New Lincoln History
Contributed by Charles Richard Bowers
Transcribed by K. Torp
The following paper was read September 18, 1930, by Clarence W. Bell, Mattoon, before the special commission appointed by Gov. Em-[text missing]
Gentlemen, and the Honorable Committee of the Lincoln National Memorial Highway
I wish to reveal some of the most important things in Lincoln's life.
The Missing Link - Some of which has never been published for all the Histories just trace the Lincolns to Buck Grove then stop and leave out from three to five years of the very most important of the Lincoln History.
History tells us that the Sawyers were relatives and say no more. Those five years of Lincoln's life are the most important of all. Who is to blame for this blank in our history?
This day that part left out is crying from the soil. We, of the Lincoln family, have our true God relationship, and can prove to the world this most important part and place of Abraham Lincoln and his relatives. There are forty-six of us to-day.
And we are now before the Honorable Commission appointed by the Governor to locate the route where this highway should be placed. The routing to be on or as near as practical trails passing by the most important shrines of the steps of Abraham Lincoln and his folks,- which Wabash Point (Paradise) of 1828 to 1855 is the most important place of all. Let us prove it to you. There are a body of men working on a new and revised history of Abraham Lincoln to-day and this missing link will be in that history.
I have given all my life to the study of the Lincoln family for I am a part of that blood. What I have heard from my closest relatives, who are nearer connected to the Lincoln family than I am, has impressed my memory with a more complete history of Lincoln's than Herndon and Gridley.
Sarah Bush Johnson Lincoln was my mother's great aunt. One of Sarah Bush Johnson Lincolns daughters married Dennis Hanks, a cousin to Abraham Lincoln. Then again one of Dennis Hank's daughters married Dennis Dowling, a cousin to my grandfather.
Again Ursha Linder, an own cousin to Elisha Linder, my grandfather, rode the circuit with Abe Lincoln; he always claimed that the Linder's were distant relatives of Thomas Lincoln's mother. Ursha Linder was the first attorney-general of the State of Illinois. So you see I see into the Lincoln family as they were when at home at the breakfast table.
Here very briefly I will give you a sketch of the
Unwritten Lincoln History
The year 1813 when Abe was four years of age, Thomas Lincoln and family moved to a new cabin, near Knob Creek, about four miles distant. Across Knob Creek about a mile lived one John Sawyer and wife, Hannah Radley Sawyer, who then had a daughter, Rebecca and a son, James.
John Sawyer's wife's mother was a sister to Sarah Bush who married Johnson, who died, and she then married her old sweetheart, Thomas Lincoln. A half mile further lived on Isaac Linder, who had four children, Elisha, Daniel, Polly and Isletta. This Isaac Linder had a brother, Daniel Linder, who was the father of Ursher Linder, who rode the circuit with Abraham Lincoln -both at that time were Illinois' great men.
Killed by an Indian
One day while clearing timber in Kentucky, a hostile Indian shot and killed Isaac Linder, leaving Elisha, only twelve years of age to support his mother and three younger brothers and sisters. Charles Sawyer, the champion brick layer, a brother of John Sawyer, took Elisha Linder in as a partner in the brick laying business. They built a great part of Elizabethtown, Ky, in that day. They also built the White Mills in Kentucky.
About two years later Nancy Linder, the mother of Elisha Linder, died and left the three orphan children. John Sawyer took the three children, Daniel Isletta and Polly Linder into his home and kept them until they married. Elisha Linder the other child, lived with Charles Sawyer. Elisha Linder was a great friend to the Lincolns in Kentucky and John Sawyer was the best friend that Thos. Lincoln ever had, both in Kentucky and in Illinois.
