Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Youthful Abe Lincoln learns valuable lesson

In January and February we honor three great Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington. Here are some little-known facts about Lincoln that don’t make the headlines but relate to his background and his human qualities.

Lincoln’s ancestors left southeastern England because of a proclamation in the early 1600s that said, "All of those who do not conform to the strict regulations of the Anglican Church will be harried out of the land." They were in danger because they were Quakers who believed that everyone was created equal in the sight of God.

Daniel Boone’s ancestors, also Quakers, left southwest England later, also seeking religious freedom. George Fox, their leader, had been tortured. Any safe location, even in the untamed new land across the Atlantic, was attractive to people who were in such danger.

A young weaver named Samuel Lincoln came here only 17 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Gregory Dexter, one of my husband’s ancestors and the first printer in America, came from London in the 1640s. George Boone, an ancestor of Daniel Boone, made a notoriously miserable crossing of the Atlantic, landing in Philadelphia in 1717. They and many others were Quakers in search of freedom to worship God in their own way, without harassment. Samuel Lincoln married here and the couple raised a large family, many of whom became influential in the development of the new country.

The Lincolns were attracted to the same general area as were the Boones. According to historical and biographical information by Willard Mounts, members of these families met first at a Quaker meeting when they lived in Berks County, Pa. In his book, "The Pioneer and the Prairie Lawyer" (Ginwill Publishing Co., Denver, Colo., 1992), Mounts writes: "This was the beginning of a close relationship leading to several marriages between the two families ... strong ties that endured for many years."

Daniel Boone was 75 years old and living in Missouri when Abraham Lincoln was born.

Mounts writes that, as a youth, Abe was strong and ambitious. He had helped raise enough produce that he wanted to take it downriver to sell. He persuaded his mother to let him do this and built a flatboat large enough to carry several barrels of his produce. He was at the wharf when a riverboat stopped for passengers. Two well-dressed men approached, looked over the several boats available and chose his.

"Will you take us and our trunks out to the steamboat?" they asked. Abe said he’d do it, thinking he might make about "2 or 3 bits" for the job. He loaded their heavy trunks onto the flatboat and the men sat on their trunks. Then he put the heavy trunks up onto the steamer that has ready to pull out.

Abe called, "Fellows, you forgot to pay me." Each man then tossed a silver half-dollar — 4 bits each — onto the deck of his boat!

He said, "I could hardly credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day. By honest work, I had earned a dollar."

Later he said, "The world seemed wider and fairer before me. I was a more hopeful and confident being from that time."

As a little girl, I experienced a similar feeling when one of Dad’s milk customers paid me 25 cents for a Christmas tree I cut from the woods. More on young Abe Lincoln later.

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