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72. Dennis Hanks (William H. Herndon Interview).

Charleston Ills Sept 8th 1865 —

(Hon. O. B. Ficklin — and others told me to be careful about what Hanks said)

Dennis Hanks says he is [blank space] years old — Knew Thos Lincoln — Abe & Sister in Ky — think Miss Lincoln went to school in Ky — says that the Lincoln family came from England about 1650 — Two Lincoln's came to Virginia — think on the head waters of the Roanoke — probably in Halifax Co — were not Puritans — were not Quakers — never were in Penn. I opposed Abe in Politics when he became whig — was till 20 years of age a Jackson Democrat — turned whig — or whiggish about 1828 — 9 — think Col Jones made him a whig — dont know it — The two original Lincolns had [blank space] children — (Here I closely & critically Examined Hanks and he confessed he knew nothing — Except as above stated — backed down from his Chicago letter to me. Dennis gets gloriously tight — drinks to hard — is not to be relied on always — ) — think Abe Lincoln's grandfathers name was Mordacai He was born in Virginia about 1740 — Mordecai the grandfather of Abe, had 3 sons — Mordecai — Thos — & Josias — & 2 daughters — Krume married one of them — Abe was born in 1809 on the farm his father sold to [blank space] — the farm is about 4˝ SE of Hodgensville Ky — Hardin Co — or now La Rue. The farm is on Knob Creek — Abe used to go with me down the branch to shoot fish in puddles & holes washed by the water — killed a fawn — Abe was tickled to death — Abe Exhibited no special


traits in Ky, Except a good kind — somewhat wild nature — Thos Lincoln moved to Indiana about 1816 in what was Called Perry Co — now Spencer Co Indiana — moved on 2 horses — not a waggon — Abe rode with his mother & Sally with her father — Lincolns farm in Indiana is about 15 north of the Ohio River — and about 80 miles NW of Hodgensville. The Illinois farm of Thos Lincoln is worth about $1200 — Knew all these farms well — the Ky farm when Thos Lincoln left it contained in cultivated land only six acres running up & down the branch — about 40 feet wide on either side — Hills 300 or 400 feet high — Covered once with heavy timber — some ceder on the Knobs — Shrubs — &c. up the hills sides — Vallys narrow and deep —

When we landed in Indiana in 1817 I think there were lots of bears — deer — turkeys — ate them as meat — water & bread — the Country was full of chestnuts — Pawpaws — wild pea vines — or wild [lusty?] peas &c — Could track bears — wolves — horses — cattle & men for miles through and by the pea vine — would direct People by the tracks thus made when they wanted to find a place to go — got hogs in Ky — took them to Indiana — bears got among them — scared them — swam the Ohio went back to old homes in Ky — Saw them — knew them —: Abe could when 15 years of age or in the year 1824, could hear a Sermon — Speech or remark and repeat it accurately — He would go home from the church say to the boys & girls that he could repeat the Sermon — got on Stumps — logs — fences and do it well and accurately — Old People have heard him do it o'er & o'er again — have told me so — Could do the Same in what he heard and read. Lincoln would frequently make political and other Speeches to the boys — he was calm — logical & clear alwys — He attended trials — went to Court — read the Rev. Statutes of Indiana dated 1824 — Heard law Speeches & listened to law trials &c &c — Lincoln was lazy — a very lazy man — He was always reading — scribbling — writing — Ciphering — writing Poetry &c.&c — He was a head & shoulders above us all — would learn us — set our Copies — The school only taught reading — writing and Ciphering — Ciphered up to single rule of three, never got up to the double rule of three —. Thomas Lincoln Entered the farm in Ills in 1834 — Mortaded it to the School Comms — Abe paid the debt $200 — Thos Lincoln conveyed the farm to Abe reserving in the land a life Estate for him & his wife — and at their death the fee goes to Abe — Abe gave a bond to — Jno D Johnson — saying that if Johnson & his heirs woud on the death of Thos Lincoln & wife and in one year thereafter pay said $200 — that he Lincoln would convey to them — if they would pay interest to L at the rate of 6 per ct from the death of Thos L & wife — deed dated Octr 25th 1841 — Bond or agreement of Abe to Johnson about same date — (see Records in Charleston Ills — Book C.E.G — &c).


