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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Grigsby, Nathaniel. 'Nathaniel Grigsby (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon111.html


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76. Nathaniel Grigsby (William H. Herndon Interview).

Gentryville Ind. Septr 12th 1865

My name is N. Grigsby — am 54 years of age — Knew Abm Lincoln well — My father Came from Ky in the fall of 1815 and settled in what is called now Spencer Co — once a part and portion of Perry — Thomas Lincoln moved to this State in the year 1816 — or 1817 — He came in the fall of the year and Crossed the Ohio River at what is Called Ephraim Thompson's Ferry about 2½ miles west of Troy — The Country was a wilderness and there were no roads from Troy to the place he settled which place is about 1½ miles East of Gentryville — the town in which I now live and you are writing. Thomas Lincoln Lincoln was a large man — Say 6 feet or a little up — strong & Muscular — not nervous — . Thomas Lincoln was a man of good morals — good habits and Exceedingly good humored — he could read and sign his name — write but little. Mrs. Lincoln the mother of Abraham was a woman about 5 ft — 7 inches high — She had dark hair — light hazel Eye — complexion light or Exceedingly fair —. Thomas Lincoln & his wife had 2 children — one Sally and one Abraham — Sally was about 10 ys when she landed in Indiana — Abe was about 8 or 9 years of age. Thomas Lincoln when he landed in Indiana Cut his way to his farm with the Axe felling the forest as he went which was thick & dense — no prairies from the Ohio to his place — . I am informed that he came in a horse waggon to his farm — don't know

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but have heard this said in the family — : Abm Lincoln & Sally & myself all went to school — we 1st went to school to Andy Crawford in the year 1818, in the winter — the same year that Mrs Lincoln died she having died in Octr — Abe went to school nearly a year say — 9 mo — I was going to school all this time and saw Lincoln there most, if not all the time — The 2d School Master we went to was a Mr Hazel Dorsy — Abe Lincoln went to school to Hazel about 6 months — I went to school all the time — saw Lincoln there all or at least most of the time. We had to go about 2 miles to school — The 3d time we went to School was to a Mr Swaney who taught 6 mo. Lincoln did not go to school to him all the time Lincoln had to walk about 4 miles — Lincoln was, about, the 1st school 9 or 10 ys of age — The 2d school, he was about 14 or 15 and the 3d School he was about 16 or 18. Lincoln was Large of his age — Say at 17 — he was 6 & 2 inches tall — weighed about 160 pounds or a little more — he was Stout — withy-wirey — . When we started to School we had Dilworths' Spelling book [1] and the American Spelling book [2] — not Websters [3] I think — Lincoln ciphered at Crawfords school — Dorsys & Swanys — He used Pikes arithmetic — . [4] Ray's [5] was sometimes used — . We only wrote — spelled & ciphered — . We had Spelling Matches frequently — Abe always ahead of all the classes he Ever was in — When we went to Crawford he tried to learn us manners. &c. He would ask one of the schollars to retire from the School room — Come in and then some schollar would go around and introduce him to all the Schollars — male & female. Lincoln was a Studious. Lincoln while going to School to Crawford would write short sentences against cruelty to animals. We were in the habit of catching Turrapins — a Kind of turtle and put fire on their back and Lincoln would Chide us — tell us it was wrong — would write against it — Lincoln wrote Poetry while he was going to School to Dorsy — . Essays & Poetry were not taught in the school — Abe took it up of his own accord. He wrote a good Composition against Cruelty to animals whilst going to Dorsy and Swany. He wrote Poetry when going to these men. These things I remember & Know — . Cannot remember of his reading — any book — or books Excepting Esops fables — Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress — the Bible — Robinson Crusoe Life of Washington — Dupee's Hymn book [6] — Our libraries consisted of Spelling books — Bibles — Arithmetics — Song books. Lincoln was Kindly disposed toward Every body and Every thing — He scarcely Ever quarreled — was prompt & honorable — He never was an intemperate lad: he did drink his dram as well as all others did, preachers & Christians included — Lincoln was a temperate drinker. When

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he went out to work any where would Carry his books with and would always read whilst resting —

We wore buckskin pants — and linsey wolsey hunting coat to school. This was our school dress — our Sunday dress and Every day dress. Mr Lincoln was long & tall and like the balance of us he wore low shoes — short socks, wool being Scarce — between the shoe and Sock & his britches — made of buckskin there was bare & naked 6 or more inches of Abe Lincoln shin bone. He would always come to school thus — good humoredly and laughing — He was always in good health — never was sick — had an Excellent Constitution — & took Care of it —

Lincoln did not do much hunting — sometimes went Coon hunting & turkey hunting of nights — Whilst other boys were idling away their time Lincoln was at home studdying hard — would cipher on the boards — wooden fire shovels — &c — by the light of the fire — that burnt on the hearth — had a slate sometimes — but if not handy would use boards — He would shave boards bright and cipher on them — dirty them — re-shave them Abe would set up late reading & rise Early doing the Same

