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Local Lincoln Links

Abraham Lincoln – a born Kentuckian … and 16th President of the United States. In this Et Cetera, we celebrate the bicentennial of his birth with a look at local Lincoln links.

In 1841, Abraham Lincoln arrived by steamboat at the Louisville Wharf with his best friend, Louisvillian Joshua Speed.

Farmington Historic Home For three weeks, Lincoln was a guest at the Speed family’s plantation, now known as the Farmington Historic Home.

It’s believed this may have been the first slave plantation the future president had visited. Nevertheless, the trip had a profound impact on his feelings on the issue … and helped changed the course of history. This by far is the most recognized Louisville Lincoln link.

Grave site of Captain Abraham Lincoln A lesser-known tie to President Lincoln includes the grave of his paternal grandfather and namesake, Captain Abraham Lincoln. Located in eastern Jefferson County, this site contains the ruins of Long Run Baptist Church and its cemetery. It is designated with an historical marker and is maintained as a public shrine.

Captain Abraham Lincoln, a Revolutionary War veteran, once owned the land that includes his gravesite.

According to oral tradition, in 1786 Captain Lincoln was killed there by Native Americans. A young Thomas Lincoln, who would become President Lincolns’s father, witnessed the murder.

As an adult, Tom Lincoln worked as a carpenter and stonemason. Brandenburg, Kentucky’s Doe Run Inn was one of his projects.

An old record book shows a payment made to Tom Lincoln for work on the building.

Ed Hamilton, artist In commemoration of the Lincoln Bicentennial, Louisville sculptor Ed Hamilton is completing a bronze memorial for installation at the Waterfront. At press time, the work is scheduled for unveiling on June 4, 2009.

More facts:

  • President Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 near Hodgenville, Ky., in what was then Hardin County.
  • During his 1841 stay in Louisville, Abraham Lincoln also visited James Speed’s law office downtown, near Fourth Street. (www.migration.ketnucky.gov/kyhs/hmdb/MarkerSearch.aspx?mode=All).
  • Joshua Speed’s brother, James, was Attorney General in President Lincoln’s last cabinet.
  • In 1911 the statue of President Abraham Lincoln that stands in Kentucky’s capitol rotunda was donated by James Breckinridge Speed, Joshua Speed’s nephew. The Louisville businessman and philanthropist, for whom the Speed Art Museum was named, made the gift shortly before his death.
  • Captain Abraham Lincoln is also listed as “Linkhorn” in some official documents.
  • According to Historic Jefferson County (2000), many early settlers in eastern Jefferson County were members of Long Run Baptist Church, including the ancestors of another U.S. President – Harry S. Truman. Long Run Church was destroyed by fire in 1960.
  • Elizabethtown, Ky.
  • Both of Tom Lincoln’s wives were from Hardin County: Nancy Hanks Lincoln (Abraham’s mother) and Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln. Nancy Lincoln died of milk sickness in 1818, at age 34. Abraham Lincoln was only 9 years-old.
  • Records indicate that Tom Lincoln acted as a surveyor, patroller, prison guard and juryman for Hardin County.
  • Tom Lincoln’s contribution to the Lincoln Heritage House, originally called the Hardin Thomas House, was carpentry and cabinet work. The home’s fireplace now stands in The Lincoln Room of the Fort Knox Leaders Club. It was moved to Fort Knox in 1919.
  • Elizabethtown is also home to the Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln Memorial Cabin, a replica of the one in which Johnston lived with her three children prior to her proposal from Tom Lincoln.
  • Mary Todd Lincoln was the first President’s wife to be called the “First Lady.”
  • John Wilkes Booth, the former actor who assassinated President Lincoln, performed in Louisville December 9, 1861 – January 4, 1862. He starred in several shows and received rave reviews from the Louisville Daily Democrat and The Daily Journal. (Source: Lust For Fame: The Stage Career of John Wilkes Booth)
  • The Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail is a scenic driving trail through central Kentucky that highlights historic sites associated with President Abraham Lincoln, his family and friends.
  • The Speed Art Museum has a copy of Abraham Lincoln's life mask in bronze.
  • Kentucky’s Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Closing Ceremony will be held at the State Capitol in Frankfort, February 12, 2010.

The Speed Art Museum is holding two special exhibits in conjunction with the nation-wide celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial, June 28 – September 6, 2009. Visit The Speed’s website for details.

And, click here for details on the Kentucky Life special Lincoln: ‘I, too, am a Kentuckian.'

At its recent annual meeting, the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) honored 23 public broadcasters with awards. Lincoln: I Too Am A Kentuckian was recognized as 2008’s finest biographical documentary.

Program 315
Former Miss America Heather French Henry talks about her new line of pageant attire; we paint the town red with artist/musician Rodney Hatfield; visit St. Matthews' eatery Lotsa Pasta; plus a look at Lincoln in celebration of the president's Bicentennial. (#315)