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.


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    • We’re SO GLAD you checked out this Wonder about Abe Lincoln, Missy! Thanks for exploring the links to Wonders we thought you’d enjoy! :-)

    • Well, happy birthday from all your friends in Wonderopolis, Rithik! We hope you had a WONDERful day! :-)


  2. I have an aquatic frog named Fatty. I really want to have a ratcoon as a pet someday! What would you want to have as a pet?

    • We’re so glad you learned something new about Abraham Lincoln, Rebecca! Thanks for WONDERing with us today. He was a SUPER president with great vision! We’re so happy you visited us! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Caiti! Thanks for telling us about your report– we’re so happy to hear that this Wonder was resourceful! We bet you did a stellar job and we hope you’ll come back to Wonder with us soon! :)

    • You’re so right, Gymnast142! Thanks for sharing your comment and reading our Wonder today! Have a SUPER day! :)

  3. Abraham Lincoln was our 16th president of the United States of America. He lived in Knob Creek farm. But why and how did Lincoln’s little brother die? It was AWESOME!!! keep up the good work!

    • WONDERful, G.L.! We are so glad that you enjoyed this Wonder. It also sounds like you learned a lot. We like your question. Unfortunately, very little is known about Abraham Lincoln’s little brother. Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Where was Abraham Lincoln born?
  • Where did Abraham Lincoln go to school when he was young?
  • What did Abraham Lincoln do when he was a boy?

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Try It Out

If your travels don’t take you to Hodgenville, Kentucky, in the near future, don’t worry. You can learn much more about Abraham Lincoln by exploring the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park online. For example, you can check out a photo gallery or even read about the plants and animals that live in the area.

You can also view a slideshow, watch video clips and play games that will teach you about many different aspects of Lincoln’s life when you visit the National Park Service’s Abraham Lincoln: Great Learner and Great Leader interactive activity. So click on through to dig deeper into the history of America’s 16th president!


Still Wondering

Today’s wonder touches on just the earliest years of Abraham Lincoln’s life. If you want to know more about the rest of his life, visit the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life online exhibit.


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