Mrs Lincoln Abes Mother was born _________ and died in the fall — Octr 1818 — leaving her 2 children — Sally Lincoln was older than Abe — and Abraham — Sally married Aaron Grigsby — my brother — in Aug. 1826 — she died in about 2 years, &c — in 1828 —

Mrs Lincoln the mother of Abe Lincoln — was a woman Know for the Extraordinary Strength of her mind among the family and all who knew her: she was superior to her husband in Every way. She was a brilliant woman — a woman of great good sense and Modesty. Those who Knew her best — with whom I have talked say she was a woman of pale Complexion — dark hair — sharp features — high forehead — bright Keen gray — or hazle Eyes —. Thos Lincoln & his wife were really happy in Each others presence — loved one an other. Thomas Lincoln was not a lazy man — but a [tinker?] — a piddler — always doing but doing nothing great — was happy — lived Easy — & contented. had but few wants and Supplied these. He wanted few things and Supplied them Easily — His wants were limited by wanting few things. Sally was a quick minded woman & of extraordinary Mind — She was industrious — more so than Abraham — Abe worked almost alone from the head — whilst she labored both. Her good humored laugh I can see now — is as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. She could like her brother Abe meet & greet a person with the very Kindest greeting in the world — make you Easy at the touch & word — He mind, though my brothers wife — was an intellectual & intelligent woman — However not so much as her mother —

My brother Wm Grigsby and John D Johnston a step brother of Abe had a severe fight — it was [attended?] from all around the neighborhood — Coming 18 Miles — strong men Came — bullies Came — Abe was there — Abe & my brother first had the quarrel — Abe being large & stronger than my brother turned over his Step brother to do his fighting — so they met — fought — fought ½ mile from Gentryville. There was a store here & probably a grocery — and a blacksmith Shop — This was the town then, of Gentryville — Johnson was badly hurt, but

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not whipt — My brother was unhurt seriously so — Johnson & my bro were brave Strong men.

A. Lincoln came here in 1844 and made a speech for Clay: He was a Clay Elector in Ills for the race between Polk & Clay. Lincoln Spoke here — once — once at Rockport — and onc Carlin township about 3/4 of a mile from the home farm. Lincoln in Early years — say from 1820 to 25 was tending towards Democracy — He afterwards Changed — Parties at this time ran Jackson — Adams and others. What changed Lincoln I dont remember — we were all Jackson boys & men at this time in Indiana —

Lincoln did go to New Orleans: he went to NO about 1828 with a man by the name of Allen Gentry who took — as well as owned the supercargo to New Orleans — The good were sold down on the river — Abe went as a bow hand — working the foremost oars — getting $8.00 per month — from the time of starting to his returning home. Gentry paid his way back on a boat. This I Know. He made rails for Crawford [7] — take jobs of work sometimes — would go to the river — the Ohio — 13 or 16 miles distant and there work. It is 60 miles to the Wabash — he did work on the Wabash [8] — but on the Ohio — Lincoln did not work on the Louisvill Can, but he may have done it nevertheless —

Lincoln did write what is called "The book of Chronicles" [9] — a Satire on the Grigsby's & Josiah Crawford — not the School Master, but the man who loaned Lincoln the Life of Washington — . The Satire was good — sharp cutting and showed the Genius of the boy: it hurt us then, but its all over now. There is now no family in the broad land who after this loved Lincoln so well and who now look upon him as so great a man. We all voted for him — all that could — children and grand children — I was for Lincoln & Hamlin, first, last, & always — 2d Election I was at Decatur Alabama in the service of the US —

We had political discussions from 1825 to 1830 the year Lincoln left for Ills. We attended them — heard questions discussed — talked Evry thing over & over and in fact wore it out — We learned much in this way.

I said heretofore that Abe made his mark of manhood Even while in Indiana. His mind & the Ambition of the man soared above us. He naturally assumed the leadership of the boys — He read & thoroughly read his books whilst we played — . Hence he was above us and became our guide and leader & in this position he never failed to be the leader. He was Kind — jocular — witty — wise — honest — just — human full of integrity — Energy — & acting. When he appeared in Company the boys would gather & cluster around him to hear him talk. He made fun & cracked his jokes making all happy, but the jokes & fun were at no mans Expense — He wounded no mans feelings

Mr Lincoln was figurative in his Speeches — talks & conversations. He argued much from Analogy and Explained things hard for us to understand by stories —

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maxims — tales and figures. He would almost always point his lesson or idea by some story that was plain and near as that we might instantly see the force & bearing of what he said —

Never heard in the family or out of it that the Lincolns were quakers coming from Pennsylvania — . The History is that they came from Virginia [10]

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2320 — 28; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:85 — 93

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Grigsby, Nathaniel. 'Nathaniel Grigsby (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon111.html
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