88. Anna Caroline Gentry (William H. Herndon interview).
Rockport Ind Septr 17th 1865
My name is Mrs. Gentry — wife of Allen Gentry with whom Mr Lincoln went to NO for Jas Gentry Sen in April 1828 — I knew Mr L well — he and I went to school together — I was 15 ys old — Lincoln about the same age — we went to school to Crawford in 1822 or 3 I think — I used Websters Spelling book — Lincoln the same — One day Crawford put a word to us to Spell: the word to Spell was defied. Crawford said if we did not spell it he would keep us in school all day & night — we all missed the word — Couldn't Spell it. We spelled the word Every way but the right way — . I saw Lincoln at the window: he had his finger On his Eye and a smile on his face. I instantly took the hint that I must change the letter y into an I. Hence I Spelled the word — the class let out. I felt grateful to Lincoln for this Simple thing. Abe was a good — an Excellent boy. Speaking about the boat & the trip let me say to you that I saw the boat — was on it — saw it start and L with it. It started from yonder landing — Gentrys Landing — My husband was Allen Gentry — They went down the Ohio & Mississippi for Jas Gentry Sen — they Came back in June 1828. — flat boat started from Gentrys landing yonder — say 1/2 a mile from this house due South & Å¾ of a M below Rockport. Abe read many books — cant say what they were — regret it — he worked and bought his books generally — fought his own way — When my husband & L went down the river they were attacked by Negroes — Some Say Wade Hamptons Negroes, but I think not: the place was below that called Mdme Bushams Plantation 6 M below Baton Rouche — Abe fought the Negroes — got them off the boat — pretended to have guns — had none — the Negroes had hickory Clubs — my husband said "Lincoln get the guns and Shoot — the Negroes took alarm and left. Abe did not go much with the girls — didn't like crowds — didn't like girls much — too frivalous &c. The Schools we went to taught Spelling — reading — writing and Ciphering to single rule of 3 — no further — . Lincoln got ahead of his masters — Could do him no further good: he went to school no more — Abe was an honest boy — a good boy — all liked him — was friendly — somewhat Sociable — not so much so as we wanted him — Abe was a long — thin — leggy — gawky boy dried up & Shriveled
One Evening Abe & myself were Sitting on the banks of the Ohio or on the boat Spoken of. I Said to Abe that the Moon was going down. He said "Thats not so — it don't really go down: it Seems So. The Earth turns from west to East and the revolution of the Earth Carries us under, as it were: we do the sinking as you call it. The moon as to us is Comparatively still. The moons sinking is only an appearance". I said to Abe — "Abe — what a fool you are." I Know now that I was the fool — not Lincoln. I am now thoroughly Satisfied that Abe Knew the general laws of Astronomy and the movements of the heavenly bodies — He was better read then than the world knows or is likely to Know Exactly — . No man could talk to me that night as he did unless he had Known something of geography as well as astronomy. He often & often Commented or talked to me about what he read — seemed to read it out of the book as he went along — did so to others — he was the learned boy among us unlearned folks — He took great pains to Explain — Could do it so Simply He was diffident then too — only 17 ys of age —
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2362 — 64; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:147 — 49
1. Cf. §76.