82. Elizabeth Crawford (William H. Herndon Interview).
Sept 16th 1865
I went to Josiah Crawfords — the book man — not the School teacher as represented. The School teacher was a different man — landed there about 11. o'c AM — hitched my horse — Nat Grigsby with me, as he went all the rounds with me & to all places and was present at all interviews & conversations. Mrs Crawford was absent — at a sons house, distant about Å¾ m attending to her sick grand child. I called for dinner. Mrs Crawfords daughter got us a good dinner — Sent for Mrs Crawford — her daughter rather would send for her. Before Mrs Crawford Came I looked over the "Library" — counted the Vols. There were 2 Bibles, 4 Hymn books — Grahams History of the U.S. abridged — , "Great events of America" — "Pioneers: of the New world" — a Testament — "Grace Truman" "Websters Dictionary" — a small one — Some News papers — mostly Religious. There was 12 or 15 books in all — Mrs Crawford Came — is aged about 59 ys — She is good looking — is a lady at first blush — is Easily approached quite talkative — free — and generous. She Knew Abm Lincoln well. "My husband is dead — died May 1865. Abm was nearly grown when he left Indiana. Abe worked for my husband — daubed our Cabin in 1824 or 5 in which we lived — The second work he did for us was work done for the injured book — Weems life of Washington — Lincoln in 1829 borrowed this book and by accident got it wet. L came & told honestly & Exactly how it was done — the story of which is often told. My husband said "Abe — as long as it is you — you may finish the book and keep it". Abe pulled fodder a day or two for it. We brought the book from Ky. Abe worked in the field yonder — north of the house. Our house was there the same little log cabin which Abe had "daubed": it was made of round logs "unhewn & unbarked" The old Cabin, which Stood here by this Cotton wood tree, was pulled down and this new one Erected there. We had cleared about 18 acres of land when Abe first worked for us. Abe made rails for us. Our first house was about 15 square — one room — low Thomas Lincoln made my furniture — Some of it was sold at my husbands admr Sale. Thomas Lincoln was at my house
frequently — almost Every week — Sarah Lincoln Abe's Sister worked for me: She was a good, kind, amiable girl, resembling Abe. The Lincoln family were good people — good neighbors — : they were honest & hospitable and very — very sociable. We moved to Indiana in 1824 — Came from Ky. I Knew as a matter of Course Sarah & Sally Lincoln very well. and I say to you that she was a gentle, Kind, smart — shrewd — social, intelligent woman — She was quick & strong minded: She had no Education, Except what She gathered up herself. I Speak more of what she was by nature than by culture. I never was a politician in all my life, but when such men ran as Abe Lincoln — as in 1860 I as it were took the Stump: he was the noblest specimen of man I Ever saw. Gentryville lies 4 m from here NW. Abe worked for us at various times at 25c per day — worked hard & faithful and when he missed time would not charge for it. I took some of the rails which Abe cut and Split for us and had Canes made from them. They were white oak — cut from this Stump here — some one got into my house and Stole my
Can't say what books Abe read, but I have a book called "The Kentucky Preceptor", which we brought from Ky and in which & from which Abe learned his school orations, Speeches & pieces to recite. School Exhibitions used to be the order of the day — not as now however. Abe attended them — Spoke & acted his part — always well free from rant & swell: he was a modest and Sensitive lad — never coming where he was not wanted: he was gentle, tender and Kind. Abe was a moral & a model boy, and while other boys were out hooking water melons & trifling away their time, he was studying his books — thinking and reflecting. Abe used to visit the sick boys & girls of his acquaintance. When he worked for us he read all our books — would sit up late in the night — kindle up the fire — read by it — cipher by it. We had a broad wooden shovel on which Abe would work out his sums — wipe off and repeat till it got too black for more: then he would scrape and wash off. and repeat again and again — rose Early. went to work — Come to Dinner — Sit down and read — joke — tell Stories &c. &c — Here is my husbands likeness — you need not look at mine. My husband was a substantial Man (and I say a cruel hard husband, Judging from his looks — ). Sarah Lincoln was a strong healthy woman — was Cool — not Excitable — truthful — do to tie to — Shy Shrinking. Thomas Lincoln was blind in one Eye and the other was weak — so he felt his way in the work much of the time: his sense of touch was Keen — Abe did wear buck Skin pants — Coon Skin — opossum skin Caps. Abe ciphered with a coal or with red Keel got from the branches: he smoothed and planed boards — wrote on them — ciphered on them. I have seen this over and over again. Abe was Sometimes Sad — not often — he was reflective — was witty & humorous.
Abe Lincoln was one day bothering the girls — his sister & others playing yonder and his Sister Scolded him — Saying Abe you ought to be ashamed of
yourself — what do you Expect will become of you "Be Presdt of the U.S," promptly responded Abe. Abe wrote a good Composition — wrote prose and poetry. He wrote 3 or 4 Satires — one was Called the Book of Chronicles. He said that he would be Presdt of the US told my husband so often — Said it jokingly — yet with a Smack of deep Earnestness in his Eye & tone: he Evidently had an idea — a feeling in 1828 that he was bound to be a great man — No doubt that in his boyish days he dreamed it would be so. Abe was ambitious — sought to outstrip and override others. This I Confess.
One of Abes pieces — the Book of Chronicles — ran about thus —
"I will tell you a joke about [Josiah?] & Mary
Tis neither a joke nor a story
For Reuben & Charles have married 2 Girls
But Billy has married a boy
He tried — (Mrs Crawford blushed)
The girls on Every Side
He had well tried
None could he get to agree
All was in vain
He went home again
And since that he's married to Natty
I don't pretend to give the Exact words — nor its rhyme — nor metre now — will think it over — recall it and write to you in Ills. The Poem is Smutty and I can't tell it to you — will tell it to my daughter in law: she will tell her husband and he shall send it to you.
I left Mrs Crawford about 3 o'cl. P.M. Before leaving She gave me the American Preceptor and a cane made from one of Abes rails — for both of which I thanked her: I really felt proud of the gift and felt a gratitude for them — Mrs Crawford is a Lady of the Ky Stamp —
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2338, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2340 — 41, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2343, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2342, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2346; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:134 — 39
1. Andrew Crawford.
2. James Grahame, The History of the United States of North America, from the Plantation of the British Colonies Till Their Revolt and Declaration of Independence (1836); probably Francis Lieber, comp., Great Events, Described by Distinguished Historians, Chroniclers and Other Writers (1840); possibly Joseph Banvard, Novelties of the New World, or the Adventures and Discoveries of the First Explorers of North America (1850); Sallie Rochester Ford, Grace Truman (1857); Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).
3. See §71, note 16.
4. The Kentucky Preceptor, Containing a Number of Useful Lessons for Reading and Speaking (1812).
5. Probably AL's stepmother rather than his sister.
6. Red ochre, used for marking purposes.