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Perry County, Indiana. Here he sold his treacherous boat, and, leaving his remaining property in the care of a settler named Posey, trudged off on foot to select "a location" in the wilderness. He did not go far, but found a place that he thought would suit him only sixteen miles distant from the river. He then turned about, and walked all the way back to Knob Creek, in Kentucky, where he took a fresh start with his wife and her children. Of the latter there were only two,-Nancy (or Sarah), nine years of age, and Abraham, seven. Mrs. Lincoln had given birth to another son some years before, but he had died when only three days old. After leaving Kentucky, she had no more children.
This time Lincoln loaded what little he had left upon two horses, and "packed through to Posey's." Besides clothing and bedding, they carried such cooking utensils as would be needed by the way, and would be indispensable when they reached their destination. The stock was not large. It consisted of "one oven and lid, one skillet and lid, and some tin-ware." They camped out during the nights, and of course cooked their own food. Lincoln's skill as a hunter must now have stood him in good stead.
Where he got the horses used upon this occasion, it is impossible to say; but they were likely borrowed from his brother-in-law, Krume, of Breckinridge County, who owned such stock, and subsequently moved Sarah Johnston's goods to Indiana, after her marriage with Lincoln.
When they got to Posey's, Lincoln hired a wagon, and, loading on it the whiskey and other things he had stored there, went on toward the place which has since become famous as the "Lincoln Farm." He was now making his way through an almost untrodden wilderness. There was no road, and for a part of the distance not even a foot-trail. He was slightly assisted by a path of a few miles in length, which had been "blazed out" by an earlier settler named Hoskins. But he was obliged to suffer long delays, and cut out a passage for the wagon with his axe. At length, after many detentions and difficulties he reached the point
where he intended to make his future home. It was situated between the forks of Big Pigeon and Little Pigeon Creeks, a mile and a half east of Gentryville, a village which grew up afterwards, and now numbers about three hundred inhabitants. The whole country was covered with a dense forest of oaks, beeches, walnuts, sugar-maples, and nearly all the varieties of trees that flourish in North America. The woods were usually open, and devoid of underbrush; the trees were of the largest growth, and beneath the deep shades they afforded was spread out a rich greensward. The natural grazing was very good, and hogs found abundant sustenance in the prodigious quantity of mast. There was occasionally a little glade or prairie set down in the midst of this vast expanse of forest. One of these, not far from the Lincoln place, was a famous resort for the deer, and the hunters knew it well for its numerous "licks." Upon this prairie the militia "musters" were had at a later day, and from it the south fork of the Pigeon came finally to be known as the "Prairie Fork.'
Lincoln laid off his curtilage on a gentle hillock having a slope on every side. The spot was very beautiful, and the soil was excellent. The selection was wise in every respect but one. There was no water near, except what was collected in holes in the ground after a rain; but it was very foul, and had to be strained before using. At a later period we find Abraham and his step-sister carrying water from a spring situated a mile away. Dennis Hanks asserts that Tom Lincoln "riddled his land like a honeycomb," in search of good water, and was at last sorely tempted to employ a Yankee, who came around with a divining-rod, and declared that for the small consideration of five dollars in cash, he would make his rod point to a cool, flowing spring beneath the surface.
Here Lincoln built "a half-faced camp," - a cabin enclosed on three sides and open on the fourth. It was built, not of logs, but of poles, and was therefore denominated a "camp," to distinguish it from a "cabin." It was about fourteen feet square, and had no floor. It was no larger than the first house
he lived in at Elizabethtown, and on the whole not as good a shelter. But Lincoln was now under the influence of a transient access of ambition, and the camp was merely preliminary to something better. He lived in it, however, for a whole year, before he attained to the dignity of a residence in a cabin. "In the mean time he cleaned some land, and raised a small crop of corn and vegetables."
In the fall of 1817, Thomas and Betsy Sparrow came out from Kentucky, and took up their abode in the old camp which the Lincolns had just deserted for the cabin. Betsy was the aunt who had raised Nancy Hanks. She had done the same in part for our friend Dennis Hanks, who was the offspring of another sister, and she now brought him with her. Dennis thus became the constant companion of young Abraham; and all the other members of that family, as originally settled in Indiana, being dead, Dennis remains a most important witness as to this period of Mr. Lincoln's life.
