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unless he had known something of geography as well as astronomy. He often and often commented or talked to me. about what he had read, • seemed to read it out of the book as he went along, did so to others. He was the learned boy among us unlearned folks. He took great pains to explain; could do it so simply. He was diffident then too." 1
The trip of Gentry and Lincoln was a very profitable one, and Mr. Gentry, senior, was highly gratified by the result. Abe displayed his genius for mercantile affairs by handsomely putting off on the innocent folks along the river some counterfeit money which a shrewd fellow had imposed upon Allen. Allen thought his father would be angry with him for suffering himself to be cheated; but Abe consoled him with the reflection that the "old man " wouldn't care how much bad money they took in the course of business if they only brought the proper amount of good money home.2
At Madame Bushane's plantation, six miles below Baton Rouge, they had an adventure, which reads strangely enough in the life of the great emancipator. The boat was tied up to the shore, in the dead hours of the night, and Abe and Allen were fast asleep in the "cabin," in the stern, when they were startled by footsteps on board. They knew instantly that it was a gang of negroes come to rob, and perhaps to murder them. Allen, thinking to frighten the intruders, cried out, "Bring the guns, Lincoln; shoot them!" Abe came without a gun, but he fell among the negroes with a huge bludgeon, and belabored them most cruelly. Not content with beating them off the boat, he and Gentry followed them far back into the country, and then, running back to
1 "When he appeared in company, the boys would gather and cluster around him to hear him talk. . Mr. Lincoln was figurative in his speeches, talks, and conversations. He argued much from analogy, and explained things hard for us to understand by stories, maxims, tales, and figures. He would almost always point his lesson or idea by some story that was plain and near us, that we might instantly see the force and bearing of what he said.”— NAT GRIgsby.
2"Gentry (Allen) was a great personal friend of Mr. Lincoln. He was a Democrat, but voted for Lincoln, sacrificing his party politics to his friendship. He says that on that trip they sold some of their produce at a certain landing, and by accident or fraud the bill was paid in counterfeit money. Gentry was grieving about it; but Lincoln said, · Never mind, Allen: it will accidentally slip out of our fingers before we get to New Orleans, and then old Jim can't quarrel at us.' Sure enough, it all went off like hot cakes. I was told this in Indiana by many people about Rockport."-HERNDON. It must be remembered that counterfeit money was the principal currency along the river at this period.
their craft, hastily cut loose and made rapid time down the river, fearing lest they should return in greater numbers to take revenge. The victory was complete; but, in winning it, Abe received a scar which he carried with him to his grave.
"When he was eighteen years old, he conceived the project of building a little boat, and taking the produce of the Lincoln farm down the river to market. He had learned the use of tools, and possessed considerable mechanical talent, as will appear in some other acts of his life. Of the voyage and its results, we have no knowledge; but an incident occurred before starting which he related in later life to his Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, that made a very marked and pleasant impression upon his memory. As he stood at the landing, a steamer approached, coming down the river. At the same time two passengers came to the river's bank who wished to be taken out to the packet with their luggage. Looking among the boats at the landing, they singled out Abraham's, and asked him to scull them to the steamer. This he did; and, after seeing them and their trunks on board, he had the pleasure of receiving upon the bottom of his boat, before he shoved off, a silver half-dollar from each of his passengers. 'I could scarcely believe my eyes,' said Mr. Lincoln, in telling the story. 'You may think it was a very little thing,' continued he, but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely believe that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day. The world seemed wider and fairer to me. I was a more hopeful and confident being from that time.'
If Mr. Lincoln ever made the statement for which Mr. Seward is given as authority, he drew upon his imagination for the facts. He may have sculled passengers to a steamer when he was ferryman for Taylor, but he never made a trip like the one described; never built a boat until he went to Illinois; nor did he ever sell produce on his father's account, for the good reason that his father had none to sell.
1 Holland's Life of Lincoln, p. 33.
BE and Gentry returned from New Orleans some time in June, 1828, having been gone not quite three months. How much longer he remained in the service of Gentry, or whether he remained at all, we are unable to say; but he soon took up his old habits, and began to work around among his neighbors, or for his father, precisely as he had done before he got his partial glimpse of the great world down the river.
In the fall of 1829, Mr. Wood saw him cutting down a large tree in the woods, and whip-sawing it into planks. Abe said the lumber was for a new house his father was about to build; but Tom Lincoln changed his mind before the house was half done, and Abe sold his plank to Josiah Crawford, "the book man," who worked them into the south-east room of his house, where relic-seekers have since cut pieces from them to make canes.
