217 North Senate Avenue

Indianapolis, Indiana

Immediate release

No. 175

June 26, 1935

Indianapolis, June – The memory of Abraham Lincoln never will be permitted to grow dim. In recent years, many Lincoln enthusiasts have taken steps to perpetuate the landmarks of those formative years he spent in Indiana. The latest of these, accomplished through the cooperation of the Governor’s Commission on Unemployment Relief with Spencer County Historical Society, will be dedicated on Independence Day, July 4.

It is the Lincoln Pioneer Village at Rockport. Since Lincoln lived in Spencer county from 1816 to 1830 and had many associations with the town of Rockport, it was decided to reconstruct those buildings frequented by him in a model village which would serve as a permanent monument to his memory.

The village covers 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 well-known student of Lincolniana. All construction work was done by ERA workers.

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

Judge John Pitcher’s law office has been reproduced. It was hero that Lincoln frequently walked seventeen miles to borrow law books. The pioneer church of which Lincoln’s father, Thomas Lincoln and his wife, were members, the Azel Dorsey home where Spencer county’s first court was held, and the only two-story building in the village, also have been reproduced Rockport’s first tavern, where Ratliff Boon and other pioneer leaders boarded while in Rockport to attend court, is 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 William Jones store in which Lincoln worked as a young man. He walked two and a half miles to and from work and received thirty cents a day for his work. Lincoln improved his reading ability and learned of the activities of the outside world while in the store, through reading the Louisville Journal, to which Jones subscribed. The second Gentryville building is the Reuben Grigsby cooper shop, where both Thomas and Abraham Lincoln worked. The Grigsby and the Lincolns were neighbors, and Aaron Grigsby married Lincoln’s sister Sarah.

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 Creek, where Lincoln worked as a ferryman.

The administration building consists of two rooms with a covered way between – one of the earliest types of log cabin architecture. All the houses will have furniture typical of their period. Old log chairs, beds, tables and crude utensils will be in their places in the houses. Spinning wheels, old quilts, and rag rugs also will be placed in the houses.

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. An ox cart and covered wagon, both exact reproductions of the vehicles of pioneer days, also will be on the grounds.

Plans to revivify the village are being made for the dedication day. The school will be "kept" by the McGuffyites. "Lincoln" will sell molasses and calico in the Jones store as he did many years ago. Church services will be held in the log cabin church. Housewives will be going about their duties, spinning and carding wool, in the cabins.

Dedication ceremonies will begin at 10 o'clock in the morning, and will continue through the day. Pioneer floats, numerous bands, games and contests will be on the program.

Speeches are scheduled to be delivered by Philip Lutz, Jr., attorney general; Judge Roscoe Kipor of Boonville; Representative John W. Boehne of Evansville; Senator Sherman Minton; F. Harold VanOrman of Evansville, and Mr. Honig. William Fortune, Indianapolis, credited with being the first person to engage in research of Lincoln’s life in Indiana, will attend.

Rockport, a town of fewer than 3,000 persons, is on the Ohio river. In pioneer days, there were two landing places in the town for boats – the upper landing and the lower landing. It was from the lower landing that the flatboats departed for New Orleans. Lincoln, at the age of nineteen, started from this landing on his initial trip to New Orleans where for the first time he saw a slave market. In commemoration of this trip, the citizens of Rockport staged a pageant a few years ago depicting the start of that journey.

Interest in this event was so great, according to Mrs. Bess V. Ehrmann, author of the pageant, president of the Spencer County Historical Society and one of the leaders in the Lincoln Village plans, that it was decided to make a more permanent memorial. According to Mrs. Ehrmann, thousands of persons came from Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois to see the pageant, and an even greater crowd is expected for the dedication of the Lincoln Pioneer Village where spectators will have an opportunity to see life as it was lived in pioneer days.

(This paper has been copied from the original.)