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25. John Hanks to William H. Herndon (interview).

Chicago — Sanitary fair — June 13th 1865 —

Dear Sir.

You have asked me some questions in your letter dated the ___ which I duly received.

My Cousin Dennis Hanks has told you all he knew & I could but repeat the same thing to you. What I shall say shall be short. I first became acquainted with "Abe" Lincoln when he was 14 years of age his father — & his family were then living in Indiana — Spencer Co about 17 miles from the Ohio river. I lived with Thos Lincoln four years in Indiana working on the farm My Cousin has said Abraham was farming — grubbing — hoeing — making fences &c.: he went to school but little whilst I was there — say one or two months & his father has offten told me he had not gone to school one year in all his life. He read the life of Washington — Histories — some poetry, — all he could get & learned the most of it by heart quickly & well & alwys remembering it. He often for amusement for his play fellows — neighbors & friends made quite good stump speeches when between the age of 15 & 20. I went to Indiana in 1823 and left ther after my four years were out and went back to Kentucky & stayed there till 1828 — when I moved to Macon Co Ills preseding Thomas Lincoln & his family. Thomas Lincoln moved to Macon Co in 1830. when the little Cabbin was built: it was built in March 1830. This I am sure of. The ground was broken up 1830 — the same year — the 10 acre tract has been Spoken of by my Cousin Dennis. I and Abe went down the Sangamon River from Decatur to Springfield in a canoe. The spring we


went down the River was the spring after the deep snow. Lincoln went into Sangamon Co in 1831. We went from Springfield — to the mouth of Spring Creek where it Empties into the Sangamon River and there we cut & cared — & hewed timber to frame a flat boat — 80 feet long & 18 feet wide. The timbers were floated down to Sangamon town on a raft. The timbers were taken out of the Sangamon River — framed & put together at that place. The boat was then 1831. & there built. We Camped in a Camp on the Sangamon River — done our own Cooking — mending & washing. Lincoln boarded awhile with Carman. I don't think he ever worked for Kirkpatrick at that time, for he was continually and busily Engaged on the boat. David Offutt was our Employer and it was for him we worked, getting about $16 — or $20 pr mo. The boat was loaded, for I saw it loaded with bacon — pork — Corn & live hogs. We proceeded on the lst of May down the Sangamon River & landed for a short time at New Salem now in Menard Co. Ills. The boat got on the mill dam and was fast. We got a small ferry boat & partly unloaded — got over the dam — reloaded & proceeded down the river — Abe — his step brother — Johnston & myself doing the navigating of the boat — feeding the hogs &c — We got near the mouth of Salt Creek and it was there that the pigs got their Eyes sewed up by Offutts men. Abe did not do this — Abe was fixing. Abe said I Can't sew the Eyes up, He held the head of hogs whilst Offutt did so up their Eyes — Lincoln did bore a hole in the bottom of one End of the boat, for the water to run out which it did — It did so in this way By putting out Pork — corn & one one of the boat sprang upwards — so that End did not touch the water way below the dam € and a foot or two below the boat. When the other End was lightened the heavy End Sank, but did not reach the water or dam — The water in the other End of the boat ran down hill according to him and did run out at the hole bored by Abe this I saw — After the hogs a new & additional lot were put in the at or near the mouth of Salt Creek where it Empties into the Sangamon River we then proceeded down the Sangamon — got into the Ills — passed Beardstown — Alton St Louis &c. we landed in New Orleans — in the year 1831. We both Came back to St Louis from New Orleans together, Johnston being with us from Decatur to New Orleans, and back with us. There can be and is no mistake in these facts or the time when they took place. We walked from St Louis out to Edwards afoot and there the Roads parted, he taking the Charleston — Coles Co road & I the Decatur Road — both afoot all the way. The next time I saw him he was at Dixon on Rock River — called Dixons ferry in the year 1832 — month of May. He was the Capt of a Company from Menard Co — then Sangamon. This was a few days before the Stillman defeat on Sycamore Creek — about 30 miles from Dixons ferry — North east from there — Abe Lincoln footed it from Beardstown in 1832 coming from the Black Hawk war and not as we went down the River to New Orleans. Thomas Lincoln moved to Coles


Co in 1831. The next time I saw Abraham was in in the City of Springfield in the year about 1833 & 4; but was residing in Menard Co at that time — I never had a flat boat trip with Abe before nor since the one told you — have been often to New Orleans I was down the River when Negroes tried to Rob Lincoln's boat — did not see it. Abe Lincoln did Carry a drunken man home one night to keep him from freezing — but my Cousin did not know this & hence did not state it. The man I think his name was Carter told me Abe did — Abe told me — Abes father told me.and all this is good evidence enough. Carter told me Abe was right good & clever to pack him to the fire.

Abrm was after the black Hawk war a Candidate of the legislature — in 1832 — 34 — 36 — I saw him some time after this pleading law at Decatur.

John Hanks (x) his mark

W H Herndon

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2184 — 88; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:158 — 62



1. Written out by WHH in the form of a letter and signed by Hanks.

2. According to AL's account: "Hanks, having a family, and being likely to be detained from home longer than at first expected, had turned back from St. Louis" (CW 4:63 — 64).

3. A reference to an incident on AL's 1828 flatboat trip to New Orleans from Indiana with Allen Gentry. See §78, 88.