A New Mother and Schools

Mr. Lincoln's Home Untidy—Need of a Wife and Mother—Remembers a Friend of his Early Manhood—Married—Brings his Bride Home—Her “Household Stuff”—The Second Mrs. Lincoln Better Educated than the First—Has Floor made and Windows supplied—Abraham's Welcome to his Stepmother and her Children—What Dennis Hanks says—Dennis Married one of her Daughters—Dorsey opens School—School- house described—Arithmetic—“Trapping up”—Crawford's School—Crawford's Influence—His Prophecy about Abe—Example of Abe's Honesty—What Nat Grigsby says—Abe's Compositions—Opposes Cruelty to Animals—Defends a Terrapin—His Plea—Crawford's Praise—The Rule of Three—Peacemaker—An Example—Best Spelling—Spelling D-e-f-i-e-d—Teaching “Manners”—Abe's Appearance—Swaney's School—John Hanks

Mr. Lincoln remained a widower until December 1819. During this time his only housekeeper was his daughter Sarah. Abraham was a “handy boy” about the cabin, and often rendered timely aid to his sister in her daily work. He became so expert in house-hold matters that, a few years later, when he “worked out” among the farmers, their wives pronounced him the “best hand,” because he was so “handy,” and was willing to make fires, bring wood and water, or tend the baby. It was evidently a good school for him, since his manhood was characterized by being “handy about the house.” A dweller in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham commenced his public life, a citizen, remembers how he “used to draw the baby back and forth in front of his house, early in the summer morning, while his wife was getting breakfast, at the same time reading a book that he held in one hand.”

But Thomas Lincoln needed a wife, and his son needed a mother. Household affairs had been left “at loose ends,” as they are likely to be where there is no mother to superintend. There was not that neatness and order necessary to make even a cabin home attractive; and what clothes the children had were in a very dilapidated condition. It was both wise and necessary for Lincoln to go in search of a wife.

He remembered Sally Bush of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, to whom he once proposed, but who preferred another, one Johnson by name. She married the latter instead of Lincoln. Her husband died three years before Mrs. Lincoln did, and Thomas Lincoln knew that she was a widow. Where would he be so much inclined to go as there for a good wife? Where could he go with more hope of success?

Lincoln posted away to Kentucky, found Widow Johnson, proposed, and was accepted. On the following day they were married. Mrs. Johnson possessed a good supply of furniture for that day, so much as to require a four-horse team to remove it to Indiana. She owned a bureau that cost forty dollars, a clothes- chest, table and six chairs, together with a quantity of bedding, crockery, tin-ware, and iron-ware. Ralph Browne, Mr. Lincoln’s cousin, removed both goods and bride, with her three children—John, Sarah, and Matilda—to Indiana. With this rather large accession for one match, Thomas Lincoln numbered eight souls in his household—all to dwell in a cabin with a single room and loft. Still it was, on the whole, as the sequel will show, the best bargain that Thomas Lincoln ever made.

Abraham was filled with wonder on the arrival of his new mother and her goods. Such a quantity of “household stuff” his eyes never beheld before; and he could scarcely believe that his home would boast, henceforth, a “bureau, clothes-chest, and real chairs.” His step-mother, too, won his heart at once. He thought she was just the woman to own such a bureau—the latter was a fitting accompaniment to the former.

The second Mrs. Lincoln was better educated than the first. She could not only read and write, but she was reared in girlhood under more favourable circumstances than Nancy Hanks. In her teens she was rather the belle of the town, or, at least, she was one of them. One person said “she was the best and proudest of the Bushes.” She dressed better, was more tidy and brighter than most of the girls around her. The girl was mother to the woman, so that Thomas Lincoln found he had a wife in her who was ambitious for personal appearance and comfort. One of the first things she set her husband about, after settling in Indiana, was to make a floor to the cabin. Then she posted him away to the only place where he could buy window-sashes and doors, twenty or thirty miles distant, for these indispensable articles. When the Lincoln cabin had a floor, a real door and real windows, and was furnished with a veritable

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