To the question put by me to Hanks — "How did Lincoln & yourself learn so much in Indiana under such disadvantages" he replied — "We learned by sight — scent & hearing — We heard all that was said & talked over & over the questions heard — wore them slick — greasy & threadbare — Went to political & other speeches & gathering as you do now — we would hear all sides & opinions — talk them over — discuss them agreeing or disagreeing — Abe as I said before was originally a Democrat after the order of Jackson — so was his father — so we all were — Abe turned whig in 1827 — 8. — He preached Made Speeches — read for us — Explained to us &c — sang from Watts hymns — from Dupay's — . Abe was a cheerful boy — a witty boy — was humorous always — sometimes would get sad — not very often — He would Joke — tell stories — run rigs — &c on the boys — Didn't love the Company of girls — didn't love crowds as a general rule — was a retired boy — & a good listener to his Superiors — bad to his inferiors — that is he Couldn't Endure Jabber — Could good [sense?] while he was learning —

One day a Yankee came round and said to Thomas Lincoln that he could find water on his farm — would do so by a divining rod &c. for the sum of five dollars — Old Man Lincoln couldnt beleive such stuff — Thos Lincoln had dug his hill to find water with a honey Comb as it were — wanted water badly — but said to the Yankee this — "Do you suppose I am going to give you $5 — for a pig in the polk". In Gentryvill about 1 m west of Thomas L's farm Lincoln would go and tell his jokes — stories &c. and he was so odd — original and humorous & witty that all the People in town would gather around him — He would keep them there till midnight or longer telling stories — cracking jokes — & running rigs — &c — . I would get tired — want to go home — cuss Abe — &c. most hearty Lincoln was a great talker — a good reader & was a kind of news boy — Hanks went to Indiana about the time of the 2 marriage in 1819 of Thos Lincoln. Abe was so attatched to reading that we had to buy him — hire him to work — bought him, I think the Columbian Orator or American Preceptor. We were Excellent bow shots — a squirrel couldnt Escape unless he got in his hole and then if Abe took the notion he would pull him or it out of his hole — Abe was born on Knob Creek which runs into the rolling fork — thence into & then into the Ohio River —. Abe made no mark in Ky worthy of being Known: when he left there he was only 7 ys old — The date of the Copy book which you have got or a leaf of which &c — is dated 1824 — one part & the 2d pt 1826 — This book he made in Indiana — I bought the paper — gave it to Abe — Barclay's dictionary is dated 1799


& the family Bible 1818 — Abe used both — his hand writing is in both — in a rough School boy's hand — Hall brought the Dictionary to Indiana in [blank space] & Thos Lincoln brought the Bible in 1818 — or 19 — Lincoln didnt read the Bible half as much as said: he did read it — I thought he nver believed it and think so still —

This I copied from notes taken on the Spot nearly in Hanks own words — copied this the 20th dy of Sept 1865 — in my office in presence of Zane & our Student Johnson read it to him — I say it is correct

On the Copy book of Mr Lincoln — a part of which is given me is this Expression

"Abraham Lincoln is my name
I'll be a good boy — God knows when"

This is in his hand writing and I think I give the Exact words.

W H Herndon

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2301— 8; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:104 — 10



1. William Jones, the Indiana storekeeper for whom AL worked.

2. Probably the interview dated June 13, 1865. See §24.

3. AL's grandfather's name was Abraham.

4. The rule of three is a means of determining the fourth term in a proportion when three terms are given; confusingly, the double rule of three refers to calculation of the missing term when more than three are given.

5. Dennis later sent WHH a copy of this agreement in his letter of March 7, 1866. See §166; cf. CW 1:262 — 63.

6. Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (15th ed., Philadelphia, 1741); Rev. Starke Dupuy, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Original and Selected (Louisville, 1818).

7. "Running rigs" is to tease, banter, or ridicule.

8. Caleb Bingham, comp., The American Preceptor; Being a New Selection of Lessons for Reading and Speaking (1794); idem, The Columbian Orator; Containing a Variety of Original and Selected Pieces; Together with Rules Calculated to Improve Youth and Others in the Ornamental and Useful Art of Eloquence (1797).

9. AL was born on Nolin Creek and moved with his family to the Knob Creek farm at about the age of two.

10. See §24, note 17.

11. An explicit acknowledgment of what was apparently a common practice with WHH, that is, making notes when taking an interview and writing them up sometime later.