There were but few schools in those days for the country youth. One log school about eight miles distant from that neighborhood in Kentucky. Elisha Linder and Abe Lincoln for six weeks attended that school, both using the same spelling book, Abe learning it by memory where there were stories in it. They used their fingers as an arithmetic
When Abe was nine years old [text missing] 1817 Thomas Lincoln sold [text missing] tucky and moved to Indiana, [text missing] ing in Spencer county. We all [text missing] the hard times they encount [text missing] the drouthy summer, when [text missing] the snake weed and the [text missing] broke out. The Sparrow fa[text missing] of Abes, died from it, and Nancy [text missing] it caused her death Of Tom Lincoln making the coffin and digging her grave and burying her without funeral or ceremony. Of Abe sending word to Preacher Elkins and he coming up from Kentucky a year later and holding a funeral over her grave. And now as history relates Thomas Lincoln went back to Kentucky, leaving his family in Indiana, staying about six months and on his return he brought back with him his new wife, one he had courted in his boyhood days, Sarah Bush Johnson, and her three children, John Johnson, Matilda Johnson and Elizabeth Johnson. Aunt Sarah, the new mother and Abe Lincoln became friends at once. She had books for him to read. We have the History of John Hanks and John Radley and Dennis Hanks coming up from Kentucky to Spencer county and uniting with the Thomas Lincoln family. We also have the history of the Halls.
Now we step into the greatest History of the Lincolns John Hanks, John Radley and Dennis Hanks, tiring of Indiana hardships stepped over into Illinois looking for a promised land. They came to Wabash Point where John Sawyer and his family had moved to in 1826 He, John Sawyer, was the first man to locate at Wabash point October 6, 1826, and built the first cabin in Wabash Point.
In the year 1827, June 26, came Charles Sawyer and family and Elisha Linder. Then came the Trembles, Knabs, Slovers, Richmonds and Hansons, all from the old Lincoln Linder and Sawyer neighborhood in Kentucky. John Radley, a brother of John Sawyer's wife, Dennis Hanks, a cousin of Abe Lincoln, and John Hanks a cousin of Dennis Harks came to the Sawyer place in old Wabash Point in the wilds of Illinois. After a short rest they then went by where old Nelson was and up into Macon county about eight miles south of Decatur, Illinois, where John Radley and John Hanks agreed to stay and cut the logs and Dennis to return and bring the Lincolns there. Dennis Hanks went back to Indiana and brought back here into Illinois with him the whole of the Lincoln family consisting of thirteen members.
The Reunion at Old Paradise
They drove a four-ox team. Abe walked and drove all the way. They came across Illinois crossing at McCann's Ford on the Embarras river and came direct to Wabash Point and visited at the home of John Sawyer.
I can see my great-grandmother Sawyer throw her arms around Aunt Sally Bush Johnson Lincoln, her aunt and kiss her, and I can see those tears run down their faces, and that poor tired worn out Abe Lincoln who was just 21 years of age as he and his old Kentucky playmate and schoolmate, Elisha Linder, as they clasped hands. No one but a Kentuckian can understand that feeling. I have felt that touch of joy that brings the tears to the eyes when I have met again my long absent friends. All this happened at Wabash Point, later named Paradise and old Richmond. After a brief stay the Lincoln family went on up into Macon County where John Radley and John Hanks awaited them. It didn't take very long then to erect Thomas Lincoln's first log cabin in Illinois.
We have correct now all about Abe Lincoln's life at Old Salem and his study there, Anna Rutledge, and we now introduce Abe Lincoln as a lawyer at Springfield, Illinois, his practice of law, and him riding the circuit with Ursher Linder and their statesmanship and Ursher Linder's great name in statesmanship, and the first attorney general of Illinois.
We now return to Abe's father and the family. Thomas Lincoln lived about one year in Macon county. He here withstood one of the worst winters that Illinois had had in thirty years. He made up his mind to go back to Indiana, packed up his things and started back. When he reached the Sawyer home in Wabash point, now named Paradise by one George M. Hanson and established a post office in the old Hiram Tremble house in 1829, he being a cousin of Hiram Tremble. There were about eight houses there then. Tom Lincoln and family on arriving at Wabash Point stayed two weeks with John Sawyer's daughter, Rebecca, and built the Linder home. Isaac Radley, father of Mrs John Sawyer, who married Sarah Bush Johnson Lincoln's sister had come up on a visit from Kentucky.
