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Marker at Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park
© Abraham Lincoln Online

Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park

Decatur, Illinois

Just west of Decatur you can see where the Lincoln family first settled in Illinois after moving from their farm in southern Indiana. Lincoln himself tells the story in third person in his 1860 autobiography:

"March 1, 1830, Abraham having just completed his twenty-first year, his father and family, with the families of the two daughters and sons-in-law of his stepmother, left the old homestead in Indiana and came to Illinois. Their mode of conveyance was wagons drawn by ox-teams, and Abraham drove one of the teams. They reached the county of Macon, and stopped there some time within the same month of March. His father and family settled a new place on the north side of the Sangamon River, at the junction of the timberland and prairie, about ten miles westerly from Decatur. Here they built a log cabin, into which they removed, and made sufficient of rails to fence ten acres of ground, fenced and broke the ground, and raised a crop of sown corn upon it the same year. These are, or are supposed to be, the rails about which so much is being said just now, though these are far from being the first or only rails ever made by Abraham."

The Lincoln family lived here only a year, discouraged by sickness and the extreme winter weather. By the next spring Abraham had begun to seek a life of his own, while his father and stepmother set out for what would be their last home in Coles County. Lincoln concludes his story:

"The sons-in-law were temporarily settled in other places in the county. In the autumn all hands were greatly afflicted with ague and fever, to which they had not been used, and by which they were greatly discouraged, so much so that they determined on leaving the county. They remained, however, through the succeeding winter, which was the winter of the very celebrated 'deep snow' of Illinois. During that winter Abraham, together with his stepmother's son, John D. Johnston, and John Hanks, yet residing in Macon County, hired themselves to Denton Offutt to take a flatboat from Beardstown, Illinois, to New Orleans; and for that purpose were to join him -- Offutt -- at Springfield, Illinois, so soon as the snow should go off. When it did go off, which was about the first of March, 1831, the county was so flooded as to make traveling by land impracticable; to obviate which difficulty they purchased a large canoe, and came down the Sangamon River in it."

© Abraham Lincoln Online
When you visit this memorial park, drive east on the park road to the cabin site. However, you will not see a log cabin (a replica burned years ago), but two markers instead. You can see one marker in the photograph above, which was erected by the Decatur chapter of the D.A.R. in 1904.

The Lincoln family cabin once stood high above the Sangamon River, as shown here. The Sangamon flowed down to the town of Springfield, where Lincoln later established his own home.

Location: The park is about 10 miles straight west of Decatur. Take Route 36 to Lincoln Trail Memorial Parkway; go south four miles. The park is on the east side of the road. For more information, write Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park, P.O. Box 705, Mt. Zion, IL 62549.

Related Links
Lincoln Early Life Timeline
Looking for Lincoln
Places Lincoln Lived

Related Reading
Davenport, Don. In Lincoln's Footsteps: A Historical Guide to the Lincoln Sites in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. Revised edition, Trails Books, 2002.

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