In truth, the continued prevalence of that dreadful disease, the milk-sickness, with which Nancy Hanks and the Sparrows and the Halls had all died, was more than a sufficient reason for a new removal, now in contemplation by Thomas Lincoln. Every member of his family, from the first settlement in Indiana, except perhaps Abe and himself, had suffered with it. The cattle, which, it is true, were of little pecuniary value, and raised with great ease and little cost, were swept away by it in great numbers throughout the whole neighborhood. It was an awful scourge, and common prudence suggested flight. It is wonderful that it took a constitu
tional mover thirteen years to make up his mind to escape from it.1
In the spring of 1830, before the winter had fairly broken up, he and Abe, and Dennis Hanks and Levi Hall, with their respective families, thirteen in all, took the road for Illinois. Dennis and Levi, as already stated, were married to the daughters of Mrs. Lincoln. Hall had one son, and Dennis a considerable family of sons and daughters. Sarah (or Nancy) Lincoln, who had married Aaron Grigsby, was now dead.
John Hanks had gone to the new country from Kentucky in the fall of 1828, and settled near Decatur, whence he wrote Thomas Lincoln all about it, and advised him to come there. Dennis, whether because of the persuasions of John, or some observations made in a flying trip on his own account, was very full of the move, and would hear to no delay. Lincoln sold his farm to Gentry, senior, if, indeed, he had not done so before, and his corn and hogs to Dave Turnham. The corn brought only ten cents a bushel, and, according to the pricelist furnished by Dennis Hanks, the stock must have gone at figures equally mean.
Lincoln took with him to Illinois "some stock-cattle, one horse, one bureau, one table, one clothes-chest, one set of chairs, cooking utensils, clothing," &c. The goods of the three families Hanks, Hall, and Lincoln were loaded on a wagon belonging to Lincoln. This wagon was " ironed," a noticeable fact in those primitive days, and "was positively the first one that he (Lincoln) ever owned." It was drawn by four yoke of oxen, two of them Lincoln's, and two of them Hanks's.
1 “What made Thomas Lincoln leave? The reason is this: we were perplexed by a disease called milk-sick. I myself being the oldest, I was determined to leave, and hunt a country where the milk-sick was not. I married his eldest daughter. I sold out, and they concluded to go with me. Billy, I was tolerably popular at that time, for I had some money. My wife's mother could not think of parting with her, and we ripped up stakes, and started to Illinois, and landed at Decatur. This is the reason for leaving Indiana. I am to blame for it, if any. As for getting more land, this was not the case, for we could have entered ten thousand acres of the best land. When we left, it was on account of the milk. Billy, I had four good milch cows, too, with it in one week, and eleven young calves. This was enough to run me. Besides, liked to have lossed my own life with it. This reason was enough (ain't it?) for leaving.”—DENNIS HANKS.
We have no particulars of the journey, except that Abe held the "gad," and drove the team; that the mud was very deep, that the spring freshets were abroad, and that in crossing the swollen and tumultuous Kaskaskia, the wagon and oxen were nearly swept away. On the first day of March, 1830, after fifteen days' tedious and heavy travel, they arrived at John Hanks's house, four miles north-west of Decatur. Lincoln settled (if any thing he did may be called settling) at a point ten miles west of Decatur. Here John Hanks had cut some logs in 1829, which he now gave to Lincoln to build a house with. With the aid of John, Dennis, Abe, and Hall, a house was erected on a small bluff, on the north bank of the north fork of the Sangamon. Abe and John took the four yoke of oxen and "broke up" fifteen acres of land, and then split rails enough to fence it in.
Abe was now over twenty-one. There was no "Uncle Wood to tell him that his age was against him: " he had done something more than his duty by his father; and, as that worthy was now again placed in a situation where he might do well if he chose, Abe came to the conclusion that it was time for him to begin life on his own account. It must have cost him some pain to leave his good step-mother; but, beyond that, all the old ties were probably broken without a single regret. From the moment he was a free man, foot-loose, able to go where, and to do what, he pleased, his success in those things which lay nearest his heart- that is, public and social preferment - was astonishing to himself, as well as to others.
It is with great pleasure that we dismiss Tom Lincoln, with his family and fortunes, from further consideration in these pages. After Abraham left him, he moved at least three times in search of a "healthy" location, and finally got himself fixed near Goose Nest Prairie, in Coles County, where he died of a disease of the kidneys, in 1851, at the ripe old age of seventy-three. The little farm (forty acres) upon which his days were ended, he had, with his usual improvidence, mortgaged to the School Commissioners for two hundred dollars,—