Having grown bored of staying in the Suite Pea to avoid the stifling heat, we venture out for a little sightseeing. I learn from the campground owner that we aren’t very far away from President Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. Being a person that we both revere deeply, we go to pay homage to this great man. In December 1808, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln bought 300 acre Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin County, Kentucky. The couple with their daughter, one year old Sarah, move from Elizabethtown to the one room cabin built upon the knoll at Sinking Spring Farm. The 18 by 16 foot cabin is typical of the frontier dwellings in the area. It has a dirt floor, a small fireplace, one window and one door. Mrs. Lincoln is pregnant at the time of the move with the couple’s second child. On February 12, 1809 a son is born. He is given his paternal grandfather’s name, Abraham. Thomas, Nancy and their little family continue living on the farm until an unfavorable ruling on a land title dispute causes the family to leave. Abraham is two years old at the time. Thomas Lincoln leases a farm on Knob Creek, 10 miles away. Abe’s earliest childhood memories are of this farm. Here he learns to fell and chop trees, hunt, and plant crops alongside his father. It is here that his views on slavery also begin to form. In his youth, Abe’s father Thomas had labored alongside slaves which may have been the basis for his anti slavery stance. Thomas and Nancy are members of Little Mount Baptist, an anti slavery church. Abe’s teacher, Caleb Hazel at the Athertonville school is also against slave ownership. It’s possible he may have expressed his opinion to his pupils. These viewpoints may have influenced young Abe. In all probability Abe may have witnessed cruelty to slaves being hauled to market upon the Old Cumberland Trail that runs directly in front of the Knob Creek cabin. The trail (US Hwy. 31E) was a main route between Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee, It was one of the overland routes slave traders used for transportation. At seven years of age, Abe and his family leave Kentucky for Spencer County, Indiana in part because of their anti slavery views.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN BIRTHPLACE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK In 1905 Robert Collier, the publisher of Collier’s Weekly, purchases Sinking Spring Farm. Mr. Collier along with Mark Twain, William Jennings Bryan, Samuel Gompers and others form the Lincoln Farm Association to preserve Lincoln’s birthplace and to establish a memorial to our 16th president. The group raises funds to erect a memorial to house the cabin believed to be Lincoln’s birthplace. Over $350,000 are raised and the building of the structure begins in 1909 with President Teddy Roosevelt’s laying of the cornerstone at the exact location where the cabin once stood. Two years later, President William Howard Taft dedicates the memorial structure.
40 years later it is discovered that the cabin enshrined within the memorial building is not the original birthplace cabin. The National Park Service proclaims it to be a symbolic one, being from the area, the same time period and of the same style build. The original may have become misplaced or too badly damaged from the constant assembling and dismantling of it while touring the country. Visitor Cntr. depiction of period cabin interior
LINCOLN BOYHOOD HOME AT KNOB CREEK In 1928 Chester and Hattie Howard, seeking to memorialize Lincoln while generating a tourism income for themselves, purchase the Knob Creek Farm once leased by Thomas Lincoln. In 1931 they move logs from the cabin of Austin Gollaher, a childhood friend of Abe’s, to erect at the Knob Creek location. Then they constructed a tavern adjacent to the cabin to supply entertainment, food and gas to travelers. The farm becomes a successful tourist attraction for the couple. Wanting to do more to preserve the history of Lincoln’s boyhood farm, the couple petition to have the site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eventually the property comes under the jurisdiction of our National Park Service.
It is interesting to note that local lore attributes young Austin Gollaher with saving Abe from drowning in a (then) turbulent Knob Creek by extending a tree limb to him and pulling him to safety.