Wednesday, February 12, 2014



Hodgenville, Kentucky (JFK+50) The sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was born in a log cabin here in Hodgenville 205 years ago today, February 12, 1809.

Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr.,* a history professor at Virginia Tech University, often began his lecture on Lincoln with some of the outlandish comments made about our 16th president. 

Here is my favorite.

"Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands."

Lincoln was born in a log cabin located on Sinking Spring Farm on Nolin Creek near Hodgenville.

His parents were Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln who married on June 12, 1806.  

Abraham was the 1st son and 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.

               "The Symbolic Log Cabin"
                      Abraham Lincoln
        National Birthplace Historic Site
                 Hodgenville, Kentucky
                             NPS Photo

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 Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1909 and which William Howard Taft dedicated in 1911.

Lincoln Birthplace Memorial
Hodgenville, Kentucky
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 Alfred Dennett.

At the turn of the century, the logs were stored on Long Island and 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 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" and most sources describe it as a replica.

*Dr. James I. "Bud" Robertson, Jr. was born in Danville, Virginia in 1930.  He earned his degrees at Randolph-Macon College and Emory University.  

Dr. Robertson, the author of 18 books and winner of 8 national awards, worked on the planning of JFK's funeral in November 1963.  He also served as the Executive Director of the Civil War Centennial Commission.

Dr. James I. Robertson
Lexington, Virginia
Photo by Hal Jespersen, 2007


"The Guide to Lincoln Trail," Souvenir Edition, News Publications Inc, Springfield, Illinois, 1970.

"The World Book Encyclopedia," Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1967.