Published Each Month By The

Governor's Commission On Unemployment Relief

217 North Senate Avenue

Indianapolis, Indiana

Wayne Coy - Administrator




Lincoln Pioneer Village At Rockport Built by E.R.A. Workers Dedicated July 4th

"Abraham Lincoln" came back to Indiana on the Fourth to sell calico and molasses to his old friends and neighbors down in Spencer county. He brought with him his father, Thomas Lincoln, his step-mother and his sister Sarah, and they all took part in the dedication of the Lincoln Pioneer Village in Rockport.

Although it was 105 years since the sturdy son of Nancy Hanks Lincoln departed from the southern Indiana trading center, he was immediately recognized by his old customers at the William Jones store. He renewed acquaintance with such pioneer Spencer county citizens as Lawyer John Pitcher, Reuben Grigsby, who used to run the old cooper shop, Azel Dorsey and others.

Throughout the day they recalled incidents that occurred in that part of the state during the years from 1816 to 1830, the period that Lincoln lived in Indiana. They talked of their coming to Indiana from Kentucky, the admission of Indiana to the union, problems of the day, "crowded" conditions of the southern part of the state by 1830, and of their decision to move on into Illinois.

The village visited by these historical characters was constructed on a four-acre tract in a wooded part of the old Rockport fairgrounds. It was designed by George Honig, sculptor who did the bas reliefs on the Henderson, Kentucky court house and is a well-known student of Lincolniana. All construction work was done by ERA workers under the supervision of the Governor’s Commission on Unemployment Relief and the Spencer County Historical Society.

The grounds are enclosed in an old-fashioned stockade, and all the buildings have been constructed from forest trees. Ten buildings are completed and were open for inspection on the Fourth.

Judge John Pitcher’s law office, where Lincoln frequently came to borrow law books, has been reproduced. The pioneer church of which Lincoln’s father was a member, the Azel Dorsey home where Spencer county’s first court was held, and the only two-story building in the village, also have been reconstructed. Rockport’s first tavern, where Ratliff Boon and other pioneer leaders boarded while in Rockport to attend court, has been included, as well as the old school house at Rockport, typical of all pioneer buildings. A "brush arbor" has been built in front of the school.

Replicas of two buildings which stood in Gentryville have been constructed in the village. First is the one-room William Jones store to which Lincoln walked two and a half miles each day and received thirty cents a day for his work. The second Gentryville building is the Reuben Grigsby cooper shop where both Thomas and Abraham Lincoln worked.

The home of Daniel Grass, where all early settlers and distinguished visitors congregated, has been reconstructed, as well as a blockhouse fort. There were four such forts in the county, at Enterprise, Grandview and Newtonville, and at the mouth of Anderson Crook, where Lincoln worked as a ferryman. There is an administration building consisting of two rooms with a covered way between – one of the earliest types of log cabin architecture.

All the houses have furniture typical of their period. Old log chairs, beds, tables and crude utensils are in their places in the houses, as well as spinning wheels, old quilts, and rag rugs.

The grounds of the village have been restored to the state they probably were in at the time Lincoln lived in the county. A pioneer garden has been planted, and two wells, one with a windlass and one with a sweep, are on the grounds, as well as an ox cart and covered wagon, both exact reproductions of the vehicles of pioneer days. A clay pipe mold 100 years old is on display in one of the houses. The village was brought to life for the dedication day. School was "kept" by the McGuffyites, church services were held in the log cabin church, housewives went about their duties spinning and carding wool in the cabins, and business was conducted in the store.

(This paper has been copied from the original.)