February 12 marks the birthday of America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Although he eventually became a lawyer and a politician, rising to the highest elected office in this country, he began life in the humblest of surroundings in rural Kentucky.
On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm, which is located on Nolin Creek about three miles south of Hodgenville, Kentucky. He was the second child of Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His sister Sarah was 2 years old when Abraham was born.
In 1811, the Lincoln family moved 10 miles away to Knob Creek Farm, where they lived from the time Abraham was 2 and a half until he was almost 8 years old. It was there that he learned to talk and soon grew big enough to run errands, such as carrying water and gathering wood.
“My earliest recollection is of the Knob Creek place,” Lincoln would write many years later. He was known to tell a childhood story about helping plant a garden with Sarah. They planted pumpkin seeds and corn. It rained hard the next night. The creek flooded and washed away what they had planted.
In Kentucky, Abraham and Sarah occasionally attended “subscription” schools that only lasted a few months. Their parents had to pay a fee for them to attend these schools, since free schools were not available in Kentucky until the 1830s. From the Knob Creek Farm, they had to walk two miles to attend school!
As a young boy in Knob Creek, Lincoln enjoyed fishing in the stream and picking berries in the hills. When he was 7 years old, he shot a wild turkey. He felt bad about it and never went hunting again.
After he became president of the United States, Lincoln fondly recalled his memories of his childhood at Knob Creek — the old homestead, how he sat at his mother’s side as she read the Bible, the baby brother who was born and died on the farm. It was also at Knob Creek where Abraham first saw African-Americans moved south along the old Cumberland Road to be sold as slaves.