Birthplace of Great President to Be Converted Into Public Park

February 8, 1908

Summary

The farm in which Lincoln was born and grew up on is sold to a man who is going to turn it into a national park.

Transcription

On February 12, 1909, the Kentucky farm where Abraham Lincoln was born, will, if all goes well, be dedicated to the American people as a national park. Its 110 rocky acred in the heart of the Blue Grass state have been purchases, and an association has been organized to restore its many natural beauties.
The log cabin in which the future president was born was recently rescued from a cellar at College Point, Long Island, where it had been ignominiously dumped after traveling about the country as a show. With imposing ceremonies, it was carried back to it native soil, and restored to the very spot where “Tom” Lincoln, the father, put its rough timbers together. On another part of the farm, as an antithesis to the hut, and as illustrative of the height to which the son attained from such a humble origin, it is planned to erect a memorial structure which will be an exact reproduction of the White House at the time Lincoln lived there. Within its wall will be preserved all the available historical treasures associated with his name and fame.
The date chosen for the dedication of the Lincoln farm is especially appropriate, for it marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the martyred president. Prominent Americans from the north, south, east, and west are expected to be present at the exercises. President Roosevelt has accepted the invitation to make the principal address of the day. Has the farm not been purchased when it was for a national park, it might even now have been the site for a distillery. Because of a spring on the farm, famous throughout Kentucky for the purity of its waters, a wealthy Louisville whisky manufacturer had sought to buy the property that he might advertise his products in some way such as this: (INSERT IMAGE) As it happened, whisky helped defeat whisky. When it was publicly announced that the long drawn out litigation in which the farm’s title had become entangled was at last ended, and that it would be sold at auction on August 28, 1905, the Louisville distiller sent a representative “to bid it in,” no matter what the figure. The agent got as far as Elizabethtown, KY, some 12 miles from Hodgenville, where the auction was to take place, and, as it was Sunday and the sale was to be held in the afternoon of the following day, he put up at a hotel and “took things easy,” intending to drive over to Hodgenville the next morning. But although the trains do not run in that part of Kentucky on Sunday, the bottles do, and the whisky man dank long and often in the barroom. Here he made the acquaintance of a young man from New York, who had come to buy the farm for its preservation as a park, and who is now secretary of the Lincoln Farm association. On learning the purpose of the man from Louisville and noticing that “the tide was coming in,” the New Yorker got up at daybreak the next morning and hurried to Hodgenville in the fastest conveyance he could hire.
On reaching Hodgenville the New York man asked that the auction be held as early as possible, and he bought the farm for $3,500 about a quarter of an hour before the whisky man arrived.
The restoration of the log cabin to its native state was a spectacle as imposing as its consignment to a cellar in New York was inglorious. It was placed on a special car and escorted back to Kentucky by a squad of Kentucky militiamen. At Philadelphia, Baltimore, Harrisburg, Altoona, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Indianapolis it rested under military guard. Governors and mayors met it at various railroad stations and paid tribute to the life that began within its rough timbers. When the special train on which it rode crossed the Ohio river from Indiana into Kentucky, it was met at the Louisville station with military honors. Col. Henry Waterson and Adlal E. Stevenson made the chief speeches of welcome.
The cost of making a park of the Lincoln farm, of erecting the memorial hall and of carrying out other plans is being met by popular subscriptions sent to Clarence H. Mackay, treasurer of the Lincoln Farm association. Other officers of the association are Joseph W. Folk, president: William H, Taft, Cardinal Gibbons, Samuel L. Clemens, August Belmont and lyman J. Gage.
The movement to preserve the scenes of the earliest years of Lincoln’s life has revived unusual interest in all the associations of his youth. The graybeards of Hodgenville, the hamlet which is situated about two miles from the Lincoln farm, ever since they were aroused by its sale at auction, have been telling many a story about “Little Abe,” when a lad; about “Tom,” his father, and Nancy, his mother. “Abe” lived on the farm, they say, until he was four and a half years old, when, because of the scant produce of its 110 acres, the family was forced to move to a house in the village, where “Tom” Lincoln barely supported his family by working at odd jobs as a carpenter. There they lived until the boy was nearly ten, when the Lincolns moved to Indiana.
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Upper Left Quadrant

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Emma Alvarez

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Citation

“Birthplace of Great President to Be Converted Into Public Park,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed April 26, 2018, http://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/510.