February 12, 2013
LINCOLN WAS BORN IN A LOG CABIN HE BUILT WITH HIS OWN HANDS
Hodgenville, Kentucky (JFK+50) Civil War & Lincoln scholar Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr.* often began his lecture on Abraham Lincoln with some of the outlandish comments made about our 16th president, this being one....
"Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands."
*James I. Robertson, Jr. served as Executive Director of the Civil War Centennial Commission. He is currently a professor at Virginia Tech.
Today JFK+50 honors the 204th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln who served from March 4, 1861 to April 15, 1865.
Lincoln was indeed born in a log cabin located on Sinking Spring Farm on Nolin Creek near Hodgenville, Kentucky on February 12, 1809.
His parents were Thomas Lincoln & Nancy Hanks Lincoln who married on June 12, 1806.
Abraham was the 1st son & 2nd child following sister Sarah.
A third Lincoln child, Thomas, died in infancy.
The Lincoln farm, a few miles south of Hodgen's Mill, was purchased for $200.
While the Lincolns are often described as poor, their economic status was in line with most of their neighbors.
Now back to the log cabin.
"The Symbolic Log Cabin"
National Birthplace Historic Site
If you visit the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, you will see the "Symbolic Log Cabin" in which Lincoln was born.
The log cabin is located in a memorial building for which President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1909 & which President William Howard Taft dedicated in 1911.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Memorial
Photo by Jamie (2008)
The log cabin inside, however, was not always deemed "symbolic." In fact, it was thought to be made out of original logs that had been part of the actual cabin in which Lincoln was born.
According to Richard West Sellars, the logs have been traced to a cabin from a nearby farm that was purchased in the 1890s by one Alfred Dennett.
At the turn of the century, the logs were stored on Long Island & were eventually purchased by the Lincoln Farm Association to construct the cabin at the Lincoln birthplace in Kentucky.
The LFA did not know, however, that these particular logs were not part of the original Lincoln cabin.
In 2004, the NPS sponsored a tree ring analysis by experts at my alma mater, the University of Tennessee. The results proved that the "Lincoln Logs" date back only as far as 1848.
The NPS, thus, identifies the log cabin as "symbolic" & most sources describe it as a replica.
"The Guide to Lincoln Trail," Souvenir Edition, News Publications Inc, Springfield, Illinois, 1970.
"The World Book Encyclopedia," Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1967.