217 North Senate Avenue

Indianapolis, Indiana

For Release January 7, 1936

ERA Series No. 6


(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth of a series of twelve stories outlining some of the work relief activities of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in Indiana. One story will be printed each week.)

Indianapolis, January 7 – Landmarks associated with the formative years of the life of Abraham Lincoln in Indiana were perpetuated through the reconstruction of a Lincoln pioneer village, at Rockport, by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in cooperation with the Spencer County Historical Society. The project was the largest of several carried on by the FERA designed to restore historical sites and embellish old chapters in the state’s colorful history.

Since Lincoln lived in Spencer county from 1816 to 1830 and had many associations with the town of Rockport, it was decided to reconstruct those buildings frequented by him in the form of a pioneer village, which would serve as permanent monument to his memory. The village covers a four-acre tract in a wooded part of the old Rockport fairgrounds. It was designed by George Honig, sculptor and a widely known student of Lincolniana. All the construction work was done by FERA workers.

Ten log buildings were constructed, and the grounds are enclosed in an old-fashioned stockade, over which was built a block-house fort. There were four such forts in Spencer county, at Enterprise, Grandview and Newtonville, and at the mouth of Anderson Creek, where Lincoln worked as a ferryman.

The log cabin home and law office of Judge John Pitcher is one of the buildings reproduced. It was to Judge Pitcher’s home that Lincoln frequently walked seventeen miles to borrow law books. The building contains old books and old files of newspapers. The pioneer church of which Lincoln’s father Thomas Lincoln, and his stepmother, were members; the Azel Dorsey home, in which Spencer county’s first court was held; Rockport’s first tavern, where Ratliff Boon and other pioneer leaders boarded while in Rockport to attend court; the old school house at Rockport, typical of all pioneer buildings, and the home of Daniel Grass, where early settlers and distinguished visitors congregated, are included in the village. Stones from the fireplace in the original Lincoln cabin were used in constructing a replica of the fireplace in one of the cabins.

Two buildings which stood in Gentryville also were reconstructed. One is the William Jones store in which Lincoln worked as a young man. He walked two and a half miles to and from his work and his wages were thirty cents a day. The future president improved his reading ability and kept himself informed on what was going on in the world by reading the Louisville Journal, of which his employer was a subscriber. The other Gentryville building is the Reuben Grigsby cooper shop, where both Lincoln and his father worked for a time. The Lincolns and Grigsbys were neighbors, and one of the Grigsbys married Lincoln’s sister Sarah.

There is an administration building of two rooms with a covered way between--one of the earliest types of log cabin architecture. Old log chairs, tables and beds, spinning wheels, old quilts, rag rugs and crude utensils make up the furnishings of the cabins. Efforts were made to restore the grounds to the state they were in when Lincoln lived in the county. There are two wells, one with a windlass and one with a sweep, and an ox cart and covered wagon, both exact reproductions of the vehicles of pioneer days.

The village was brought to life on the occasion of its dedication. The McGuffeyites "kept" school; church services were held in the log church; "Abe Lincoln" sold calico and molasses in the Jones store, and pioneer housewives went about their duties, spinning and carding wool in the cabins. Rockport residents portrayed the various characters in the pioneer drama.

In pioneer days there were two landing places for Ohio river boats in Rockport—the upper and the lower landing. It was from the latter that flatboats departed for New Orleans. Lincoln, when nineteen years old, started from this landing on his first trip to New Orleans, where for the first time he saw a slave market. In commemoration of this event, Rockport citizens a few years ago enacted a pageant depicting the start of his journey. Interest in this pageant was so great that it was decided to construct the Lincoln Village as a permanent memorial.

(This paper has been copied from the original.)