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Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

2916 E. South Street
PO Box 1816
Lincoln City, IN 47552
(812) 937-4541

Welcome to Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is a United States Presidential Memorial that preserves the farm site where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1816 to 1830. During that time, he grew from a 7-year-old boy to a 21-year-old man. His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, is buried here in the Pioneer Cemetery and his sister in the nearby Little Pigeon Baptist Church cemetery. 

Included in the park is a visitor center, where visitors can view a 15-minute orientation film about Lincoln's time in Indiana, as well as visit the museum and memorial halls in the center. The park also features the Lincoln Living Historical Farm.

Memorial building

The centerpiece of the memorial is an one-story limestone ash memorial building completed in 1944 that features five sculpted murals of the different phases of Lincoln's life, in spite of the shortages caused by World War II. 

The building can be accessed after paying an entrance fee. Within the building is a small cinema where a short film about the Lincoln's life in Indiana can be viewed. A museum featuring several exhibits about Lincoln are located in a adjoining hall. 

The building also contains a sizable private gallery of Lincoln related artwork, including numerous portraits and lithographs of Lincoln and his family. 

The park also owns an original oil painting of Abraham's mother, Nancy Lincoln. The building also contains a chapel and meeting hall were weddings and meetings are regularly held.

Historical farm

A short walk from the Memorial building is the site of the Lincoln cabin where the sandstone foundation of the building still remains, preserved by the park and surrounded by a barricade to prevent physical access to the structure. 

It was discovered through professional archeological investigation. A short distance from the original cabin site is a replica farm house. Rangers work the 1820s style farm in full period clothing, and visitors can engage with the rangers about the many activities and items at the farm. 

The Living Historical Farm is only open from mid-spring to early fall and contains home grown crops, livestock, and various other farm implements.

Lincoln in Indiana

Abraham's father Thomas Lincoln, had lost two previous homes in Kentucky, one at the Sinking Springs farm where Lincoln was born. Thomas Lincoln was also tired of competing with farmers that owned slaves and because Kentucky did not have proper land surveys, many residents were forced off their farms after surveys were completed. 

The Lincolns were one such family and in 1815 Thomas traveled to Indiana to locate a new homestead for his family. The next year Thomas took a two week trip to move the family to Spencer County, Indiana, the same year that Indiana attained statehood, and settled near Pigeon Creek settlement. Thomas was a talented carpenter and owned far better carpentry tools than the average settler. 

He was able to build cabins in as little as four days, and was able to have their new home built before the winter began. The next year was spent building up the homestead, clearing land to plow, and planting crops. 

In October of 1818, the milk sickness, caused by the cows eating the white snakeweed plants, struck the community. People who drank the milk of the cows became deathly ill, including Abraham's mother, Nancy. 

She succumbed to the sickness and died a week later. She was buried in a gravesite behind the family cabin. It was not until the following spring that a minister arrived to conduct a funeral service.

Abraham was very saddened by his mother's death, but was kept busy on his farm. His father soon remarried to the widow Sarah Johnson, who had three children, all of whom moved in with the Lincoln family. Abraham shared the cabin's loft with his two step-brothers for the rest of time in Indiana. 

Early on, the Lincoln family joined the nearby Little Pigeon Baptist Church where Thomas served as a trustee and Abraham briefly as a sextant. The church is still preserved in the Lincoln State Park. In November of 1819 the area's first school was opened by Andrew Crawford, and Abraham attended a school for the first time at a cost of two dollars per year. 

The school was near his home and Abraham attended it for two three-month school years during the winter months. In 1822 his parents enrolled him in a new school taught by James Swaney. Because the new school was over 4 miles away and Abraham had to walk to school, his attendance was poor. 

In 1824 he was again moved to another school near his church and nearer his home which he attended until age 16, ending his formal schooling. In January 1826, Abraham's only sister, Sarah, died in childbirth and was buried in Little Pigeon Baptist Church cemetery.

As he grew into adulthood, Abraham began taking jobs outside of his home, often working for twenty-five cents a day clearing land, plowing fields, and building fences.

When he was not working, he spent a great deal of time at the James Gentry General Store and the two nearby grain mills in the small town telling stories. He also spent considerable time reading and borrowed books from anyone who would lend them to him. During his several trips into the county seat of Rockport, Abraham became acquainted with the lawyers John Pitcher and John Breckenridge, who kindled his interest in the practice of law, the profession he would later take up. 

During this same time he made his first trip with businessman Allen Gentry down to New Orleans to sell produce and bring home supplies. He earned eight dollars from the trip, and it is traditionally believed that the trip was when he first witness the selling of slaves. From his expediences on the trip, and the influences of the anti-slavery men in the state and his community, Abraham first began to form his opinions against slavery. 

After fourteen years in Indiana, Thomas Lincoln moved family again, selling his 100 acres homestead he then moved to their new homestead in Illinois in March of 1830.

Establishment of the memorial

The site was ignored as a link to Lincoln's past until 1879, when Nancy Hanks's grave was located; Peter E. Studebaker placed a headstone at the site. Local groups tried in vain to vitalize interest in the site for decades. 

In 1917 the foundation of the cabin was located, officially marked on April 28. The Indiana Lincoln Union was created in 1927 in order to mushroom the building of a memorial to Lincoln's stay in the Hoosier state. 

Part of the memorial, including the grave site of Nancy Lincoln, was transferred to the memorial by the adjacent Lincoln State Park that was established 1932 by the state of Indiana to protect the area and preserve the historic homestead site. 

Various improvement to the site occurred in the 1930s and 1940s, capped by the building of the Memorial building in 1944.

After the Indiana Legislature in 1962 donated 114 acres for the purpose, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial was created. The U.S. Congress authorized the National Memorial on February 19, 1962. 

As with all historic sites administered by the National Park Service, the memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, on October 15, 1966. In 1968 the Living Historical Farm was created after "meticulous research", as it was believed it would help visitors better understand Lincoln's time in the area.

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