Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park
We have finally arrived at the historical location that many people already know about, Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. I will be honest, it has been several years since we have visited the site. I have visited probably 3-4 times in my life, and I have taken my daughter twice. I took her there when she was four and then again when she was nine. It was much more memorable when she was older. She enjoyed the site and took part in the Junior Ranger program earning her badge and being “sworn in.” If you have children and you have never had them earn a badge at a national park, you should do so next time.
Now before we talk more about our visit and the memorial itself, let’s cover the history.
When we left off on Part 2, Thomas and Nancy had just left Mill Creek for Sinking Springs in 1808. Pioneers, like Thomas and the Ingalls family that I mentioned in Part 1, were fighting over land boundaries and defective titles, spending large amounts of money in court costs trying to save their land. This was due to the lack of land surveys in the new state of Kentucky, as well as much of the land had been given away in Virginia land grants that were to be honored when Kentucky County split from Virginia and became a state. Unfortunately, time and time again, our pioneers lost their money and their land in these disputes. The same happened to Thomas.
Thomas had purchased 238 acres in Mill Creek Valley in 1802, but by 1808 he was fighting for his land. Thomas lost several acres in the dispute and took a financial hit due to court costs, so he was forced to sell the land. (The farm was located near the southern boundary of present day Radcliff/Ft. Knox on Battle Training Road, approximately 2 ½ miles from Dixie Highway (31W).)
Mill Creek Valley
The Future President
In December of 1808, Thomas purchased 300 acres at Sinking Springs, and the family set off. On February 12, 1809, Thomas and Nancy welcomed their 2nd child into the world, naming him Abraham after his grandfather.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was born in a one room cabin on a farm in present day Hodgenville, KY. If that doesn’t scream the American dream, I don’t know what would.
More Land Troubles
By 1811, Thomas was in another land battle that continued until 1816. While the battle continued, the Hardin County Court ordered Thomas to leave the land. He leased 30 acres of land about ten miles away on Knob Creek, and moved his family again.
The National Park
Kentucky is home to the 1st memorial for Abraham Lincoln. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the corner stone to the monument on February 12, 1909 (Lincoln’s 100th birthday), on top of the rolling hill near the Sinking Spring, where is it believed the cabin stood. The memorial was completed in 1911 enclosing a replica cabin symbolizing Lincoln’s birth. The cabin is one room with one door and window, a fireplace, and a dirt floor. It measures 13×17 feet, but the original cabin is believed to have been a bit larger at 16×18 feet.
The memorial building was designed by architect John Russell Pope and constructed of Connecticut pink granite and Tennessee marble. The design includes a few elements of symbolism. There are 56 stairs leading to the building, one for each year of Lincoln’s life, and sixteen windows and sixteen rosettes on the interior ceiling remind us that Lincoln was the 16th president. For me, the building represents Lincoln’s legacy; strong and impressive. If you visit the site, make sure to stop at the visitor center and museum. It will give you more history of the family and location. The Lincoln Family Bible printed in 1799 is on display in the museum. Take time to walk over to the natural spring, for which the property was named, and enjoy the walk as you count the steps to the top. It really is an impressive site and well worth the visit.
And in this final picture, you will see my daughter didn’t always enjoy our adventures when she was younger! 😉
Up next, Part 4 and the final installment of The Lincoln Family Chronicles.
Until then, Happy Travels!