While driving across Kentucky I was really excited when I saw the road sign saying President Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace was the next exit. I really wanted to experience some U.S. history along our trip. Yes, Graceland is also history but it’s more culture/celebrity history not the kind you find in a history book. At least, no history book I have ever read in school.
I was determined to find Lincoln’s home. Lucky for me his birthplace and boyhood home are within ten miles of each other.
When we exited the interstate we followed the signs but it seems we were on this rural road with cornfields that kept going as far as the eye could see. The corn had already been harvested and some fields had already been cut down.
It made me think of something my dad said when watching a movie or TV show where a person was running through a cornfield. He said the leaves would “cut you up”. I’m not sure if that kernel of knowledge is true since I have never had the pleasure to run through a cornfield.
When we arrived at the National Historical Park there is a huge Memorial Building with stone columns and four sets of stairs. It houses Lincoln’s birth home. In the Visitor Center we watch a short film that was very informational.
Here are some of the interesting tidbits I learned about the 16th President.
Abraham Lincoln shares the same name with his grandfather, who was very rich. When he died he left everything to his oldest son. Abe’s father, Thomas, didn’t
get anything. After marrying Abe’s mother, Nancy Hanks, they moved to Sinking Spring Farm. It was called that because of the Spring down the hill from the cabin.
Shortly, the future president was born in a one-room log cabin. It was 18-by-16 feet with a dirt floor, one window, one door, a small fireplace and a low chimney made of clay straw and hardwood. Their home may have been small but according to the 15-minute video The National Park Service shows the Lincolns were not poor, but they weren’t rich either. Thomas was a farmer and did carpentry and cabinetmaking on the side.
The log cabin in the Memorial Building is not the original log cabin. The cabin inside is very old but The National Park Service considers it “a symbolic cabin”.
According to NPS, the original cabin was purchased by a NY businessman in 1894. “Shortly thereafter it was dismantled and reassembled for exhibition in many cities.” There is no information on what happened to the cabin after that.
The Memorial Building was built almost 100 years after the Lincolns left Sinking Spring Farm. The Lincoln Farm Association raised more than $350,000 from 100,000 American citizens to build the neoclassical structure. Each step to the Memorial represents every year President Abraham Lincoln lived.
When Abe was two-years-old the family moved ten-miles northeast to Knob Creek. This is where his first memories come from.
Lincoln did attend school at what he called a “blab school”. The school couldn’t afford writing materials so it taught using recitation. Lincoln only attended about two years’ worth of school but he loved writing and would use sticks in dirt, or his finger on a dusty window to write.
Learning about the 16th President’s beginnings during a time when a Presidential election is going on and a big-budget movie is about the hard-working man is about the come out was very illuminating.
Lincoln was underestimated time and time again but he never gave up. It seemed to spur him on to do great things and stand up for what he believed in and for Americans.