30. John B. Helm to William H. Herndon.
Hannibal Missouri 20th June 1865
In answer to yours requesting information of the early days of Hon A. Lincoln, I will say that I have written to three old friends for specific information and expect answers when these answers arive you shall hear from me again — Many persons knowing that I knew Mr Lincoln in his boyhood have verbally and by letter made enquiries Similar to yours and I have generally replied to them in about this stile
Let no man object to Abraham Lincoln because of his lowly birth — The Saviour of Mankind was born in a manger and his lineage miraculous and otherwise of lowly birth So of A Lincoln the great man of destiny of these United States — He was born about [blank space] in Hardin County Kentucky, in an obscure back settlement of Cain brake society in a hunters hut not fit to be called a house, — descended from parents the most humble and obscure in this humble class of people — his father made his living by labour and hunting till game became scarce — he then settled at Elizabethtown the county seat of the county — His father being a day labourer and without education — looked upon bone and mussel sufficient to make the man and, that time spent in school as doubly wasted also his poverty would otherwise have prevented him from sending his boy to School And add to this A. Lincoln's father was not a thrifty man of his class. about 1816 he was living with a Miss [blank space] Bush who has been sometimes called his step mother. This Miss _____ Bush about that time sold an interest in a tract of land she had inherited to my uncle for whom I was keeping store for about thirteen hundred dollars her part, She being very poor and needing every thing she dealt much of it out but the remainder she drew in money and afterwards left the country A. Lincoln was called A. Bush then it was during the time that his Step mother or adopted mother was dealing out this land contract in my uncles store I became acquainted with A. Lincoln then a small boy, that would come to the store with his mother.
A. Lincoln is emphatically a man of destiny — a self made man and — the founder of his family and name — He was as you and every body else knows a good and great man notwithstanding his lowly origin — This is I think enough to know of him in history — His mother was a Miss _______ Hanks whether she was his fathers wife or not, or what became of her there are so many conflicting stories. — I can give no information — nor do I think they should go into history if I did know — She was very obscure and was not of noble blood — The
49answers to the letters I shall receive will be clear on this point and will be communicated to you
He was about ten years younger than myself — I am 67 — I very much doubt whether any family record shows or ever did show his age —
John B. Helm.
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2193 — 94; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:29 — 32