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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Unexpected Finds

 Today I had to drive down to Mattoon to deposit my first Walgreens check in the bank. It felt kind of good to know the unpleasantness of returning to a job I hate put money in the bank. Having the day off, and wanting to think about other things I decided that since I had driven an hour and a half I might as well do something.

I drove down a road that I thought a sign had said would lead me to a lake. Turns out, I thought wrong, or at least I never found it. Then I saw a sign for "Lincoln Log Home," and decided what the heck.

As I was driving, I thought to myself, I'm going to feel real stupid if it turns out that it was a model house made out of Lincoln logs. In Illinois it seems everyone tries to cash in on Lincoln, so I wasn't sure what I would find.

 As it turned out it was a real site. It was the last farm that President Abraham Lincoln's father Thomas lived on. At one time the president actually owned part of the farm himself. Bad investments by both his father and his step-brother made it necessary for Lincoln to buy out part of the farm to keep his family on it.
 I have heard stories and accounts that Lincoln's father was less than loving to him and even cruel. The fact that he was able to put that aside and help his father in his times of need says something about the character of our sixteenth president.

He did love his step-mother and that fact is shown with quotes on plaques throughout the park. On his last trip to the farm before his inauguration he went with his stepmother to his father's grave.  Perhaps it was for her that he helped his father.
 The split rail fence brings to mind the many stories of Lincoln as a boy. Though, I don't think he lived at the farm, it is easy to imagine him working there. I can see him feeding the livestock and helping to mend the roof when coming to visit. Seeing his father age and become less independent may have softened his childhood memories, making it easier to do what was needed.
There was another house on the site called the Sergent Farm. I don't know anything about it, but it must have had some importance since it has been preserved on the Lincoln farm site as well.

When I walked into that little house I first noticed the flooring. I jokingly said to the lady working there that I didn't think the vinyl was period correct. She giggled and told me what it really was. It was painted canvas. Very period correct in point of fact. I was intrigued! It looks like vinyl. I think it is something I am going to have to investigate on the Internet to find out more. She said it was basically the same canvas used on covered wagons and probably painted with a milk based paint. Yes, I must learn more!

Whenever I go to a historic site, especially ones with homes, the size of things like doorways and stair steps always catch my attention. People were so much smaller back in the 1850's. We now bump our heads on the doorways and our feet feel clumsy on the stair steps. The size of a cradle, it looks like a doll's cradle. Yet, it was used for a baby. I think of Kahlen,  even as a newborn she would have looked huge in it.

Our lives are so different now. In many ways better, but in others, not really. The connection to neighbors, the connection to the land, there is so much we have lost with technology and advancements. Still, I do like my central heating system in the dead of winter.

I am happy I didn't find the lake I thought I was looking for. I will look for it again one day. I hope to bring Kahlen to see the Lincoln log home someday, and maybe a picnic at the lake would be nice afterwards. If I hadn't taken a detour off my planned route, I may have never found this little place in history. I think I am going to make it a habit to venture off of the interstate from time to time. I keep finding wonderful things there.

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