Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

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Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is a United States Presidential Memorial in Lincoln City, Indiana 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 across the street at Lincoln State Park. 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. The Lincoln Boyhood Home was named a National Historic Landmark in 1960. In 2005 the site had a visitation of 147,443 people. The site is located about ten minutes off the Interstate 64/ U.S. 231 junction and nearby the new U.S. 231 Route, now officially the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Parkway.

Memorial features

Memorial building
The centerpiece of the memorial is a one-story limestone ashlar memorial building completed in 1944 (in spite of the shortages caused by World War II) that features five sculpted murals of the different phases of Lincoln's life. The building can be accessed after paying an entrance fee. Within the building is a small theater where a film about Lincoln's life in Indiana can be viewed. A museum featuring several exhibits and artifacts surrounding Lincoln's life are located in an adjoining hall. Within the building can also be found a sizable private gallery of Lincoln-related artwork, including numerous portraits and lithographs of Lincoln and his family, and the park is home to an original oil painting of Abraham's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Also inside the memorial building is a chapel and meeting hall where weddings and other gatherings are frequently 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 in southern Indiana, settling in what was known as the Little 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 early September 1818, milk sickness, caused by the cows eating the white snakeroot plants, struck the community. Most of those in Little Pigeon Creek who drank the milk of the cows became deathly ill, including Abraham's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Having contracted the illness herself, Mrs. Lincoln succumbed and died on October 5, 1818. She was buried in a gravesite behind the family cabin next to the Lincolns' closest neighbor, Nancy Rusher Brooner. After she contracted the milk sickness, Mrs. Brooner had been nursed by Nancy Lincoln and died of the illness two weeks before Mrs. Lincoln on September 18. It was not until the following spring that a minister was able to arrive and safely conduct a funeral service for all of the dead. Although devastated by his mother's death, young Abraham Lincoln kept busy tending to his father's farm. His father soon remarried to the widow Sarah Johnson, a widow who already had three children, all of whom moved into the Lincoln cabin. Abraham shared the cabin's loft with his two stepbrothers for the rest of time in Indiana. Early on, the Lincoln family joined the nearby Little Pigeon Creek Primitive 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 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 monthes. In 1822 his parents enrolled him in a new school taught by James Swaney. Because the new school was over 4 miles (6.4 km) 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 the Little Pigeon Creek Primitive 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 southern Indiana, Thomas Lincoln moved family again, selling his 100 acres (40 ha) homestead he then moved to their new homestead in Illinois in March 1830.

Establishment of the memorial
The site was largely ignored as a link to Lincoln's past until 1879. At that time when Nancy Hanks' grave was located, Peter Evans Studebaker (of the South Bend, Indiana Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company) arranged for a headstone to be placed 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 and 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 (46 ha) 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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