County, Ind., homestead
was home to Lincoln for 14 years
sister, mother are buried in southern Indiana towns
(February 2008) Most schoolchildren and history
buffs know that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States,
was born in Kentucky and spent his adult life in Illinois practicing
Boyhood National Memorial
preserves the site of the
homestead where Lincoln lived
during his childhood.
People are genuinely surprised, however, to find out that
Lincoln spent 14 years of his life on a pioneer farmstead in what is
now Spencer County, Ind.
In 1816, when Lincoln was 7 years old, his father, Thomas Lincoln, packed
up the family and headed to Spencer County. It was there on his familys
farm that Lincoln acquired his love of reading and would read by the
fire at night when his chores were done. It is also the place where
his beloved mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and sister, Sarah Lincoln Grigsby,
are buried. Lincoln left Spencer County in 1830 and headed west to Illinois.
Spencer County is definitely the place to come if people want
to trace Abraham Lincolns past, said Melissa Miller, executive
director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau. You can walk where
Lincoln walked and almost feel his spirit.
The years he spent in Spencer County are often referred to by locals
in the area as the forgotten Lincoln years, she said. When
people are famous, most of the time the place where they are born and
where they gained their prominence are more widely remembered; the middle
years are often discounted.
Several attractions in Spencer County have been established as memorials
to the Lincoln family. The Lincoln State Park, the Lincoln Pioneer Village
and the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial are just a few of the attractions
that visitors to the area can explore. During the Lincoln Bicentennial
Celebration, which will kick off for many states in February 2008 and
continue throughout 2009, numerous events have been planned. The bicentennial
commemorates the 200th anniversary of Lincolns birth.
Spencer County is also home to Santa Claus, Ind., where the theme park
Holiday World and Splashin Safari attracts more than 1 million
visitors each year.
Lincoln Park, in Lincoln City, Ind., is a scenic, 1,747-acre park established
in 1932 as a memorial to Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Camping, fishing, boating,
hiking and picnicking are just a few of the activities available.
Visitors can spend the day on Lincoln Lake or walk through Sarah Lincoln
Woods Nature Preserve while at the state park. Lincoln State Park is
also home to Lincoln Amphitheatre, which plays host to a series of outdoor
musical dramas during the summer months.
Lincoln left Indiana in
1830 and headed west for Illinois.
The Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association has been commissioned
to create a play for the 2009 bicentennial to perform at the amphitheater
Sarah Lincoln Grigsby is buried in Old Pigeon Cemetery in the park.
She died in childbirth in 1828. The cemetery is next to the Little Pigeon
Primitive Baptist Church. Lincoln and his father helped build the first
log cabin church on this site.
Adjacent to Lincoln State Park is the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.
This 200-acre national park was established in 1962 to preserve the
site of the farm where Abe spent those 14 years of his life. More than
150,000 visitors from all over the world come each year to the national
park, which was signed into the National Parks Service by President
John F. Kennedy.
A visitors center, museum and living history farm offer insight
into the Lincolns life as pioneers in Indiana.
This is a wonderful educational and recreational opportunity for
the entire family, said park guide Samantha Escobar. This
is where the famous story of Lincoln walking two miles to return a borrowed
book actually took place.
During warm months, rangers dress in period clothing at the Lincoln
Living Historical Farm in the park and perform a wide variety of farming
tasks that were typical during the 1820s. Visitors can see how
pioneers actually lived and worked, said Escobar. The farm is
a working pioneer homestead with a cabin, outbuildings, split rail fences,
animals, gardens and field crops.
is buried in Old
The Memorial Visitor Center in the park features two memorial
halls, a museum with a variety of exhibits and a 15-minute orientation
film. Books, postcards and other educational materials can be purchased
in the bookstore. Community groups can hold meetings around the
cherry wood table in the Nancy Hanks Lincoln room, said Escobar.
Visitors are also encouraged to take a walk up the wooded Lincoln Boyhood
Trail in the park to the gravesite of Lincolns mother, Nancy Hanks
Lincoln. In 1818, Nancy died of milk sickness. Milk sickness was an
illness gotten from drinking the milk of cows that ate the poisonous
At the Lincoln Pioneer Village and Museum, in Rockport City, Ind., hundreds
of fascinating artifacts from the areas historic past can be seen.
One of those artifacts includes a hutch made by Thomas Lincoln. A village
consisting of log cabins that are replicas of the Lincoln era in Spencer
County can be seen by appointment.
The Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration will kick off in Spencer County
on Mothers Day, May 11, 2008. Events will include music, drama,
outdoor ceremonies and prominent speakers, said Miller.
Other events throughout the year will include a Civil War Era ball and
a Lincoln era Thanksgiving. Lincoln was the president that established
Thanksgiving as a national holiday. A flatboat trip in September 2008
down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Louisiana is scheduled to commemorate
a famous flatboat trip Lincoln made.
For more information about the Lincoln Bicentennial
Celebration and Spencer County, Ind., visit: www.legendaryplaces.org.
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