Squatters at Buck Grove
They, John and Charles Sawyer, Elisha Linder and Ike Radley persuaded the Lincoln's to remain in Illinois and Thomas Lincoln built his second Illinois cabin at Buck Grove in 1831. John Sawyer, Elisha Linder and Charles Sawyer assisted in building the cabin. There was never any thought then of the city of Mattoon. Old Paradise post office established by the Government in 1829 had one store. There was another store and relay station, called old Richmond, a half mile north west layed out four years later. Here Thomas Lincoln got his mail and groceries.
This place of Thomas Lincoln at Buck Grove was a squatter's claim. Tom Lincoln later bought a place a half mile south of Lerna He also lived a while on the Plummer place and finally built his last cabin, the old Lincoln home southeast of Farmington, where Thomas Lincoln died in 1851.
After the death of Thomas Lincoln, his wife, Aunt Sarah Bush Johnson Lincoln, went to the home of John Sawyer at Wabash point. Aunt Hanah Sawyer John Sawyer's wife being dead, and there Aunt Sally Lincoln lived and stayed with John Sawyer for a little over two years, and helped Uncle John Sawyer care for his two youngest daughters, Lydia and Anna, and while there Aunt Sally Lincoln took Anna and Lydia Sawyer to a store and got a breast pin and set of ear rings for each one of the two girls and paid for them out of the ten dollars per month Abraham Lincoln sent her each month to help keep her. We have in our possession the pin she gave Lydia Sawyer at that time. The pin today is a priceless article. Money cannot buy it.
And again as [text missing] read History you read of the wrestling match of Abe Lincoln and Dan Needham. This took place near the post office and store at Old Paradise in June 1831. This store was on the Hiram Tremble farm. There was another store in Paradise owned by the Slovers. John Sawyer had a brick Kiln, Elisha Linder was justice of peace, Charles Sawyer was a civil engineer and brick mason. Langston had the Relay station and kept and fed the stage horses. Later it was moved to Richmond. Charles Sawyer bought 160 acres of land of which we have the deed, on the Wabash river, two miles south west of this Paradise and called it New Paradise; got a Mr. Townley to saw off a little square of timber and sold it for a big price. This place never got a post office till after Mattoon sprang up in 1855.
This Paradise holds in history the greatest of the Lincoln history and the committee has prepared a map running through that section which will soon be recognized as Lincoln history. The old Linder home, the schoolmate of Abe's, his friend and a friend of the Lincolns not only here but in Kentucky where they were born. Mrs. Elisha Linder, a daughter of John Sawyer, and a first cousin of Abe Lincoln's step-mother,Sarah Bush Johnson Lincoln, in this house Aunt Sally as we all called her, had been more than a hundred times. The house where Abe Lincoln came and stayed all night and took the plans for his Springfield home - an exact duplicate of it. In this house Ursha Linder and Abe Lincoln ate many meals together and stayed all night.
Now we pass by the Wabash School where an old log cabin stood in which the younger Sawyers got their education and where camp meetings were held. Joe Hall when the preacher took a pint of whisky away from him Abe took the case and made the preacher pay 14 cents for the whisky and one cent for the bottle.
Then we go to old Richmond, a relay station, established in 1836. It had a general store and the Paradise post office, and here Thomas Lincoln received mail and bought groceries. Then we go east a quarter of a mile and turn south into Paradise the only town between Charleston and Shelbyville. Here we stop at the home of John Sawyer; one of the most famous of all the Lincoln Shrines. His wife was a niece of Tom Lincoln's best friend here and in Kentucky, Aunt Sarah Bush Johnson Lincoln, a mother-in-law to Dennis Hanks, and here at this place brought the Lincolns, Hanks and all from Indiana and here her relatives persuaded them to remain in Illinois, and if there had not been a John Sawyer and this home in Illinois in all probability Abraham Lincoln would never have seen the State of Illinois. And just north is the Tremble home the site of the first Paradise post office which was located in the old Hiram Tremble house by George B. Hanson who named it Paradise post office. It was then the only town anywhere around.
We also today present the cane Thomas Lincoln always carried, presented by Aunt Sarah Lincoln to Charles Sawyer after the death of Thomas Lincoln as a token of remembrance.
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