62. J. W. Wartmann to William H. Herndon.
Rockport Indiana July 21st 1865.
My Dear Sir,
Since writing you last, it has pleased God to sadly bereave me by taking from me a dear Son — aged over four years. If you are a parent you can readily sympathize with me.
The Court House with all our County records, has been totally destroyed by fire twice within a Space of thirty years. I have taken great pains to get exact dates, but cannot do so. "About" such a time, is as near as I can come at anything.
Before Indiana was admitted into the Union as a State, all this section of our state called the "pocket" — embracing now 10 counties — (the 1st Cong dist), was called Knox Co. and Vincennes was the County seat of the Knox district — or county. Subsequently, this district was divided into Knox & Perry counties. "About" the year 1819 or '20, Spencer Co' was cut off from Perry Co'. "Thompson's
The land lies about 1Ë miles South East of Gentryville. The present owner of the land is James Gentry Senior. The present occupant is Boone Morgan.
Thomas Lincoln was, in addition to being a farmer, a Cabinet Maker and Carpenter. At least, he worked at both these trades while here. Abraham Lincoln, as far as he was able, assisted him.
'Squire John W. Lamar, one of our county Comrs, has a small book case made by Abraham; The "Squire" prizes it highly and says it is a "first rate job."
The 'Squire tells this of "Abe". Old Mr Lamar ('Squires father) was one day going to election — and I (Squire L) was on the horse behind him. We fell in company with an old man named James Larkin — . This man Larkin was a great brag — , always relating some miraculous story or other. While riding along we overtook Abe Lincoln — going to the polls on foot. Old Man Larkin commenced telling Lincoln about the great speed & "bottom" of the mare he was riding.
Why, said Larkin, "Yesterday I run her five miles in four minutes — and She never drew a long breath." I guess — quietly replied Lincoln, She drew a great many Short ones.
Lincoln, is universally spoken of as scrupulously honest, truthful, moral, and industrious. His ready wit and quick retort are generally spoken of.
Before Abraham Lincoln left here — , smarting under an insult offered him by the Grigsby family, he wrote, and placed where the Grigsby's would find them — , "The Chronicles," a poetic effusion abounding in wit and ready "hits." These hits were so palpable and cutting that the Grigsby's suppressed them — , though a few persons saw and read them. They were written in scriptural style and evinced decided talent. Abraham was studious and proverbially industrious. He is said to have litterally never lost a moment from study when he could devote himself to it. Having no slate, pens or pencils handy, he figured all over the smooth parts of some clap-boards in an old barn he used to use, with a pencil made of clay.
There is no doubt but that Abraham Lincoln did make rails for Josiah Crawford. Indeed, there are some yet remaining — , being known by forming the floor of an old barn and "notched" to fit the logs. The two days work pulling fodder for the "Weems' Life of Washington" is also, doubtless true.
Mr N. Grigsby informs me that he received your letter and will do all he can for you. You might get some valuable facts from William Woods, Dale P.O. Spencer Co.'
I will still continue to make inquiries and report any facts of importance.
It is now about 35 years since Mr L left here, and a new generation is come.
The "stories" concerning him are not of record — , but family traditions, and consequently it is almost impossible to fix dates. The grave of Mr L's mother is still unmarked by a head-board — , though known to a certainty.
Mr Lincoln told one of our citizens last winter that he intended visiting Spencer Co' once more before he died — , when his duties would allow it, and of putting a tomb-stone to his mother's grave.
Your Obt Serv't
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2256 — 59; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:171 — 75