Lincoln's second house was a "rough, rough log" one: the timbers were not hewed; and until after the arrival of Sally Bush, in 1819, it had neither floor, door, nor window. It stood about forty yards from what Dennis Hanks calls that "darned little half-faced camp," which was now the dwelling of the Sparrows. It was "right in the bush,” — in the heart of a virgin wilderness. There were only seven or eight older settlers in the neighborhood of the two Pigeon Creeks. Lincoln had had some previous acquaintance with one of them, a Mr. Thomas Carter; and it is highly probable that nothing but this trivial circumstance induced him to settle here.1
The nearest town was Troy, situated on the Ohio, about half a mile from the mouth of Anderson Creek. Gentryville had as yet no existence. Travelling was on horseback or on foot, and the only resort of commerce was to the packhorse or the canoe. But a prodigious immigration was now
1 The principal authorities for this part of our narrative are necessarily Dennis and John Hanks; but their statements have been carefully collated with those of other persons, both in Kentucky and Indiana.、
sweeping into this inviting country. Harrison's victories over the Indians had opened it up to the peaceful settler; and Indiana was admitted into the Union in 1816, with a population of sixty-five thousand. The county in which Thomas Lincoln settled was Perry, with the county-seat at Troy; but he soon found himself in the new county of Spencer, with the court-house at Rockport, twenty miles south of him, and the thriving village of Gentryville within a mile and a half of his door.
A post-office was established at Gentryville in 1824 or 1825. Dennis Hanks helped to hew the logs used to build the first storeroom. The following letter from Mr. David Turnham, now of Dale, Spencer County, presents some interesting and perfectly authentic information regarding the village and the settlements around it in those early times:
"Yours of the 5th inst. is at hand. As you wish me to answer several questions, I will give you a few items of the early settlement of Indiana.
"When my father came here in the spring of 1819, he settled in Spencer County, within one mile of Thomas Lincoln, then a widower. The chance for schooling was poor; but, such as it was, Abraham and myself attended the same schools.
“We first had to go seven miles to mill; and then it was a hand-mill that would grind from ten to fifteen bushels of corn in a day. There was but little wheat grown at that time; and, when we did have wheat, we had to grind it on the mill described, and use it without bolting, as there were no bolts in the country. In the course of two or three years, a man by the name of Huffman built a mill on Anderson River, about twelve miles distant. Abe and I had to do the milling on horseback, frequently going twice to get one grist. Then they began building horse-mills of a little better quality than the hand-mills.
"The country was very rough, especially in the low lands, so thick with bush that a man could scarcely get through on foot. These places were called Roughs. The country
abounded in game, such as bears, deer, turkeys, and the smaller game.
"About the time Huffman built his mill, there was a road laid out from Corydon to Evansville, running by Mr. Lincoln's farm, and through what is now Gentryville. Corydon was then the State capital.
"About the year 1823, there was another road laid out from Rockport to Bloomington, crossing the aforesaid at right angles, where Gentryville now stands. James Gentry entered the land; and in about a year Gideon Romine brought goods there, and shortly after succeeded in getting a post-office, by the name of Gentryville Post-office. Then followed the laying out of lots, and the selling of them, and a few were improved. But for some cause the lots all fell back to the original owner. The lots were sold in 1824 or 1825. Romine kept goods there a short time, and sold out to Gentry, but the place kept on increasing slowly. William Jones came in with a store, that made it improve a little faster, but Gentry bought him out. Jones bought a tract of land one-half mile from Gentryville, moved to it, went into business there, and drew nearly all the custom. Gentry saw that it was ruining his town: he compromised with Jones, and got him back to Ġentryville; and about the year 1847 or 1848 there was another survey of lots, which remains.
"This is as good a history of the rise of Gentryville as I can give, after consulting several of the old settlers.
"At that time there were a great many deer-licks; and Abe and myself would go to those licks sometimes, and watch of nights to kill deer, though Abe was not so fond of a gun as I was. There were ten or twelve of these licks in a small prairie on the creek, lying between Mr. Lincoln's and Mr. Wood's (the man you call Moore). This gave it the name of Prairie Fork of Pigeon Creek.
"The people in the first settling of this country were very sociable, kind, and accommodating; but there was more drunkenness and stealing on a small scale, more immorality, less religion, less well-placed confidence."