Papa Report #3


Papa Was A Boy in Gray Book Tour

with Prize-Winning author Mary w. Schaller


Report #3 from Abe:  June 11, 2001

Greetings from Illinois -- the Land of Lincoln!!!

Sacagawea Joins the Group:
Note from Mary: First of all, Sacagawea arrived today [in Illinois] and was here to greet us as we pulled in the drive from our road trip to Cincinnati, Ohio. "Saqui" has made herself quite at home already. The boys are:

Robert E.: Charmed!

Abe: Delighted!

Ulysses: Overwhelmed!

Mary: Please excuse Ulysses' grumpiness. He is sulking because we didn't have time to visit his birthplace in Point Pleasant, Ohio, but I have promised him that next week we will be visiting Grant's Farm, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Robert E. has finally perked up a bit. He's been sulking for over ten days because his Report #1 is still missing in action. Abe, on the other hand is euphoric. This past week has really been very special for him, so once again, I will turn the keyboard over to Abe.

Greetings once again from the Land of Lincoln!

Abe: I like that title. It has a nice ring to it. This past week has been a real sentimental journey for me, Ulysses, and Robert E. We have visited not one, but two, special places in my history. I will start in the order of my life's story.

Abe Moves to Indiana:
Did you know
that for fourteen years I was a Hoosier? In case you are confused, Hoosiers are what the good citizens of the State of Indiana call themselves. And from the ages of 7 to 21, I grew up in Indiana, so therefore, I was a Hoosier.

As you may know, I was born in a log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky, on February 12, 1809. So I am a Kentuckian by birth. When I was seven, my father and mother, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, moved my sister Sarah and me to a spot in the then-wilderness called Little Pigeon Creek in Southern Indiana, where my father built another log cabin.

Abe's Favorite Book:
Here I grew up and did all the things that growing boys (and bears) do. I worked hard, went to school when I could, and read as many books as possible. Books were hard to come by in those days on the frontier. My favorite book was the biography of our First President, George Washington, written by the Reverend Parson Weems.

Lincoln Boyhood National Historic Site (Indiana):

My Boyhood Home is now a National Historic Monument owned and maintained by the National Park Service. It is located near the modern-day towns of Dale and Santa Claus, Indiana.

Robert E.: I was hoping for a side trip to Santa Claus, Indiana, because I have always been very partial to Santa Claus myself -- even if he was of Northern origin. However, we ran out of time since Abe spent several hours prancing all over his boyhood home site.

Abe: Ahem… Thank you, Robert. Your turn is sure to come again. As I was saying, we had a wonderful visit to the old homeplace. The foundations and chimney stones of the original log cabin are preserved in bronze near another log cabin built over 150 years ago. The Lincoln family lived in a one-room cabin that was a lot smaller than today's average automobile garage. There was a small loft overhead where we boys slept. By the time I was eleven, my mother, Nancy, had died, and my father remarried a widow named Sarah Johnson. My new stepmother had three children of her own (all girls). My cousin, Dennis Hanks, also lived with us. All in all, there were 8 people who shared the good times and the bad under that small roof.

Here are some photos of us at the Lincoln Boyhood Home in Lincoln City, Indiana. Mary had a great time showing us around. I particularly like the one of me sitting on a split rail fence in front of the log cabin near the homesite. You can see the log cabin on my chest is exactly the same as the log cabin behind me!

That is why I wear it -- to symbolize my American frontier roots. I never forgot where I came from.

The next photo is of Ulysses and me in front of a bas-relief of Lincoln and General Grant at City Point, Virginia, during the last year of the Civil War. A bas-relief is a wall with figures that are partially three-dimensional. This particular bas-relief is one of four that decorate the Visitor's Center at the Boyhood Home. E.H. Daniels sculpted them.

Ulysses: I think we look pretty good.

Robert E.: You would!

Abe: Gentlemen, please!

Abe Gives Rail Splitting Pointers:
While in Indiana, I grew very big and tall for my age. When I was in my teens, I learned how to split logs into rails for fencing. I did that chore so much that later in my political career, I was known as the Railsplitter.

The next photos are of the three of us sitting on a fence. I am giving Robert E. and Ulysses some pointers on how to split rails.


Ulysses: I knew how to do that already!

Robert E.: I spent most of my boyhood in school. I had no time to split logs.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site (Springfield, IL):
Abe: To continue… We visited the Boyhood Home on June 8. A few days earlier on June 2, we had spent a few hours in Springfield, the capital of Illinois, at my home there. The house at the corner of 8th and Jackson Streets was the only home I ever owned. I had moved to Springfield, Illinois, as a young man where I took up the practice of the law. Mind you, I was mostly self-taught but I read everything I could get my hands on and took lessons under some good frontier lawyers of the day. On November 4, 1842, I married Mary Todd, a young Kentucky belle. When my law practice grew profitable, I was able to afford to buy us this house. In time, three of our four sons were born here in Springfield. It was a far cry from the log cabins where I was born and reared. We lived in this very comfortable abode from 1844 to 1861, until we moved to Washington, D.C., where my final home would be the White House. Photos: Lincoln Home in 1860 with the National Park Service Passport Cancellation (left), Lincoln Home today (right).  



This photo shows me at the entrance of the Dean House, across the street form the Lincoln House. The Dean House contains a small exhibit of the life and times of the Lincolns in Springfield. Did you know the Lincolns had a tan-colored dog named Fido? He didn't go to Washington but was left in Springfield with family friends. Mary Lincoln thought Fido might tear up the White House's furnishings. Fido's picture is on display in the exhibit.

The other photo is of Mary and me outside the Springfield home. Sigh! It was my favorite place to live.

That wraps up my report on the Lincoln homes. This coming week, all of us, including our newest member, Sacagawea, will be on the road in Missouri. Until then, I leave you with a little saying I wrote in my math exercise book when I was a schoolboy:

"Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pen,
he will be good but God knows when."