Abraham Lincoln Birthplace – Hodgenville, Kentucky

I lived in Hodgenville from age 1 through 17, and then again from age 21 through 27.  This town was very appealing in some ways . . . it was small, rural, and relatively quiet.  Having said that,  however,  it was  also a bit too “close-knit”  for my tastes . . . it seemed that everyone always made it a point to know every single thing about absolutely every one.  I have always been something of an introvert, so I never did enjoy that aspect of Hodgenville life.  After I lost family members that had always called  Hodgenville home (my two grandmothers, and 2 each of my aunts and uncles),  I never had any desire to remain or even re-visit the area.

Despite the unassuming air,  (and my admitted antipathy) of this small town, Hodgenville does possess one very significant “claim to fame”.   Abraham Lincoln, our 16th (and some would say greatest) President was born here, specifically at “Sinking Spring Farm” .    As  a child, visiting this site mostly meant picnics, field trips, or Easter egg hunts to me and it didn’t seem at all odd  that I routinely romped through the very woods that Lincoln would have frequented, or that I often dipped my toes into the icy cold water of the family’s spring.  I remember being afraid that I would fall into the spring and not be able to get out.  All of us “local kids” routinely slipped behind the safety barrier and squeezed ourselves into the crevices that we importantly  dubbed “little caves”.   Even after the passage of so many decades, I still vividly remember how slippery those stones inside the spring were, and I am truly amazed that none of us ever did fall right in!

The on-site “Lincoln Memorial” monument houses a cabin said to be the actual birthplace cabin (some experts have said, however, that is  highly unlikely, and I have heard since that the cabin components are authentic, but that they had to be reconstructed from fragmented pieces.  Who knows . . . )   The many steps leading up to the monument are where my graduating class had their photo taken, and it is also where I spent a good bit of time burning off excess energy as a youngster.  I had a lot of fun running up and down all those steps.   As I recall, I could never quite understand why “all the grown-ups” were so pokey going up those steps.  It makes a little more sense to me now.  As you can see in the photo below, there are quite a few of those steps!

If you have an interest in the history of this region, or of this President, I hope you will have an opportunity to visit the site.  In addition to being an important facet of Kentuckiana history, the park is beautiful and a very pleasant day may be enjoyed here.  Across the highway, but still on original Lincoln farmland, is a large, well-groomed picnic area with hiking trails all through the woods behind.

During my years living in Hodgenville, I enjoyed many a sunny day at that picnic area, and many long satisfying hikes through those woods including one very memorable hike involving a very unusual occurrence  . . . I was a young teen, and I had already reached that point during summer break when everything seems boring.  I had decided to spend my day hiking, as I always found that soothing and I love being close to nature.  I had been hiking for about an hour  when I sensed eyes on me.  I wasn’t really alarmed, as I was quite used to spending time alone in the woods and I knew that animals often keep a close eye on intruders within  their environs . . . I was mostly just curious.  I stood still, peering into the deep foliage.  Finally, I spotted a large, dark creature standing tall and still,  staring at me with fascination equal to my own.  To this day,  I have no idea what I saw . . . the closest comparison  I can even think of is something similar to that of  the fabled “Big Foot”, “Sasquatch” or “Yeti”, and while I am not saying that was what I saw, I honestly don’t know what the heck it was.     I’ve seen a good many bears in my life . . . it definitely wasn’t one of those,  I’ve seen just as many  shaggy men . . . it wasn’t one of those either.  There was no zoo in the region, so it could not have been a gorilla, which it really didn’t even resemble.  Who knows!  At any rate, this creature apparently decided I was more alarming than he was, because he took off and that was the last I saw of him.  Having always exhibited an alarming tendency to ignore  self-preservation instincts,  I  immediately did my best to follow.  I was completely unsuccessful in finding my  highly coveted “weird thing”, and I was not at all pleased about it.

Now, I will share a few remembrances  about the town of Hodgenville, which are unrelated to President Lincoln or the Lincoln Park.   As a child, I loved wheeling my baby sister downtown in her stroller.  On my way, I would often stop to  talk with an elderly gentleman by the name of Mr. Mobley whose famous granddaughter, Mary Ann Mobley (an actress and former Miss America)  was married to actor Gary Collins of original “Dark Shadows” fame.  This kind soul would regale my eager ears with all of the details about Hollywood people that his granddaughter had shared with him.   I loved every minute of our visits,  but after satisfying myself that I had scored the “insider’s scoop”,  my sister and I would amble on  so that we could spend my allowance.  Back then, there was still a “five and dime” store (Marcum’s) where a handful of change could score you several toys, and enough candy to make a trip to the dentist imminent.    The fun wasn’t over there, however . . . my paternal (foster)  grandmother (“Mamaw Fan”)  had a tiny restaurant named “Tiny Tavern”  that commanded a good deal of our attention since absolutely anything that we wanted was, to her way of thinking, there expressly for us and no one else.  Heaven help the poor schmuck who actually wanted to buy something that was  likely to be desired by one of the grandchildren.  Looking back, I have to chuckle when I say that even the business owners in town spoiled me . . . one thing I loved to do was to retrieve empty refrigerator boxes, drag them home (I surely looked like an ant carrying a watermelon!!!), and turn them into “tents” to sleep in out in my back yard.   “Old Mr. Hazel” owned the appliance store, and he was really stingy with those boxes for anybody but me.

(above) Photo:  (L) The Lincoln Statue . . . this has stood on the town square as long as I can remember.  I am positive it was in place before I was even born.  I often played on and around it, and can still remember scraping my knee every time I would scramble onto his lap.

Top, Right:  The Hodgenville Court House – this was literally located behind our house (if you don’t count leaping over one fence and racing down a steep hill – aspects that were of no consequence to me, of course).  This is where my first drivers’ license was issued.  I was SO stoked!

Bottom, Right:  The “town square” which hasn’t changed much since my days there.  The church seen on the left side is Hodgenville Christian Church, and is where I was baptized and (stupidly) married for the first time, at age 18.  The building on the right (with the awnings) is now the town museum, but when I was a child, there was a Dollar General Store on the far left, and Marcum’s Five and Dime next to that.

I have not been through Hodgenville for many years, but perhaps, one of these days,  I will visit again.  My little walk down Memory Lane has been more poignant than I expected it to be.

Last modified on: May 23rd 2012.