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50. Samuel Haycraft to William H. Herndon.

Elizabeth Town Kentucky [June 1865]

Dear Sir

Yours of 10. Ins Came to hand in due time. but it was at the Commencement of a 3 weeks term of the Hardin Circuit Court (of which I am Clerk) press of business has therefore prevented an earlier answer. I am really anxious to see a Correct History of the life of our late President, who was truly one of natures great men

In the years 1805. 1806. 1807. & 1808. I was intimately (though a boy) intimately acquainted with Thomas Lincoln father of Abraham Lincoln. Thomas Lincoln then called Linkhorn (but it was always spelled Lincoln) was a house Carpenter by trade done the joiners work on my fathers house — & the entire joiners work on the house of Hardin Thomas 2 miles out the work still exists to show for itself. He was an uneducated man. a plain unpretending plodding man attended to his work, peaceable good and good natured, He was a square stout built man of only ordinary height. He married a Miss Nancy Hanks in one of the years above named. say 1807 She was a woman of rather low stature but heavy & well set. and has many relatives now living in this County. of the Young family her mother was a "Young" Some time in 1808. Thomas Lincoln moved to Nolin Creek at a place between Jos. Kirkpatricks & Hodgenville then Hodgens Mill (the house now gone) on the 12th day of February 1809 Abraham Lincoln was born, (he had an older sister born in Elizabeth Town before removing to Nolin) — Shortly after Thomas Lincoln moved about miles off to a cabin on the head of Knob Creek, Abraham Lincoln wrote to me that his first recollections were of Knob Creek residence. He must have resided there several years, as it was from that place that young Abraham Commenced trugging his way to school to Caleb Hazle — with whom I was well acquainted & could perhaps teach spelling reading & indifferent writing & perhaps could Cipher to the rule of three — but had no other qualications of a teacher except large size & bodily Strength to thrash any boy or youth that came to his School, and as Caleb lived in a hazle nut switch country, no doubt but that young Abraham received his due allowances — The house in which Thomas Lincoln lived in Elizabeth Town is yet standing but has been removed three times — used twice as a slaughter house & now as a stable & within fifty yards of its original locality, about 14 feet square

I think that Thomas Lincoln moved to Grayson County Kentucky, before he went to Indiana & afterwards to Illinois. To all human appearance the early life of Abraham Lincoln was as unpromising for becoming a great man as you could imagine, indeed I would say it was forbidding, and proves to me that nature bestowed upon him an irrepressible will and innate greatness of mind, to enable to break through all those barriers & iron gates and reach the portion he did in life


Thomas Lincoln the father lost his wife in Indiana, he came on a flying trip to Kentucky to see a widow lady named Sally Johnson (her maiden name was Bush) a poor woman but of spotless character her 1st. husband Daniel Johnson died in April 1814 of the cold plague, as was called I issued the license (being then Clerk) and they were married on the 2d day of December 1819. Abraham then was a little more than 10 years old and of course his early training was under this good woman, for I knew her well. she was scarce a half mile from myself & I know she was a good woman & when a girl her mother thought she was too proud, simply because the poor girl tried to make herself look decent & keep in the fashion of that early day — As soon as Abraham began to prosper in the world. he remembered his father & Step Mother, bought & presented to them the farm on which Thomas Lincoln died. The widow now upwards of 80, lives with Isaac Hall her son in law in Efngham Co Illinois 8. miles from Charleston & 18 from Mattoon. These last facts I have from my Townsman Isaac Radly Esqr who saw her about 3 weeks ago —

Some of the facts I give are from my own knowledge & the balance from letters from Abraham Lincoln himself — He wrote me five letters in 1860 — one of them after his election.

Although I have written a long letter. I feel conscious that it affords but a meagre account of that great & good man our late President.

I was opposed to his election, but before his death I was Convinced that he was the very man for the place. and look upon his assassination as wicked beyond description & one of the greatest calamities that could befall the nation & particularly the South. I always was a Union man. a proslavery man — & wanted all things restored as they were at the Commencement of the war, but the South made the abolition of slavery a necessity & I am now willing for the Constitutional Amendment — It may be called fanaticism in me but it looks to me as if the Lord had raised up A Lincoln for the special purpose of blotting out Slavery, that God had permitted Slavery to exist too long. to Christianize Africans & then let them go free.

This letter is private & not to be used in publication, but the facts such as they are are at your disposal.

I fear my hand writing will puzzle you. I will be 70 years old 14. of Aug. if I live to see it, & age must account for this scrawl

Respectfully Yours
Samuel Haycraft

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2266 — 67; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:33 — 37



1. Some members of the Hanks and Young families did intermarry, which probably formed the basis of Haycraft's recollection. See the appendix.

2. See AL to Haycraft, June 4, 1860, CW 4:70.

3. See CW 4:56 — 57, 69 — 70, 97, 99, 139.