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270. Caleb Carman (William H. Herndon Interview).

Petersburg Octr 12th 1866

Caleb Carman

— aged 62 — Knew Lincoln well — first knew him in Sangamon Town — 7 M North west of the city of Spgfd. Saw Abe work a flat boat — Broadwell sawed the lumber with an up right Saw — Steam Mill — There was no whip sawing of the boat plank — : it was sawed in a mill — Abe — long — tall & green — Cloathed in light blue Jeans — Coat & pants — round about Coat — Short one — trowsers short — not Strapt down. hat broad brim low wool hat. — Shoes. He was funny — joky — humorous — full of yarns — stories — rigs. &c — : he was frequently quoting poetry — reciting prose like orations — : had a Kind of Shantee — down on or near the river — Abe cooked — played seven up in the Camp after dark — Abe played a good game: he worked with the hands — Offutt — John Hanks & Jno Johnson were with Abe — they worked too — building the boat about Six weeks — Knew Abe in 1831 — . I was in the Indian war of 1828. or 9 — Abe was not out then — wasn't out in the Black Hawk war — Know no Evil — no wrong — no meanness — Am a democrat — opposed to Lincoln in politics, bitterly So — but loved the Man. Never saw him under the influence of liquor — took his dram with me when he felt like it — not often — His conduct to women & children was Kind and Condesending — I saw Abe at a show one night at Sangamon town — up stairs at my uncles — Jacob Carman: the Showman Cooked Eggs in Abes hat — Abe, when the man called for the hat Said — "Mr the reason why I didn't give you my hat before was out of respect to your Eggs — not care for my hat." Lincoln boarded with me one or two years at New Salem — Abe was boarding with me when he went to the Legislature in 1834: he was — P.M — not deputy — went from Springfield in Carriage — don't think he ever walked to Spgfd to borrow Law Book: he lived at my house when he studied law first — as I understand it: he never intended to learn the black smith trade: this story I know to be a humbug: he surveyed in 1834 — surveyed Petersburg — boarded then with me — : he merchandised in N. Salem before I got there — He Kept grocery too before I got down from Sangamon town. I lived in the house in which Berry & Lincoln Kept grocery — New Salem laid off East & west — running on the back of the hill — about 25 — or 30 houses — all gone but one — : he bottomed — Lincoln did — some chairs for me in 1834 & 1831 — One Morning I Saw Abe up Early with an axe on his shoulder — I said to him — "Abe what in the devil are you going to do" "I'll tell you directly" said Abe he went in


the woods — cut down 2 hickory sapplings — peeled off the Course outer bark — peeled off the clean tender inner bark and with it bottomed my chairs. Abe ceased boarding with me in 1836 & 7. Abe was very good Kind & courteous to children & women — was sometimes sociable with men — Seen him Survey many times — he often to my own Knowledge attended law cases before Justices of the Peace in & near Salem from 1834 to 1837 — He loved Burns' poetry — Shakespear — and some few other books — read the News papers of the day — the Sangamon Journal & Mo Republican & Louisville Journal: He was always quoting Poetry — singing songs — "Old Suekey blue Skin" — Quote Speeches — orations — Make good Speeches to — wrote deeds — contracts — agreements &c for the neighbors & Charged them nothing — He was a good reader rather than a "much reader" as the Indian would Say: what he read he read thoroughly & well & never forgot it. He frequently visited from 1833 — to 1837. young ladies — he Courted Miss Rutledge: she moved down the river a few miles before I got to Salem. He went to see & Courted Miss Owens about 1835 — or — 1836 She was frequently at my house & Abe would gallant her down to Abels about 2 M down the River. It is said that she came all the way from Ky to get Lincoln. This I Know nothing about — but doubt. Miss Owen was a handsome woman — a fine looking woman — was Sharp — Shrewd and intellectual I assure you Miss Rutledge was a pretty woman — good natured — kind — wasn't as smart as Miss Owens by a heap. Mentor Graham — and the Greens helped Abe in Grammar — Graham aided him exclusing in Surveying — . I don't remember any jokes about Abe — I Know he sat up late at night and studied hard — rose tolerably Early. Abe ate mechanically — very moderately — didn't seem to Care much what was Set before him — So it was clean. I Knew John A. Kelso: he was a School Master: well educated — loved Shakespear and fishing above all other thing. Abe loved Shakespear but not fishing — still Kelso would draw Abe: they used to sit on the bank of the river and quote Shakespear — criticise one an other. Kelso lives now as I understand in Mo. Kelso, if at himself is a good Shakesperian Schollar for a western man. — think he was a Kentuckian — I say to you that from 1832. or 3 to 1838 — that Lincoln studied law — Studied, Surveying and general politics — was member of the legislature 3 times from New Salem — probably twice and part of an other term. I think Abels frame house was built down under the hill — and not on the top of it: it was a log house on the hill that Lincoln used to see Miss Owens in according to my recollection — Lincoln was Sometimes Sad — was deeply reflective — Sometimes it seemed to me a mix'd State of abstraction & Sadness. His clothing in the winter was Jeans & linnen generally in the Summer. Lincoln never hunted much: he was no hunter — loved sports — threw malls — large pieces of iron — jump — pitch quoits — dollars — never gambled — probably attended horse races — I never saw him at one — played old sledge for fun, and drank his dram occasionally when he wanted it. His friends forced


him to drink Sometimes and possibly he never would have touched it but for his friends — He used to worry — tire himself down at Study & work at Salem — would retire to Armstrongs — Shorts — Grahams & other places to get recruited —

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2706 — 10; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:357 — 62



1. A Negro minstrel song, also known as "Zip Coon." See Lair, 50 — 51.

2. Bennett and Elizabeth Abell.