217 North Senate Avenue

Indianapolis, Indiana

Immediate Release

No. 618

June 24, 1936

Indianapolis, Indiana, June --Tribute will be paid to the boy Lincoln in Rockport on July 4, when four new buildings constructed by Works Progress Administration workers in the Lincoln Pioneer Village are to be dedicated. This program will be the climax to the Lincoln country summer festival, which is to be held in Rockport June 28 to July 4.

A fireplace like the one before which Lincoln as a boy sat on long winter nights reading Scott’s Elocution Book, and memorizing the quotations from Shakespeare that he was to use so many times in the years to come, has been placed in a new cabin, a reproduction of the last home of the Lincolns in Spencer County.

Tradition has it that Lincoln was so impressed with Hamlet’s soliloquy, Portia’s famous "quality of mercy" speech and others, that he memorized them before the fireplace of his Indiana log cabin home and recited them with the skill of an experienced orator. James K. Hackett, the famous Shakespearean actor, visiting Lincoln in the White House, is said to have told the president that he read Shakespeare with more expression than he who had made it his life work.

As a permanent Lincoln shrine, a village gradually is being built in a park in Rockport, containing authentic reproductions of some of the buildings extant in Spencer county at the time of the residence of the Lincoln family there. First opened to the public last July 4, with eleven buildings constructed by FERA workers, the village gradually is being expended. During the past year, four buildings and a lake have been added by Works Progress Administration workers, and will be dedicated on July 4.

As the result of extensive research by the Spencer County Historical Society and George Honig, sculptor and designer of the village, the buildings are believed to be fairly accurate reproductions of the buildings of Lincoln’s day.

The last Indiana home of the Lincolns, for example, has a bed built onto the logs in the side walls, a unique feature of some of the earlier pioneer homes.

The old Pigeon Creek Baptist church, which Thomas Lincoln and his son Abraham assisted in building in Spencer County, has been reproduced, even to the high pulpit and puncheon seats. On the day the village is dedicated, services will be held in the church every half-hour.

A barter and market house, where pioneers exchanged their wares, has been built and equipped with skins, tobacco and other merchandise popular in Lincoln’s day. Old newspapers in the county, dating back as far as 1823, mention these trading marts.

The last of the new buildings is the home of Daniel Grass, the founder of Rockport. It is a two story structure, containing five rooms. Much of the furniture in the original Grass home, which has been preserved by descendants of the family, will be placed in the house.

A three-acre lake, built outside the stockade which surrounds the Lincoln Pioneer Village, will provide recreational facilities, as well as beautify the park in which the village is situated. To give it a pioneer-day atmosphere, a corncracker mill has been constructed alongside the lake. There is also an island in the center. Plans are to have pageants here, depicting Lincoln’s flatboating trips and other similar incidents of his life.

To lend atmosphere to the dedicatory program, members of the Spencer County Historical Society will don the costumes of pioneer days, and occupy the buildings in the village. Store will be kept, school will be in session, spinning wheels will fly, and butter will be churned in the cedar churns - the entire village will hum with activity.

Extensive plans have been made for the dedicatory program. It will open on Sunday, June 28, and continue for a week, with the final celebration and dedication of the village on July 4.

Wayne Coy, state director of the Works Progress Administration, will deliver the dedicatory address on the afternoon of the fourth. Others appearing on this program are United States Senator Sherman Minton; Thomas Finley, of Madisonville, Kentucky, who will bring greetings from his state; Dr. Christopher B. Coleman, director of the Indiana Historical Bureau; Prof. Ross F. Lockridge, Indiana historian and director of the WPA writers project; Harvey Chinn, mayor of Rockport; Lieutenant-Governor M. Clifford Townsend, Democratic nominee for Governor, and Raymond Springer, Republican nominee for Governor; A.B. Eberling of Evansville, president of the Southwestern Indiana Civic Association, will be master of ceremonies.

Preceding the afternoon program, a parade will march through the streets of Rockport and before the audience assembled in the grandstand in the park, depicting the march of progress from Lincoln’s time to the present.

The program for the week preceding the dedication will open with services on Sunday in the Pigeon Creek Baptist church, and will include home-coming celebrations, tours of historic shrines in the county, Kiwanis Club day, the dedication of the granite marker donated by Louis F. Weiss, former mayor of Rockport, and the presentation of a play, "Lincoln’s First Sorrow", depicting the death of Nancy Hanks Lincoln.

More than 20,000 persons have visited the Lincoln village since it was opened to the public, not quite a year ago. Its register contains names from all over the world. People of all races and nationalities, hearing of the shrine, have come to pay their respects to the memory of Lincoln. One of the most illustrious visitors was Toyokia Dagava, the well-known Japanese statesman.

Buildings constructed by the FERA are: John Pitcher’s law office, where Lincoln came to borrow books; the Jones store, where her worked; The Gentry mansion; the Azel Dorsey home; a pioneer school, a pioneer church, Brown’s Inn, the Grigsby home, a block house, and two typical pioneer cabins. Adding to the pioneer atmosphere of the village are garden, a hitch rack, a covered wagon, wells with sweep and windlass, and an ash hopper such as the pioneers used for making soap.

Future plans for the village call for a statue of the boy Lincoln, by Mr. Honig, and museums. It is hoped eventually to people the buildings with wax figures dressed in authentic reproductions of the costumes of the time.

(This paper has been copied from the original.)