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Thursday, May 22, 2014 12:01 am

Visit the home of Lincoln’s folks

Travel Lincoln’s path to the Lincoln Log Cabin

A replica of the Thomas Lincoln log cabin, eight miles south of Charleston.


Abraham Lincoln’s legacy is found not just in Springfield but throughout central Illinois, where he practiced law and traveled to many locations, including Coles County. While he was in Coles County, Lincoln was able to occasionally stop by and visit his father, Thomas, and his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, on their farmstead, which was known as the Goosenest Prairie.

Today, eight miles south of Charleston, preserved and operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the 86-acre Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site is a living farmstead, interpretive site and home to a replica of the Thomas Lincoln log cabin, which was built on the original cabin site.

A beautiful visitors center awaits you. It offers a short film and a museum with numerous pioneer and farm displays. Friendly volunteers and staff greet you at the site where two working farmsteads are found here to enjoy – the Thomas Lincoln farm and the Stephen Sargent farm – as well as picnic areas and a short path. In addition, numerous special events are held here regularly, and interpreters re-create farm life as it occurred in the 1840s.

History truly came alive for us while we were recently visiting Lincoln’s Log Cabin one day this spring. Wanting to see inside Lincoln’s cabin which was locked, I had inquired with one of the site volunteers, Ed Dowling, to see if he could unlock the cabin for our viewing. During our short walk to the cabin, we found out that Dowling is a relative of Lincoln.

According to Dowling, “My great-great grandfather, Dennis Hanks, had a daughter, Sarah Hanks, who had married Thomas Dowling.” Dennis Hanks was Abraham Lincoln’s cousin, and so, the rest is history. It was a treat to hear him explain the history of his family tree and information about the site and cabin.

A mile north of the Lincoln Log Cabin is the Moore Home site, which is where Abraham Lincoln stopped by to visit with his stepmother before heading to Washington, D.C. Also, a mile west of the Moore Home is Shiloh Cemetery, the resting spot of both Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln. Visitors will see the original tombstone for Thomas Lincoln as well as the final resting spot for them. A visit to the cemetery is a humbling and rewarding experience, too.

This summer take a trip to Coles County along the historic trail which Abraham Lincoln rode more than 150 years ago. You’ll get a glimpse of the Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln living farmstead, and gain an appreciation of Abraham Lincoln and his family, his travels to this area and his legacy.

History is alive and well in central Illinois.

Walt Zyznieuski is a freelance writer and photographer from Springfield and loves to travel and explore new paths.

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