• The First Lincoln Memorial

    Abraham Lincoln Birthplace

    National Historical Park Kentucky

Sinking Spring Farm

A chronological history of the Sinking Spring Farm

1783 - William Greene received a land grant of 30,000 acres from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The land was part of what is now Jefferson County, Kentucky but would become part of Hardin County, Kentucky in 1792. The deed for the land grant was signed by Patrick Henry. One-half of the 30,000 acres was bought by Joseph James, which was then purchased by Richard Mather, a land speculator from New York.

1805 - David Vance bought 300 acres from Mather, who held a lien on the land. Vance then sold the farm to Isaac Bush.

1808 - Thomas Lincoln purchased 300 acres of land from Bush. However, none of the three paid the debt to Mather.

1809 - Abraham Lincoln was born February 12 on the Sinking Spring Farm.

1811 - Thomas Lincoln moves the family to Knob Creek because of title problems with the Sinking Spring Farm.

1813 - Mather filed suit against Vance, Bush, and Lincoln to collect the debt owed on the farm. Vance had disappeared, so Bush and Lincoln answered the bill. Lincoln tried to pay Matcher the money owed him but Mather wanted the land back.

1816 - Mather won the suit and got his land back. Later the land was sold to John Welsh at a commissioner's sale for $87.74. As years passed, portions of the farm were sold to various parties. 110 acres around the Spring were bought by the Creal family.

1860 - Remains of the symbolic cabin found on the Creal farm were moved to the Davenport farm near by. History of the symbolic cabin since 1816 is unclear.

1865 - John Rowbotham, photographer-artist, made pictures of the birthplace site for a Cincinnati publication. While here he found rocks where the chimney had once stood and two pear trees thought to have been planted by Thomas Lincoln.

1886 - First attempt by U.S. Government to commemorate Lincoln Birthplace Site. Thomas Robertson, Representative from Kentucky introduced a House Bill to appropriate $10,000 to erect a granite monument. The bill did not pass.

1894 - Alfred Dennett and Rev. James Bingham bought the Creal farm for $3,000. They planned to make a profit by building a hotel and park to take advantage of the increased interest in Lincoln's birthplace. Dennett knew about a large GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) encampment that was to take place near Louisville, Kentucky and he thought they would be willing to pay a price to see Lincoln's birth site and cabin. Only a couple of hundred soldiers came because the price being charged was too high.

1895 - Bingham had been instructed by Dennett to have a cabin built on the site identical to the Lincoln cabin. Rather than build, Bingham purchased the old cabin that had been moved to the Davenport's farm and re-erected the cabin on the knoll near the spring.

1896 - Rep. John Lewis introduced a House Bill to appropriate $100,000 toward purchasing land and erecting a National Soldiers Home near the birth site. The bill did not pass.

1897 - Symbolic cabin was moved to Nashville, Tennessee to display at the Tennessee Centennial, by Rev. Bingham. There the cabin was shown alongside a cabin that was said to be the birth cabin of Jefferson Davis, President of the CSA. After the centennial both cabins were taken to New York for storage.

1901 - Bingham took the cabins to Buffalo, New York for the Pan American Exposition being held there. Afterward they were returned to New York and stored in a basement on Long Island.

1905 - Richard Lloyd Jones presented plans for Lincoln Farm Association in the Colliers magazine. Prominent men from all walks of life were appointed to the Board of Trustees. Logs of the symbolic cabin were found in the basement of the old Poppenhusen Mansion at College Point, New York. They were purchased by the Association for $1,000. In June a triumphant tour was scheduled to return the logs back to Sinking Spring Farm. During the trip back the logs were guarded by armed soldiers as stops were made in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Baltimore, and Indianapolis. Thousands turned out at each stop to see the "Lincoln Logs."

1905 - Dennett declared bankruptcy. The farm was sold at the Court House door for $3,600. It was bought by Richard Lloyd Jones in the name of Robert Collier.

1906 - Lincoln Farm Association was founded to preserve the birth site and cabin of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America.

1907 - Lincoln Farm Association was in full swing. Roughly 100,000 persons contributed money totaling over $350,000. Solicitations were sent out all over the country, including schools in "Lincoln Leagues." John Russell Pope, a famous architect, was selected to design the Memorial Building. They had in mind a large two-story building. However, a recession caused plans to be scaled back to a much smaller unit. In November a contract was let to Norcross Brothers to build the Memorial at a cost of $237,101. A Bill introduced in Congress for $100,000 to help fund the Memorial fails to pass.

1909 - Plans for completion of the Memorial Building for Lincoln's 100th birthday are not possible due to the lack of funding. However, on February 12, 1909, Lincoln's 100th birthday, President Theodore Roosevelt was here to lay the corner stone for the Memorial Building. With him were Mrs. Roosevelt, the Secretary of War, and the Governor of Kentucky. It was a cold and rainy day, the mud was terrible but an estimated 12,000 people showed up for the ceremony.

