmediate region. It was under cultivation (1890), yielding an average crop. The farm on Kuob Creek, while embracing a rocky hill, bas many acres which are very fertile. It would seem that his selections of land canuot with justice be cited as evideuce of inefficiency or want of judgment.--Author.
(?) Austin Gollaher, schoolmate of Abraham Lincoln, to Anthor.
LIFE IN INDIANA.
HE unfinished cabin of Thomas Lincoln was a cheerless home. He THE
had not found time to hew “puncheons” for a floor, saw boards for a door, make a sash for the window, or plaster the crevices between
the timbers to exclude the driving rain or drifting snow. (')
Sarah Lincoln, twelve years old, baked the corn-bread, fried the bacon, and did what she could to make the cabin cheerful; but no fire, be it ever so bright, during the winter days and nights could dissipate the cheerlessness of such a home. In the evening the shadows of the father, Sarah, Abraham, and that of Dennis Hanks danced on the walls in the flickering light, but the mother's was not there. The nearest neighbors were so far away that voices other than their own seldom broke the silence.
It is not strange that Abraham Lincoln became grave and thoughtful, or that a sadness like that seen in the countenance of his mother appeared on his face at times. Dennis Hanks found pleasure in treeing raccoons, but Abraham did not care much for 'coon hunting. Most of the boys in Pigeon Creek delighted to trap wild turkeys or bring down a deer with the rifle. Abraham once shot a turkey with his father's gun by firing through the crevice between the timbers, for he did not like to see any animal put to death. He was growing rapidly, and was so strong that he could throw an iron bar farther than any other boy in Pigeon Creek.
It was a delightful book that came to his hands—“ Æsop's Fables ;"? also an arithmetic. Where he obtained them we do not know. For want of a slate and pencil he used a wooden shovel and a charred stick. When the shovel was covered with figures he wiped them off and began again. (0)
Sarah and Abraham were outgrowing their clothing. They needed some one to care for them. A year had gone since the death of their mother. Their father was silent and thoughtful. Suddenly he left
home. He did not say whither he was going; possibly he had some misgivings as to the outcome of his journey, and thought it wise to say
nothing. He reached Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where he had 1820.
learned to be a carpenter. He called upon Sarah Bush Johnston, a widow with three children-John, Sarah, and Matilda. Mrs. Johnston had been his playmate in his boyhood. When he became a young man he asked her to marry him; but she had accepted Mr. Johnston instead. It was evening when Mr. Lincoln entered her home.
“Do you remember me, Mrs. Johnston ?
“Oh yes; you are Tommy Lincoln. It is long since you moved from Elizabethtown
SITE OF THOMAS LINCOLN'S INDIANA HOME. fourteen years or more."
“ Yes; but I have come, Mrs. Johnston, to see if you will be my wife. You and I are old friends. My children need a mother, and I would like to have you go home with me.”
It was an unexpected request.
“Why, Mr. Lincoln! I could not go at once. I am owing some debts, and I could not go till they are paid."
Such in substance was the conversation, according to the story that has come to us. Mr. Lincoln found she owed about $12, and he called upon the creditors and paid them. In the morning a marriage-license was obtained, and they became husband and wife during the day. (')
Ralph Krume, who married Mr. Lincoln's sister, kindly offered to take the whole family to Indiana in his four-horse wagon. They reached the Ohio River, were ferried across in a flat-boat, and then made their way through the woods to Pigeon Creek. Just what Sarah and Abraham Lincoln thought when they saw a wagon drawn by four horses, in which was a new mother, a new brother, and two new sisters, a bureau, feather - beds, and chairs, we do not know; neither do we know the thoughts that flashed through the mind of Sarah Bush Lincoln as she entered the uncompleted cabin, and beheld her newly-acquired daughter and son, their clothes worn to tatters. But her coming brought about a new order of things. A door was hung, a floor laid, a window provided, and neatness and order established.
With eight in the family-three romping girls and three rollicking boys, for Dennis Hanks was there—the cabin was no longer a place of gloom, but a home ringing with merry voices. It was Abraham who told funny stories and asked puzzling questions.
The time had come for Pigeon Creek to have a school - house. The settlers felled the trees, cut the trunks into suitable lengths, notched
the logs, and rolled them into place. Having no glass, thin strips
of wood were fastened across the opening left for a window, on which greased paper was pasted. Azel Dorsey was employed as teacher. Reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic were taught. The ambition of the boys of Pigeon Creek was not to stand at the head of the class, but to be champions in wrestling, throw a weight farthest, and, in a fight, strike the hardest blow.
Abraham Lincoln was ready to try his strength with them in wrestling, and if any fun was going on he could do his part in making things lively. He began no quarrel, but allowed no one to pick upon him. Somehow, if there was any dispute, the other boys appealed to him to say what was right and fair.
There is humor in the lines which he wrote in his arithmetic:
His hand and pen ;
But God knows when." (*)
After a few weeks with Dorsey, two years went by before the settlers felt able to employ another teacher. Abraham Lincoln, the while, was
reading Defoe’s “ Robinson Crusoe,” Bunyan's “Pilgrim's Prog.
ress," and Weems' “ Life of Washington." (0) He borrowed the last-named book of Josiah Crawford, and unfortunately laid it where the rain wet the leaves. Mr. Crawford charged him 75 cents for the damage done the volume. Having no money, he paid the bill by working three days in Crawford's cornfield. He was growing strong enough to swing an axe, and help clear the land and hoe corn. His father wanted him to be a carpenter, and was teaching him to use the saw and chisel.