Lincoln’s Boyhood

We recently visited Evansville, Indiana with DH, who had to go there for work.

Lincoln's Boyhood Brochure

While dad was working, the girls and I made a side trip to Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood National Memorial, just 45 minutes from our hotel. The park was really easy to find, and we ended up being the only ones there that morning.  The ranger seemed kind of shocked to see us pull in, to be honest. It was kind of funny. But he was friendly and helped us get our Junior Ranger booklets. Most national parks have a Junior Ranger program, which is really neat. The kids complete several activities in a booklet (which they get to keep! bonus!), then there are often other activities like attending a ranger program or picking up trash, etc., and then they get pins and/or patches to show they are Junior Rangers for that park. We’ve already earned ones from Gold Rush National Park in Seattle and the Grand Canyon North Rim. The kids think they’re fun and they are a lot more engaged than I remember being when my parents slogged us through national parks ad nauseum.

Proof:

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Here’s the visitor’s center, where we started. We saw a 15 minute movie narrated by Leonard Nimoy about Lincoln’s time in Indiana (he lived here from age 7 until he was 21). It was very interesting.  I didn’t know (or didn’t remember) that Lincoln’s mother died when he was 9, and that his father was remarried to a woman who had three other children.

Also very interesting: Lincoln was homeschooled.  Actually, he was pretty much unschooled.  They only had one book, the bible, until his stepmother brought three more books with her when she moved to Indiana with the Lincolns.  The film said that Lincoln probably had about a year’s worth of “schooling” over his lifetime.

Here is a view of the visitor’s center:

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Each of those “panels” on the walls of the visitor’s center are a carved relief with one of Abe’s famous quotations etched above.  Here is one:

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The park is not overly large, but much of the important stuff is outside. We decided to walk to the knoll where Lincoln’s mother is buried and then hike the memorial trail that loops past the Lincoln family’s farmsite. First we checked ahead in the books to see if there’s anything in particular we would want to pay attention to on our hike to the Pioneer Cemetery and the Trail of Twelve Stones.

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Here we are, looking across the parking lot at the Tallest Flagpole In Indiana. It’s 150′ high.

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View of the visitor’s center from the flagpole/knoll:

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Bonus: the daffodils were in bloom! Ours at home are still just little shoots.

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So first we checked out the cemetery. Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abe’s mother, is buried here. So are many other pioneers from that time. This area had an outbreak of “milk sickness”, which people got when they drank the milk of a cow who had ingested white snakeroot plants. A toxin accumulated in the cow’s milk and most people who got “milk sickness” died from it. Now that we know what causes it, it’s not as deadly (or common). But back then, it was just a deadly, mysterious illness.

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We wrote a few answers in our booklets, then decided to head up the Trail of Twelve Stones.

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There are twelve rocks, stones and/or bricks positioned along the trail and each one has some kind of significance in Lincoln’s life. For some reason, I only photographed ten of them. But we found all twelve. We also found the family’s farmsite, which has a little monument on it.

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I guess during the summer months, they have people working on the farm and running it just like it would have been in Abe’s time. Today, though, it was just us and some chickens.

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O7 found a nice walking stick, though. She carried it the entire rest of the way.

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Here’s where the stones begin:

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This is the very rock Lincoln stood on when he delivered the Gettysburg Address:

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It was pretty chilly out, but the sun felt nice and the cool air was refreshing after the long car ride.

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We hiked about a mile total, which was perfect.

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Then O7 insisted I photograph her at the flagpole, but with her walking stick this time.

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The kids took their books inside and finished the rest of the activities, and then we got our Junior Ranger pins. I let them each pick out a postcard, and we also bought a little souvenir activity book about Abraham Lincoln that they could do in the car.

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Trading Cards from Lincoln's Boyhood

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