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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2019 812 Magazine

Presidential path


At the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, visitors can learn about the 16th president, who grew up in present-day Spencer County.


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Pictured is the relief sculpture of Abraham Lincoln located on the exterior of the Memorial Visitor Center at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City, Indiana. //Courtesy photo

“Land of Lincoln” might be the official slogan of Illinois but Indiana can lay its own claim to the 16th President of the United States. Abraham Lincoln lived in southern Indiana from 1816-1830, from the ages of 7 to 21, on land that eventually became a part of Spencer County.

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The site of Lincoln’s family farm during those years can be found today inside the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, a 200-acre location run by the National Park Service in Lincoln City.

Located there is a memorial building/visitor’s center, featuring a museum, memorial halls, gift shop and a short film about Lincoln’s time in southern Indiana. 

In addition, guests can visit the Lincoln’s cabin site, a replica of the Lincoln farm, and the grave site of Lincoln’s mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln as well as walk the Lincoln Boyhood Trail, including the Trail of Twelve Stones.


“There I grew up.”

“My childhood home I see again

And sadden with the view;

And still, as memory crowds my brain,

There’s pleasure in it too.”

-- Some of Abraham Lincoln’s writings,
currently on the display
at Lincoln boyhood National Memorial


Abraham Lincoln In Indiana

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According to literature provided by the National Park Service and the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial:


In the fall of 1816, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln packed their belongings and their two children, Sarah, 9, and Abraham, 7, and left their Kentucky home bound for the new frontier of southern Indiana.

Abraham Lincoln lived in Indiana for 14 years, from the age of 7 to 21. During that time, he grew physically and mentally. With this hands and his back, he helped carve a farm and home out of the wilderness. With this mind, he began to explore the world of books. He experienced adventure and he came to know deep personal loss. the death of his mother in 1818 and the death of his beloved sister, Sarah, in 1828 left deep emotional scars. But all those experiences helped make him into the man that he became.


In 1830, Thomas Lincoln moved his family to Macon County, Illinois. Abraham, then 21, moved to the village of New Salem.

Honoring a president

Interest in Lincoln’s Indiana roots increased after his death in 1865. In 1917, a marker was placed on what was believed to be the location of the family’s cabin (traces of the cabin could not be found). Later, in 1935, a bronze casting of the cabin sill logs and hearthstones were placed as a memorial. In addition, the Pioneer Cemetery where Nancy Hanks Lincoln is buried was taken over by the State of Indiana in 1907. The location eventually became the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Memorial Park.

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In 1926, the Indiana Lincoln Union was formed to raise funds for a formal Lincoln Memorial. A plaza, with a towering flag pole, was dedicated in 1931. The Trail of Twelve Stones, featuring stones and materials gathered from highlights of Lincoln’s life, and the memorial building were completed in 1943.

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Historical Landmark

The Lincoln Boyhood Home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial was established Feb. 19, 1962.  


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Legislation that would transfer ownership of the then-Nancy Hanks Lincoln Memorial Park from the state of Indiana to the federal government was introduced by Senator Vance Hartke and Congressman Winfield K. Denton. The proposal included the donation of 200 acres containing the cabin site, the grave site of Nancy Hanks Lincoln and the memorial building.

President John F. Kennedy signed the legislation. 

Interested in a visit?

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The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is located at 3027 East South St., Lincoln City, Indiana 47552. It is located five miles west of Santa Claus and seven miles south of Interstate 64.

The memorial, which is in the Central Time Zone, is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Memorial Visitor Center currently is open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. throughout the summer. 

For more information, call (812) 937-4541 or visit www.nps.gov/libo.