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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Hanks, Dennis. 'Dennis Hanks (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon103.html


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72. Dennis Hanks (William H. Herndon Interview).

Charleston Ills Sept 8th 1865 —

(Hon. O. B. Ficklin — and others told me to be careful about what Hanks said)

Dennis Hanks says he is [blank space] years old — Knew Thos Lincoln — Abe & Sister in Ky — think Miss Lincoln went to school in Ky — says that the Lincoln family came from England about 1650 — Two Lincoln's came to Virginia — think on the head waters of the Roanoke — probably in Halifax Co — were not Puritans — were not Quakers — never were in Penn. I opposed Abe in Politics when he became whig — was till 20 years of age a Jackson Democrat — turned whig — or whiggish about 1828 — 9 — think Col Jones [1] made him a whig — dont know it — The two original Lincolns had [blank space] children — (Here I closely & critically Examined Hanks and he confessed he knew nothing — Except as above stated — backed down from his Chicago letter to me. [2] Dennis gets gloriously tight — drinks to hard — is not to be relied on always — ) — think Abe Lincoln's grandfathers name was Mordacai [3] He was born in Virginia about 1740 — Mordecai the grandfather of Abe, had 3 sons — Mordecai — Thos — & Josias — & 2 daughters — Krume married one of them — Abe was born in 1809 on the farm his father sold to [blank space] — the farm is about 4½ SE of Hodgensville Ky — Hardin Co — or now La Rue. The farm is on Knob Creek — Abe used to go with me down the branch to shoot fish in puddles & holes washed by the water — killed a fawn — Abe was tickled to death — Abe Exhibited no special

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traits in Ky, Except a good kind — somewhat wild nature — Thos Lincoln moved to Indiana about 1816 in what was Called Perry Co — now Spencer Co Indiana — moved on 2 horses — not a waggon — Abe rode with his mother & Sally with her father — Lincolns farm in Indiana is about 15 north of the Ohio River — and about 80 miles NW of Hodgensville. The Illinois farm of Thos Lincoln is worth about $1200 — Knew all these farms well — the Ky farm when Thos Lincoln left it contained in cultivated land only six acres running up & down the branch — about 40 feet wide on either side — Hills 300 or 400 feet high — Covered once with heavy timber — some ceder on the Knobs — Shrubs — &c. up the hills sides — Vallys narrow and deep —

When we landed in Indiana in 1817 I think there were lots of bears — deer — turkeys — ate them as meat — water & bread — the Country was full of chestnuts — Pawpaws — wild pea vines — or wild [lusty?] peas &c — Could track bears — wolves — horses — cattle & men for miles through and by the pea vine — would direct People by the tracks thus made when they wanted to find a place to go — got hogs in Ky — took them to Indiana — bears got among them — scared them — swam the Ohio went back to old homes in Ky — Saw them — knew them —: Abe could when 15 years of age or in the year 1824, could hear a Sermon — Speech or remark and repeat it accurately — He would go home from the church say to the boys & girls that he could repeat the Sermon — got on Stumps — logs — fences and do it well and accurately — Old People have heard him do it o'er & o'er again — have told me so — Could do the Same in what he heard and read. Lincoln would frequently make political and other Speeches to the boys — he was calm — logical & clear alwys — He attended trials — went to Court — read the Rev. Statutes of Indiana dated 1824 — Heard law Speeches & listened to law trials &c &c — Lincoln was lazy — a very lazy man — He was always reading — scribbling — writing — Ciphering — writing Poetry &c.&c — He was a head & shoulders above us all — would learn us — set our Copies — The school only taught reading — writing and Ciphering — Ciphered up to single rule of three, never got up to the double rule of three [4] —. Thomas Lincoln Entered the farm in Ills in 1834 — Mortaded it to the School Comms — Abe paid the debt $200 — Thos Lincoln conveyed the farm to Abe reserving in the land a life Estate for him & his wife — and at their death the fee goes to Abe — Abe gave a bond to — Jno D Johnson — saying that if Johnson & his heirs woud on the death of Thos Lincoln & wife and in one year thereafter pay said $200 — that he Lincoln would convey to them — if they would pay interest to L at the rate of 6 per ct from the death of Thos L & wife — deed dated Octr 25th 1841 — Bond or agreement of Abe to Johnson about same date — (see Records in Charleston Ills — Book C.E.G — &c). [5]

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To the question put by me to Hanks — "How did Lincoln & yourself learn so much in Indiana under such disadvantages" he replied — "We learned by sight — scent & hearing — We heard all that was said & talked over & over the questions heard — wore them slick — greasy & threadbare — Went to political & other speeches & gathering as you do now — we would hear all sides & opinions — talk them over — discuss them agreeing or disagreeing — Abe as I said before was originally a Democrat after the order of Jackson — so was his father — so we all were — Abe turned whig in 1827 — 8. — He preached Made Speeches — read for us — Explained to us &c — sang from Watts hymns — from Dupay's [6] — . Abe was a cheerful boy — a witty boy — was humorous always — sometimes would get sad — not very often — He would Joke — tell stories — run rigs — &c on the boys — Didn't love the Company of girls — didn't love crowds as a general rule — was a retired boy — & a good listener to his Superiors — bad to his inferiors — that is he Couldn't Endure Jabber — Could good [sense?] while he was learning —

One day a Yankee came round and said to Thomas Lincoln that he could find water on his farm — would do so by a divining rod &c. for the sum of five dollars — Old Man Lincoln couldnt beleive such stuff — Thos Lincoln had dug his hill to find water with a honey Comb as it were — wanted water badly — but said to the Yankee this — "Do you suppose I am going to give you $5 — for a pig in the polk". In Gentryvill about 1 m west of Thomas L's farm Lincoln would go and tell his jokes — stories &c. and he was so odd — original and humorous & witty that all the People in town would gather around him — He would keep them there till midnight or longer telling stories — cracking jokes — & running rigs [7] — &c — . I would get tired — want to go home — cuss Abe — &c. most hearty Lincoln was a great talker — a good reader & was a kind of news boy — Hanks went to Indiana about the time of the 2 marriage in 1819 of Thos Lincoln. Abe was so attatched to reading that we had to buy him — hire him to work — bought him, I think the Columbian Orator or American Preceptor. [8] We were Excellent bow shots — a squirrel couldnt Escape unless he got in his hole and then if Abe took the notion he would pull him or it out of his hole — Abe was born on Knob Creek [9] which runs into the rolling fork — thence into & then into the Ohio River —. Abe made no mark in Ky worthy of being Known: when he left there he was only 7 ys old — The date of the Copy book which you have got or a leaf of which &c — is dated 1824 — one part & the 2d pt 1826 — This book he made in Indiana — I bought the paper — gave it to Abe — Barclay's dictionary is dated 1799 [10]

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& the family Bible 1818 — Abe used both — his hand writing is in both — in a rough School boy's hand — Hall brought the Dictionary to Indiana in [blank space] & Thos Lincoln brought the Bible in 1818 — or 19 — Lincoln didnt read the Bible half as much as said: he did read it — I thought he nver believed it and think so still —

This I copied from notes taken on the Spot nearly in Hanks own words — copied this the 20th dy of Sept 1865 — in my office in presence of Zane & our Student Johnson read it to him — I say it is correct [11]

On the Copy book of Mr Lincoln — a part of which is given me is this Expression

"Abraham Lincoln is my name
I'll be a good boy — God knows when"

This is in his hand writing and I think I give the Exact words.

W H Herndon

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2301— 8; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:104 — 10

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Hanks, Dennis. 'Dennis Hanks (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon103.html
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