Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site

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The Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site is an 86-acre (0.3 km²) history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 park located eight miles (13 km) south of Charleston, Illinois
Charleston, Illinois
Charleston is a city in and the county seat of Coles County, Illinois, United States. The population was 21,838 as of the 2010 census. The city is home to Eastern Illinois University and has close ties with its neighbor Mattoon, Illinois...

, U.S.A., near the town of Lerna
Lerna, Illinois
Lerna is a village in Coles County, Illinois, United States. The population was 286 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Charleston–Mattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area....

. Its centerpiece is a replica of the log cabin
Log cabin
A log cabin is a house built from logs. It is a fairly simple type of log house. A distinction should be drawn between the traditional meanings of "log cabin" and "log house." Historically most "Log cabins" were a simple one- or 1½-story structures, somewhat impermanent, and less finished or less...

 built and occupied by Thomas Lincoln
Thomas Lincoln
Thomas Lincoln was an American farmer and father of President Abraham Lincoln.-Ancestors:Thomas Lincoln was descended from Samuel Lincoln, a Puritan from East Anglia who landed in Massachusetts in 1637...

, father of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

. The younger Lincoln never lived here and visited infrequently, but he provided financial help to the household and, after Thomas died in 1851, Abraham owned and maintained the farm for his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln
Sarah Bush Lincoln
Sarah Bush Lincoln was the second wife of Thomas Lincoln and stepmother of President of the United States Abraham Lincoln. She was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Christopher and Hannah Bush. She married her first husband, Daniel Johnston, in 1806, and they had three children. When Daniel...

. The farmstead is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is a governmental agency of the U.S. state of Illinois. It is tasked with the duty of maintaining most State-owned historic sites within Illinois, and maximizing their educational and recreational value to visitors....

.

History


Abraham Lincoln's birth mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died in 1818 while the family lived in southern Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

. In 1819, Lincoln's father Thomas Lincoln
Thomas Lincoln
Thomas Lincoln was an American farmer and father of President Abraham Lincoln.-Ancestors:Thomas Lincoln was descended from Samuel Lincoln, a Puritan from East Anglia who landed in Massachusetts in 1637...

 married Sarah Bush Lincoln
Sarah Bush Lincoln
Sarah Bush Lincoln was the second wife of Thomas Lincoln and stepmother of President of the United States Abraham Lincoln. She was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Christopher and Hannah Bush. She married her first husband, Daniel Johnston, in 1806, and they had three children. When Daniel...

 of Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

. In 1830, Thomas and Sarah's newly combined family migrated west from Indiana into central Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

.

After a wretched winter in 1830-1831 at a campsite west of Decatur
Decatur, Illinois
Decatur is the largest city and the county seat of Macon County in the U.S. state of Illinois. The city, sometimes called "the Soybean Capital of the World", was founded in 1823 and is located along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur in Central Illinois. In 2000 the city population was 81,500,...

, young Abraham, now an adult, left the family to start his own homestead and seek his fortune in Sangamon County. Wandering generally southeastward, Thomas and Sarah eventually settled in Coles County. After living unsuccessfully on three separate farmsteads within the county, Thomas bought a small plot near the Embarras River
Embarras River
The Embarras River is a tributary of the Wabash River in southeastern Illinois in the United States. The waters of the Embarras reach the Gulf of Mexico via the Wabash, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers. The river drains a watershed of approximately in an agricultural region...

 in 1840, part of what was then called Goosenest Prairie, now within Pleasant Grove Township on the southern edge of Coles County.

At some point soon after that purchase, Thomas and Sarah built what was to be their final home, a saddlebag cabin with two main rooms and additional sleeping and storage space in a loft or attic accessed by a ladder. By 1845, the cabin was home to as many as 18 members of the Lincoln and Johnston families, living together in an extended-family arrangement common in Appalachian Southern culture. Abraham Lincoln, now a rising state legislator and lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

, provided financial help to his parents but did not visit them as often as he could. As a lawyer, he was in Charleston, site of the Coles County courthouse, quite frequently, but only visited "every year or two." Though he remembered his stepmother fondly, Lincoln was not very close to his father; he did not visit even when Thomas Lincoln was terminally ill in 1851.

At the end of January 1861, Abraham Lincoln, the President-elect
President-elect
An -elect is a political candidate who has been elected to an office but who has not yet been sworn in or officially taken office. These may include an incoming president, senator, representative, governor and mayor.Analogously, the term "designate" An -elect is a political candidate who has been...

, traveled by newly laid railroad tracks from Springfield to Farmington, a few miles north of the cabin, to visit his widowed stepmother (Farmington is now the unincorporated hamlet of Campbell and not to be confused with Farmington, Illinois
Farmington, Illinois
Farmington is a city in the northeast corner of Fulton County, Illinois, United States. It is north of Canton and Lewistown, west of Peoria and Bloomington, and east of Galesburg and Macomb. The population was 2,601 at the 2000 census. The public school system is Farmington Central Community Unit...

). Their meeting occurred at the middle-class frame house of prominent Farmington citizen (and Sarah's son-in-law) Reuben Moore. They also visited Thomas Lincoln's grave at nearby Shiloh Cemetery. Sarah was fond of her stepson and had always believed he would be successful. This was to be their last visit; Lincoln never returned to Illinois alive.

Sarah Bush Lincoln lived in the Goosenest Prairie cabin until her death in 1869. Sarah Lincoln was buried with Thomas in Shiloh Cemetery.

The site today



In 1893, the original Thomas Lincoln log cabin was disassembled and shipped northward to serve as an exhibit at the World's Columbian Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition
The World's Columbian Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St...

 in Chicago, Illinois. The original cabin was lost after the Exposition, and may have been used as firewood. However, the cabin had been photographed many times, and an exact replica was built from the photographs and from contemporary descriptions.

The current Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site includes three houses on two sites:
  • A reconstruction of the Thomas Lincoln log cabin, completed in 1934 as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps
    Civilian Conservation Corps
    The Civilian Conservation Corps was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D...

    . It is surrounded by a subsistence farmstead similar to the senior Lincoln's actual farm, is the central feature of the main site. The farm includes heirloom crops and cattle breeds similar or identical to those used at the time.
  • The Stephen Sargent home, built on a site 10 miles to the east starting in 1853 and moved to the main site in 1985, reflects successful cash crop
    Cash crop
    In agriculture, a cash crop is a crop which is grown for profit.The term is used to differentiate from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family...

     farming practices of the 1850s, and is meant to contrast with the Lincoln farm.
  • The Reuben Moore Home, occupied by a branch of the family starting in 1856, was the place of Abraham and Sarah Bush Lincoln's final meeting. It is located about 1 mile (2 km) north of the main Goosenest Prairie site in what is now the former village of Farmington.


The Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site is interpreted to the mid-1840s, the time of its occupation by many members of the extended Lincoln family. The main site also includes the cornfields, gardens, small orchards, livestock, and outbuildings that would be found on a farm of the period. The crops and livestock are all of historic heirloom varieties
Heirloom plant
An heirloom plant, heirloom variety, or heirloom vegetable is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture...

. A great many additional activities occur during the annual Fall Harvest Frolic
Harvest festival
A Harvest Festival is an annual celebration which occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. Given the differences in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times throughout the world...

.

Current status


In response to budget cuts, the state of Illinois temporarily closed the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site from December 2008 until April 2009.

External links