The Rockport Democrat, February 15, 1935

Article was typed as it was worded in the newspaper.

Pioneer Village Committee Outlines Plans for Erecting Stockade and Cabins Here Similar to Those of Lincoln Day


Tracing of Sketch of Village


Bess EhrmannGeorge Honig

(The accompanying pictures are by courtesy of the Evansville Courier)

At the top is a drawing by George H. Honig, sculptor and historian, picturing the Lincoln Pioneer Village as it will appear when completed. The village, which will contain replicas of buildings in Spencer county during Lincoln’s residence here from 1816 to 1930, is being constructed in the Rockport City Park. The buildings, numbered for convenience, are described in the accompanying article.

Left to right, Charles A. Wilbern, member of the town board and chairman of the building committee of the Lincoln Pioneer Village; Mrs. Ada Gentry Rhoades of Rockport, descendant of James Gentry Sr., neighbor of the Lincolns; Horace Sohn, member of the town board and co-chairman of the finance committee; Mrs. Bess V. Ehrmann, president of the Spencer County Historical society and president of the organization sponsoring the construction of the village.

At the right is Honig, who has been a moving spirit in the project and who is superintending construction.

The project is being backed enthusiastically by the people as a whole. Every church, civic and fraternal organization and town board are behind the movement, each contributing finances to forward the work which is being done by the FERA. The village is sponsored by the Spencer County Historical Society of which Mrs. Bess V. Ehrmann is president. She has taken a deep interest in the work and is our greatest student of Lincoln history, being author of the great Lincoln pageant, "When Lincoln Went Flatboating From Rockport," put on at this place. Mr. Honig, who drew up the plans for the village, has done the landscaping and is superintending all work, giving all as a labor of love to his home community.


At the time when the thoughts of the county are tenderly drawn to the memory of that great citizen of the United States and for fourteen years a citizen of our own county, it is very timely to present our readers with a memorial in honor of the great statesman and for mer citizen, to whom a patriotic nation never tires of paying the highest tribute—Abraham Lincoln.

The memorial that Rockport is constructing will be one of the most unique in the country—different from any other in the country, yet, historically interesting as portraying the setting of Lincoln’s boyhood days in Spencer county.

The memorial will be in the nature of a pioneer village, such as were peculiar to the Lincoln period, to be know as the "Lincoln Pioneer Village." Construction is now under way, superintended by our noted citizen and sculptor, George H. Honig, to who full credit is due for his untiring efforts in making his great dream come true and who, during the most disagreeable weather, has remained steadfast on the job of superintending the work. It is hoped to have the work completed by the 4th of July, when the dedication will be made one of the most notable events ever held in southwest Indiana, to which the governors of Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana, the three states directly concerned with Lincoln’s life, will be invited to take part.

Harvey T. Chinn, Horace Sohn and Charles A. Wilbern, members of the town board, and T. C. Basye are members of the building and finance committees, and P.H. Axton is treasurer of the building fund.

Period furniture will be used in the cabins. There are many pieces in the county like that which the Lincolns, Gentrys, Grigsbys and other families used between 1816 and 1830.

Many donations have been received. The first log cabin given is a two-story building taken from the Gentry farm. It is more than 50 years old and was presented by Henry Hoch of Rockport. Three thousand logs on the ground were donated.

The village will cover four of the thirty acres in the City Park. Huge forest trees give it a perfect pioneer setting.

There will be 22 points of interest in the village and environs, as follows:

  1. The home of Daniel Grass, where all the early settlers and distinguished visitors congregated.
  2. The 50-year-old cabin donated by Hoch.
  3. Judge John Pitcher’s Law office in Rockport where Lincoln as a boy walked 17 miles from his home, where Lincoln City now stands, to borrow a law book from Pitcher. Judge Pitcher, 1844, when Lincoln was a Clay elector, accompanied him to Gentryville and nearby towns where Lincoln campaigned at this time.
  1. Willis Snyder’s cabin in Rockport n 1816.
  2. The Old Pigeon Baptist church where Thomas Lincoln and his wife were members and where Abe Lincoln worshiped. This church was built about 1823 and Thomas and Abraham both helped in its construction making window frames and the pulpit. This church is situated about a mile south of Lincoln City and now is a part of the Nancy Hanks Lincoln park.
  3. Samuel Howell and Noah Gordon gave the ground for the church and Owen Griffith hewed the logs, the lumber being whip-sawed.

    The Rev. Adam Shomaker often preached here it is well known that it was from this minister that Abe received his first ideas of emancipation. Other pioneer pastors who preached there were the Revs. Young Lamar, John Richardson, Briscoe, Charles Harper, Stanley Walker and Thomas Sumner.

  4. The home of James Gentry Sr., who came from Kentucky in 1816 with his wife. They located near the town of Gentryville, the town being named for them. The Gentry and Lincoln families were neighbors as long as the Lincolns lived in Spencer county. The Lincolns lived where the Nancy Hanks Lincoln park is situated and the Gentrys where Gentryville cemetery now is situated, about one and three-quarters miles away. The Gentry home was a two-story log cabin known as the "Gentry Mansion." The friendship formed here endured through life. The Lincolns were the guests of the Gentry family at the "mansion" the last night spent in Indiana before going to their new home in Illinois.
  5. The great granddaughter of James Gentry Sr., Mrs. Ada Gentry Rhoades of this city, has many "Lincoln stories" at her command. Her grandfather, James Gentry Jr., often told her of his life on the farm near Gentryville and of the friendship between the Gentry and Lincoln families.

  6. The Daniel Grass store, the first built in Rockport. This was erected in 1818 on the courthouse square.
  7. Thomas Britton home, where the first service ever held by the Methodists in this county was conducted.
  8. Spencer county’s first courthouse.
  9. Rockport’s first tavern, where Ratliff Boon and other pioneer leaders boarded while in Rockport to attend court.
  1. Pioneer house, which will be used for exhibits of pioneer industries, such as weaving, linsey-woolsey, and the revival of weaving of old fashioned coverlets.
  2. Blockhouse fort. There were four in the county, at Enterprise, Grandview and Newtonville and at the mouth of Anderson creek, where Lincoln worked as a ferryman.
  3. Thomas Lincoln’s cabin where Abraham spent 14 of the formative years of his life, from the age of seven until he was 21. The cabin site is included in the Nancy Hanks Lincoln park acreage.
  4. Schoolhouse at Rockport typical of all pioneer school buildings.
  5. Administration building, where souvenirs will be displayed.
  6. The William Jones store, which stood on the site of Gentryville and in which Lincoln worked as a youth. He walked two and one-half miles to and from work and received 30 cents a day. Jones subscribed for the Louisville Journal and Lincoln thus learned of activities of the outside world and improved his reading by reading aloud.
  7. The Gentry store in Gentryville, owned by James Gentry Sr.
  8. The Basye store in Grandview, owned by Taylor Basye and operated from 1820 to1828.
  9. The Reuben Grigsby cooper shop, where both Thomas and Abraham Lincoln worked. This was in Gentryville. The Grigsbys and Lincolns were neighbors and Aaron Grigsby married Sarah Lincoln, sister of Abraham.
  10. A lean-to like the Lincoln’s first cabin in Spencer county.
  11. Stockade and gate.
  12. Indian village on the site of Rockport before the year 1807.