1911 - Memorial Building completed. President William Howard Taft gave the dedication speech on November 9th. An estimated crowd of 3,000 was on hand. Lincoln Farm Association turned the property over to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky was asked to add to the $50,000 trust fund for the maintenance of the park. The fund was invested in the City of Louisville Bonds.

1916 - A Bill passed in U. S. Congress to accept the Birthplace Site and Memorial from Kentucky so that it could be made a park. The Birthplace Site and Memorial Building were designated Abraham Lincoln National Park. Robert Jones of the Lincoln Farm Association volunteered to serve as Commissioner and John Cissell, grandson of John Creal, was appointed custodian. The park was put under the control of the U. S. Army.

1927 - Commissioner's report stated the Memorial Building and surrounding area was in state of deterioration. An old barn and tool shed was still on the property.

1929 - Stone steps and retaining wall to the spring were built. Split rail fence built from 2500 rails from Fort Knox. Work was done on the drainage problem. Old tiles and concrete were removed from the Memorial Building roof.

1930 - Granite steps built on east and west side of Memorial Building. A well was dug, restrooms were built, and 1,000 feet of limestone walks were built along with a stone tool house and pavilion. The pavilion contained a room for the Ladies Lincoln League to sell souvenirs. Several trees and shrubs were planted.

1933 - National Park Service assumed control of Abraham Lincoln National Park from U. S. Army.

1936 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt was here to celebrate Flag Day on June 14. An estimated crowd of 50,000 people attended the ceremony.

1938 - A five foot section of an old flag pole that had somehow been embedded in the concrete floor of the symbolic cabin was removed. The concrete floor was replaced with a dirt floor at the same time. Mr. Cissell removed the door and window frames that had been made of sawed lumber and fastened with large machined nails. Frames were replaced with period fittings of hewed lumber and wooden pegs. He also made a door and shutter from rough lumber with wooden hinges.

1939 - Abraham Lincoln National Park is designated Abraham Lincoln National Historic Park to better reflect the birth site.

1941 - Interior walls of Memorial Building were plastered and painted to cover two panels that contained incorrect information. The old Creal house was demolished. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) boys worked on the boundary oak tree and split 2,000 rails for a new fence.

1942 - Supervision of Park is given to Mammoth Cave National Park.

1945 - U. S. Government purchased five and one-quarter acres for $90,000 from James Howell and W. L. Ferrill. The land surrounded the Boundary Oak tree and was to be made part of the Park. President Truman approved the purchase.

1948 - Historian Ben Davis transferred from Mammoth Cave National Park to the park to research the origins of the farm and revise the park's interpretive brochure. Aided by Melvin Weig of Morristown National Historic Park, prepares the "Report on the Original Thomas Lincoln Nolin Creek Farm, Based on Court Records."

1949 - Deed for the land surrounding the Boundary Oak Tree is received from Howell and Ferrill.

1951 - Superintendent's house built at a cost of $17,457.

1952 - Office for Superintendent built.

1953 - Senator Alben Barkley visited Park and spoke at the Lincoln Day Ceremonies on February 12.

1954 - President Eisenhower visited the Park and had lunch at the Women's Club. Crowd estimated at 8,000 people. Another two incorrect marble tablets removed from walls of Memorial Building.

1959 - Visitor Center was completed and dedicated on May 30. It was part of the Mission 66 Project and cost $129,129. Two residences built for park personnel at a cost of $24,564. Old pavilion and rest rooms demolished. Sesquicentennial ceremonies were held with a special one-cent postage stamp issued to celebrate the event. Park's name was changed to Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site.

1960 - Jenkin Lloyd Jones, son of Richard Jones visited the Park and promised to donate his father's documents pertaining to the Lincoln Farm Association and Birthplace Site to the Park.

1964 - Visitor Center and audio-visual room enlarged. Trail system in the park was expanded. Picnic area developed on the east side of the US 31E, across from the Memorial.

1965 - Maintenance service building constructed.

1976 - Boundary Oak Tree died after years of gradual decline.

1978 - Boundary Oak Tree cut back to a 25 foot stump.

1982 - Old stone walks, with the exception of those leading to the spring, were dug out and replace with concrete walks with a pebble finish.

1986 - October 1, stump of the Boundary Oak was removed and stored inside a building owned by Jim Phelps to dry out. A portion of the tree is used as an exhibit in Visitor Center.

2001 - Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek is added to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site.

2008 - 2010 - Country celebrates Lincoln Bicentennial.

2009 - Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site becomes Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.

Did You Know?

Picture of  scale model which is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The only President to ever be awarded a patent for an original invention was Abraham Lincoln. The patent, No. 6469, had to do with raising and lowering boats over shoals.