Birthplace of an Icon
Updated: Apr 26, 2021
~Friday, April 16, 2021~
Kentucky is exactly the way I pictured…...miles and miles of white fencing along with rolling green countryside, dotted with grazing cows and running horses. Gorgeous. One of the must see stops in this part of Kentucky is Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace National Historical Park, in Hodgenville, about a 45 minute drive south of Bardstown. Passing what we thought was the park, it appeared to be closed. The Lincoln Museum is in downtown Hodgenville so we stopped in, only to ask if that was in fact the national park? After my brief moment of wallowing, we were told the park is indeed open. Whew! What we saw was Lincoln’s boyhood home at Knob Creek, which is definitely closed due to an extensive renovation that won’t be ready until the Fall of 2021, so shucks! It looks like we’re going to miss that when we come back around in June. The museum does look interesting and something we should think about coming back to see when we have more time. About another 10 minute drive south, we finally found Lincoln’s birthplace, and what a fitting most beautiful setting it is. The best place to start is the visitor center which was indeed open. As time goes on, this seems to be more and more the norm, all while minding social distancing. With Spring Break behind us, the park was virtually ours that day. Starting in the visitor center, you get a glimpse into Lincoln’s very young life at Sinking Spring Farm where he lived until the age of 2. Replicas of what the interior of the family cabin would have looked like are on display as well as the original Lincoln family Bible. Before touring the grounds, we couldn’t help but purchase one of the best books ever written about Lincoln: A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White. If there is one president I would really like to delve into learning more about, it’s Lincoln. (We’re purchasing a book for each state we visit where you can check out those recommended reads on our website under “Trip Bookroom''.) The park attendant recommended another book called “Lincoln'' by David Donald, but they were out of stock.
On to our tour. Abraham’s parents, Nancy and Thomas who were thought to be upper middle class, purchased 300 acres of this beautiful land for $200 in 1808. Lincoln’s younger sister Sarah, was 1 at the time. No one really knows what brought them here, since the area was not known for its fertility. They moved into a one-room log cabin about 18 x 16 feet where Nancy gave birth to Abraham, named after his grandfather. Thomas was a cabinet maker/carpenter and soon to be farmer after purchasing several plots of land and livestock. The family was admired and well-liked.
Lincoln and his family later moved to Knob Creek Farm in 1811, for better farmland. They think it was here where Lincoln’s views on slavery may have been formed as he was learning how to read and write by Caleb Hazel, an outspoken emancipationist. Lincoln’s family also belonged to an antislavery church. Holding land titles was always a very tricky thing back then, so unfortunately Thomas lost the battle with his. After only 5 years there and fed up, the Lincoln’s moved from Kentucky to Indiana.
The highlight of the tour is the Memorial Building which houses only one thing…..a symbolic cabin. There are 56 steps
leading you up to the memorial that symbolize Lincoln’s 56 years of life. The cabin was originally thought to be Lincoln’s birth home, but it wasn’t until 2004, that a tree ring analysis, determined that this could NOT have been the original. Today, it remains only a symbol. It’s actually quite a moving place, knowing that this beautiful, peaceful piece of property is where one of the greatest leaders of our country was born.
In 1905, publisher Robert Collier purchased this farm at Sinking Spring and along with others, including Mark Twain, formed the Lincoln Farm Association in 1906 to preserve Lincoln’s birthplace and establish a memorial for the nation’s 16th president. This group also raised over $350,000 from 100,000 citizens to build a memorial to house the cabin. President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1909 and in 1916, the farm became a national park. This quote sums the park up well…...“The rough cabin within the memorial dramatizes the basic values that sustained Lincoln as he led the nation through its darkest period”. Lincoln had one of the greatest, positive impacts on our country and was the epitome of what a president should be; a leader with grace, class, confidence and leadership, so deserving of this memorial. We happened to be here on the anniversary of his death, where every year, the columns at the Memorial Building are shroud in purple and black.
A wonderful visit while in Kentucky.
Arriving back to our campground we were grateful no one was parked across from us obstructing our gorgeous golf course view. Being at our corner location, we were basically the “greeting committee” along with Sadie, and met a couple from Mount Washington, KY…...Cindy and Tony, along with her 88 year-old mom. We also met a very nice couple from Wisconsin. When we told them about our upcoming tour at Churchill Downs, Cindy told us about an event that takes place every year two weeks before Derby Day, called Thunder Over Louisville. They are not specifying an exact location of this fantastic fireworks show, due to COVID, but we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled to the sky on our way back from Louisville, weather cooperating.