Knob Creek, Lincoln’s Boyhood Home
Welcome to Part 4 (and the final part) of The Lincoln Family Chronicles. When we left off on Part 3, Thomas had begun a land dispute (again) and had been kicked off the land at Sinking Springs in 1811. He leased 30 acres of land along Knob Creek just 10 miles from the land he was fighting to keep.
Land Battles Continue
Thomas and Nancy picked up their family and moved again to the new piece of land just along the banks of Knob Creek. Sarah was now 4 years old, and Abraham was only 2. Thomas worked the land for the next 5 years while continuing to fight for his land at Sinking Springs.
President Lincoln’s Childhood
According to the National Park Services’s “Boyhood Home at Knob Creek” web page, this farm would be the one that Abraham would remember.
“Here he learned to talk and soon grew big enough to run errands, such as carrying water and gathering wood for the fires. Abraham recalled in later years numerous memories of his childhood here; a stone house he had passed while taking corn to Hodgen’s Mill; a certain big tree that had attracted his boyish fancy; the old homestead; the clear stream where he fished, and the surrounding hills where he picked berries were all impressed on his mind.”-https://www.nps.gov/abli/planyourvisit/boyhood-home.htm
Abraham would also remember seeing enslaved African-Americans being taken south along the Louisville-Nashville Turnpike, which ran near the family cabin. It is likely that this event began his aversion to slavery and unpaid labor.
The Loss of a Child
Also while on Knob Creek, Thomas and Nancy would welcome and say goodbye to their third child, a son, named Thomas Jr. “Tommy” after his father. It is believed that Tommy lived only three days after becoming ill. Because Thomas was leasing the land, he and Nancy were unable to bury their infant son on the land. Instead, Thomas Jr. was buried “in the Redmon Cemetery on a nearby hill overlooking the Lincoln’s Knob Creek Farm.” (https://www.nps.gov/abli/learn/historyculture/thomas-lincoln-junior.htm)
Loss of the Land
In August of 1816, Thomas lost his land battle for Sinking Springs. A dispute over the ownership of Knob Creek erupted as well, so Thomas was soon served a notice of eviction for the 30 acres he was leasing.
In December 1816, Thomas and Nancy once again loaded up their family and moved on down the road. This time, the Lincoln family moved to Perry County, Indiana (now part of Spencer County) where Thomas purchased land directly from the federal government.
We visited Knob Creek when my daughter was four, after visiting Lincoln’s Birthplace. These two stops are easily done in one day. While I was unable to find the photos from that visit, I remember us having a picnic lunch on the property, as well as walking down and along the bank of the creek. As I stated in Part 2, Mordecai’s home is the ONLY original Lincoln home in Kentucky, so the cabin at Abraham’s boyhood home is not the original. The cabin, in fact, is the boyhood home of Abraham’s friend, Austin Gollaher.
Also on the property is The Knob Creek Tavern, a log building built in 1933. It was built to cash in on the tourism boom that occurred during that time, as people traveled to see places connected to Lincoln. It functioned as a dance hall serving alcohol until LaRue County became “dry” in 1942. At that time, it was converted into a museum and gift shop. The building continued as that until 1998 when the building was closed.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else to see, other than a few history plaques. The area was beautiful and some of the property could be walked and explored, but that was really all there was there.
Both Knob Creek and Lincoln’s Birthplace are under the same NPS website. While researching for this post, I visited the site and learned that Knob Creek is currently closed to visitors. There is a “rehabilitation project” taking place at the Knob Creek Tavern, which I suspect means there is construction happening.
Honestly, you aren’t missing much at this site. For me, it really was about being where our 16th President had been, and for some that will be enough to make you want to go. If you are the person who wants to “see” something, there really isn’t anything there.
I promote my site as “The history of the best places to visit!” While I don’t feel Knob Creek is one of those “best places,” my mission is also history education and preservation. Therefore, I decided that Knob Creek should be included in my chronicles. It was an important place in the life of our 16th President. One will never know how things would have been different if he hadn’t been standing along the turnpike to see the enslaved taken away. It is the very small events that can be pivotal in history. So, while there isn’t much to see, there is much to be learned and Knob Creek should not be forgotten. The land and the history should be preserved. Therefore, I conclude “The Lincoln Family Chronicles” with Knob Creek. Sometimes, it’s not about what we can see, but instead it’s about what we can learn, and what we can do to preserve places for future generations. The Legacy of our 16th President should not be forgotten.
I hope you have enjoyed my 4 part series on the Lincoln’s and their influence on Kentucky. The Lincoln legacy does not stop here. Lincoln’s Boyhood National Memorial is just a few hours away near Santa Claus, Indiana and can be visited. This site was where Thomas and Nancy moved after leaving Kentucky. (Yes, we’ve been there too!) Abraham lived on this property until 1830, and it is where Abraham lost his mother to milk sickness. It too is well worth a visit.
Please join me in the upcoming weeks for more blog posts. We are hitting the road this week and next week to new places, with new history to learn, and new memories to share. We are also transitioning our site and will have some exciting announcements soon. So, please stay tuned. In the meantime, get out there, enjoy some amazing places, and make some memories of your own!
Until next time, Happy Travels!