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Last week Ray and I met our son John and his family for some fun at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. I knew that Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky and later spent several years of his childhood in Indiana, but it wasn’t until Ray and I were browsing in a Christmas store in Santa Claus that we realized with the help of a salesclerk that the site of his Indiana boyhood home lay just a few minutes out of town.

Since we weren’t expecting John and his family to arrive for another hour or so, we hurried to the National Park Service site, arriving just in time to get our National Park Passport stamped before the lone attendant inside the memorial locked the door for the day.

National Park Passport 007
The stamp is on the lower left on the right page. Oops! In my haste, I stamped it upside down. We have been carrying this “passport” around for almost 29 years. Our first stamp was Gettysburg, August 4, 1987.

The National Park site includes a memorial, pictured here with the setting sun shining brightly on the eastern side. The memorial was completed in 1943.

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

The memorial features sculptured panels by E. H. Daniel which depict five phases of Lincoln’s life, plus nine inscriptions revealing basic beliefs of Lincoln. The inscriptions came from Lincoln’s own writings.

This is a closeup of the first panel, which illustrates Lincoln’s childhood in Kentucky, where he lived from the time of his birth in 1809 until his family moved to Indiana in 1816. Standing behind seven-year-old Abraham is his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Second from the left is his father Thomas. Seated is Dr. Christopher Columbus Graham, a doctor and scientist who visited at the Lincoln home and fascinated young Abraham with his stories. Abraham’s only sister Sarah stands at the butter churn.

The Early Childhood Years of Lincoln
Kentucky Panel — The Childhood Years of Lincoln

Nancy Hanks was born in 1784 in a region of Virginia that is now West Virginia. At a young age, Nancy went to live with her uncle and aunt. She became a skilled seamstress. While living with her uncle and aunt, she met the carpenter Thomas Lincoln. They were married when she was twenty-two years old.

Thomas and Nancy became pioneer settlers in Kentucky. In December of 1808, they moved to Sinking Creek Farm, where young Abraham was born a couple of months later on February 12, 1809. When Abraham was in his second year, Thomas and Nancy moved ten miles away to Knob Creek. It was here that Abraham Lincoln remembered standing beside his mother in their log cabin and watching her face while she read the Bible.

Above the Kentucky panel is this quote from Lincoln’s Message to Congress on July 4,1861, just a few months after his inauguration as the 16th president and shortly after the beginning of the Civil War:

And having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God.

In 1830 Thomas and Nancy Lincoln moved their family to Indiana. Two years later Nancy died of milk sickness. She was buried on a knoll across from this memorial. At the beginning of the walkway to the cemetery is this monument to Nancy.

Nancy Hanks Marker
Nancy Hanks Marker

It reads:

You are facing the wooded knoll on which sleeps Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of the president, who lived in this Hoosier environment during the formative years of his life from 1816 to 1830. Beyond to the north is marked the site of the humble log cabin where she led him for a little while along the path of greatness.

We walked up to the pioneer cemetery where she was buried . . .

Pioneer Cemetery, Lincoln City, Indiana
Pioneer Cemetery, Lincoln City, Indiana

Below is a late afternoon closeup of her grave which is seen at far right in the photo above.

Grave of Nancy Hanks Lincoln
Grave of Nancy Hanks Lincoln

It reads:

NANCY HANKS
LINCOLN
Mother of President
LINCOLN
DIED
Oct. 3 A.D. 1818
Aged 35 Years

 

On this fourth of July, may the words her son spoke on the fourth of July 155 years ago encourage you as you prepare to homeschool your children this fall:

And having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God.

As Paul wrote to Timothy:

But the goal of our instruction is
love from a pure heart
and a good conscience
and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5

 

 

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