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The present subject has no brother or sister of the whole or half blood ; he had a sister, older than himself, who was grown and married, but died many years ago, leaving no child ; also a brother, younger than himself, who died in infancy. Before leaving Kentucky, he and his sister were sent, for short periods, to A-B-C schools; the first, kept by Zachariah Riney, and the second by Caleb Hazel. At this time his father resided on Knob creek, on the road from Beardstown, Ky., to Nashville, Tenn., at a point three or three and a half miles south or southwest of Atherton ferry, on the Rolling Fork. From this place he removed to what is now Spencer county, Indiana, in the autumn of 1816, Abraham then being in his eighth year. This removal was partly on account of slavery, but chiefly on account of the difficulty in land-titles in Kentucky. he settled in an unbroken forest, and the clearing away of the surplus wood was the great task ahead. Abraham, though very young, was large of his age, and had an axe put into his hands at once, and from that time till within his twenty-third year, he was almost constantly handling that most useful instrument, less, of course, in ploughing and harvesting seasons. At this place Abraham took an early start as a hunter, which was never much improved afterward. A few days before the completion of his eighth year, in the absence of his father, a flock of wild turkeys approached the log-cabin, and Abraham with a rifle-gun, standing inside, shot through a crack and killed one of them. He has never since pulled a trigger on any larger game. In the autumn of 1818, his mother died, and a year afterward his father married Mrs. Sally Johnston, at Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a widow with three children of her first marriage. She proved a good and kind mother to Abraham, and is still living in Coles county, Illinois. There were no children of this second marriage. His father's residence continued at the same place, in Indiana, till 1830.
While here, Abraham went to A-B-C schools, kept successively by Andrew Crawford, Sweeny, and Azel W. Dorsey, he does not remember any other. The family of Mr. Dorsey now reside in Schuyler county, Illinois. Mr. Lincoln now thinks the aggregate of all his schooling did not amount to one year. He was never in a college or academy as a student, and never inside a college or academy till since he had a law-license. What he has in the way of education he has picked up. After he was twentythree, and had separated from his father, he studied English grammar, imperfectly, of course, but so as to speak and write as well as he now does. He studied, and nearly mastered, the six books of Euclid since he was a member of Congress. He regrets his limited means of education, and does what he can to supply the want of early opportunities.
When he was nineteen, still residing in Indiana, he made his first trip upon a flatboat to New Orleans. He was a hired hand, merely, and he and a son of the owner, without other assistance, made the trip. The nature of part of the cargo-load, as it was called, made it necessary for them to linger and trade along the sugar coast, and one night they were attacked by seven negroes with intent to kill and rob them. They were hurt some in the melee, but succeeded in driving the negroes from the boat, and then “ weighed anchor” and left.
March 1st, 1830, young Lincoln having just completed his 21st year, his father and family, with the families of the two daughters and sons-in-law of his stepmother, left the old homestead in Indiana and came to Illinois ; their mode of conveyance were wagons drawn by ox teams. They reached the county of Macon, and stopped there some time. Within the same month of March his father and family settled a new place on the north side of the Sangamon river, at the junction of the timberland and prairie, about ten miles westerly from Decatur; here they built a log-cabin, into which they removed, and made enough rails to fence ten acres of ground, fenced and broke the ground, and raised a crop of sod corn upon it the same year.
These are, or are supposed to be, the rails about which so much is being said just now, though they are far from being the first or only rails ever made by him. The sonsin-law were temporarily settled at other places in the county. In the autumn all hands were greatly afflicted with ague and fever, to which they had not been used, and by which they were greatly discouraged, so much so that they determined on leaving the county. They remained, however, through the succeeding winter, which was the winter of the very celebrated “deep snow” of Illinois. During that winter young Lincoln, together with his step-mother's son, John D. Johnston, and John Hanks, yet residing in Macon county, hired themselves to one Denton Offult to take a flat-boat from Beardstown, Illinois, to New Orleans, and for that purpose were to join him--Offult-at Springfield, Illinois, as soon as the snow should go off ; when it did go off, which was about the 1st of March, 1831, the country was so flooded as to make travelling by land impracticable ; to obviate which difficulty they purchased a large canoe, and came down the Sangamon river in it. This is the time and manner of Lincoln's first entrance into Sangamon county. They found Offult at Springfield, but learned from him that he had failed in getting a boat; this led to their hiring themselves to him at $12 per month, each, and getting the timber out of the trees, and building a boat, at old Sangamon town, on the Sangamon river, seven miles northwest of Springfield, which boat they took to New Orleans substantially on the old contract. During this boat enterprise and acquaintance with Offult, who was previously an entire stranger, Offult conceived a liking for Lincoln, and believing he could turn him to account, he contracted with him to act as clerk for him on his return from New Orleans in charge of a store and mill at New-Salem, then in Sangamon, now in Menard county. Hanks had not gone to NewOrleans, but having a family, and being likely to be detained from home longer than at first expected, had turned back from St. Louis ; he is the same John Hanks who now engineers the “Rail Enterprise" at Decatur, and is a first cousin to Abraham's mother, Abraham's father, with his own family and others mentioned, had, in pursuance of their intention, removed from Macon to Coles county. Jno. D. Johnston, the step-mother's son, went to them, and Lincoln stopped indefinitely, and for the first time by himself, at New-Salem, before mentioned. This was in July, 1831. Here he rapidly made acquaintances and friends. In less than a year Offult's business was falling off—had almost failed. When the Black-Hawk war of 1832 broke out, young Lincoln joined a volunteer company, and to his own surprise was elected captain of it. He says he has not since had any success in life which gave him so much satisfaction. He went through the campaign ; served near three months ; met the ordinary hardships of such an expedition, but was in no battle. He now owns in Iowa the land upon which his own warrants for this service were located.
Returning from the campaign, and encouraged by his great popularity among his immediate neighbors, he the same year ran for the legislature and was beaten, his own precinct, however, casting its votes 277 for, and 7 against him, and this, too, when he was avowed Clay man, and the precinct the autumn afterward, giving a majority of 115 for General Jackson, over Mr. Clay. This was the only time Lincoln was ever beaten in a direct vote of the people. He was now without means and out of business, but was anxious to remain with his friends, who had treated him with so much generosity. It was some time before he decided upon a profession—first, a trade, then a farmer, then the law—the latter would have been his choice at that time, but for his limited education. Before long, strangely enough, a man offered to sell, and did sell to him, and another as poor as himself, an old stock of goods upon credit. They opened as merchants, and he says that was THE store. Of course they did nothing but get deeper and deeper in debt.