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HOME > Biographical > The Life of Abraham Lincoln > CHAPTER II. THE NEW HOME AND THE FIRST GRIEF.
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When A-bra-ham was sev-en years old, his fa-ther Thom-as Lin-coln, found his farm too much for him. What he liked best was change. He said it would suit him to move to the West, where rich soil and more game could be found.
He thought he would take what he could of their
 poor goods, set off and hunt up a home. So he built a frail craft, put his wares on it, but soon got on the snags and lost most of what he had. He swam to the shore. In a few days the wa-ters, which had come up as high as the banks, went down, and folks a-long shore helped him get up a few of his goods from the bot-tom of the riv-er. These goods he put in-to a new boat, which he said he would pay for as soon as he could, and then float-ed down the O-hi-o to Thomp-son’s Land-ing. Here he put what he had brought with him in-to a store-house, and went off a score of miles through the woods to Pig-eon Creek. He found the soil all he thought it would be. He chose a tract of land, and then made a long trip to “en-ter his claim” at Vin-cennes. The next thing to do was to go back to Ken-tuc-ky.
The cool days of No-vem-ber had come ere wife and chil-dren, with two hor-ses which a friend had loaned, and what goods were left, set out for the far off land of In-di-an-a. When night came they slept on the ground on beds made of leaves and pine twigs. They ate the game the ri-fles brought down, cooking it by the camp fire. From time to time they had to ford or swim streams. They were glad that no rain fell in all their long route.
Sa-rah and A-bra-ham thought it was nice to spend weeks in the free, wild life of the woods. A-corns and wal-nuts they found, and fish came up when they put
 a fat worm on their hooks. They could wade and swim in the cool brooks and gather huge piles of dried leaves for their sound sleep at night.
But at last they came to the banks of one stream from which they could look far off to the land where they were to make their new home. All was still there save the sound of the birds and small game. Right in-to the heart of the dense woods they went on a piece of tim-ber-land a mile and a half east of what is now Gen-try-ville, Spen-cer Co. This was A-bra-ham Lin-coln’s third home. Here his fa-ther built a log “half-face,” half a score and four feet square. It had no win-dows and no chim-ney. For more than twelve months the Lin-colns staid in this camp. They got a bit of corn from a patch, and ground it in-to meal at a hand grist-mill, sev-en miles off, and this was their chief food. There was, of course, game, fish, and wild fruits.
Their beds were still heaps of dry leaves. The lad slept in a small loft at one end of the cab-in to which he went up by means of pegs in the wall. A-bra-ham was then in his eighth year, tall for his age, and clad in a home-spun garb or part skins of beasts. The cap was made of the skin of a coon with the tail on. The child
 did much work. He knew the use of the axe, the wedge, and the maul, and with these he found out how to split rails from logs drawn out of the woods. To clear the land so that they could plant corn to feed the fam-i-ly, and hew tim-ber to build the new house was work that gave fa-ther and son much to do. At last Sa-rah and A-bra-ham felt that they had a house to be proud of, though it was not much bet-ter than the one they had left. Its floor had not been laid, and there were no boards of which to make the door when they moved in. Some friends had come to see them, and as there would be more room for them in the new house they went to live there. It was a glad day when Thom-as Spar-row, whose wife was Mr. Lin-coln’s sis-ter, and Den-nis Hanks, her nephew, came.
The brief joy of the Lin-colns was soon lost in a great grief. An ill-ness came to that place and man-y folks died. Mrs. Lin-coln fell sick. She knew that she must leave her dear ones. Her work was at an end. As her son stood at her bed-side she said, “A-bra-ham, I am go-ing a-way from you. I shall not come back. I know that you will be a good boy, that you will be kind to Sa-rah and to your fa-ther. I want you to live as I
 have taught you, and to love your Heav-en-ly Fa-ther.”
The grief that came then to A-bra-ham Lin-coln made its mark on him, a stamp that went with him through life.
When that moth-er died, that dear moth-er, to whom he gave so much love, the boy felt that he did not want to live an-y long-er. He thought his heart would break. He staid days by his moth-er’s grave. He could not eat. He could not sleep. Soon Mr. and Mrs. Spar-row, the guests, died. The strange ill-ness came to them. It came, al-so, e-ven to the beasts of the fields in that land. Those were sad days.
Nan-cy Hanks Lin-coln was 33 years old when she died. Her hus-band, Thom-as, made a cof-fin for her of green lum-ber cut with a whip-saw, and she, with oth-ers, was bur-ied in a small “clear-ing” made in the woods.
 There were no pray-ers or hymns. It was great grief to young A-bra-ham that the good man of God who spoke in the old home was not there to say some words at that time. It was then that the ten-year old child wrote his first let-ter. It was hard work, for he had had small chance to learn that art. But his love for his moth-er led his hand so that he put down the words on pa-per, and a friend took them five scores of miles off. Good Par-son El-kins took the poor note sent from the boy he loved, and, with his heart full of pit-y for the great grief which had come to his old friends, and be-cause of his deep re-gard for the no-ble wom-an who had gone to her rest, he made the long jour-ney, though weeks passed ere he could stand by that grave and say the words A-bra-ham longed to hear.

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