Abe's Youth

Abe's Youth

Shaping the Future President
William Bartelt and Josh Claybourn
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/01/2019
ISBN: 978-0-253-04392-4
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Since his death, Abraham Lincoln has been celebrated as savior of the Union, proponent for emancipation, president of the United States, and skilled statesman. Although Lincoln's adult life has been well documented and analyzed, most biographers have regarded his early years as inconsequential to his career and accomplishments.

In 1920 a group of historians known as the Lincoln Inquiry were determined to give Lincoln's formative years their due. Abe's Youth takes a look into their writings, which focus on Lincoln's life between 7 and 21 years of age. By filling in the gaps on Lincoln's childhood, these authors shed light on how his experiences growing up influenced the man he became. As the first fully annotated edition of the Lincoln Inquiry papers, Abe's Youth offers indispensable reading for anyone hoping to learn about Lincoln's early life.

Author Bio

William E. "Bill" Bartelt is a Lincoln historian and author of There I Grew Up: Remembering Abraham Lincoln's Indiana Youth and other books. For many years Bartelt worked as a ranger and historian at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. He is a board member of the Abraham Lincoln Association and the Indiana Historical Society, and received the Indiana Historical Society's "Hoosier Historian" award in 2003. 

Joshua A. Claybourn is an attorney and author or editor of several books, including Our American Story: The Search for a Shared National Narrative. A widely published commentator on legal, political, and historical topics, Claybourn has also appeared as a guest on CNN, MSNBC, and NHK. He is a board member of the Abraham Lincoln Association.



The editors have at last made easily available a host of sources, barely known or unknown even to Lincoln experts, and this compactness alone provides their purpose. Yet for the casual reader interested in the springtime of Lincoln's life, these now-uncovered tales also trot along at a summertime clip. It is fine reading what Herndon missed, the Indiana historians found. Among these 30 short sections, we find rich clues to such questions as 'Why did Lincoln become a Henry Clay Whig rather than an Andrew Jackson Democrat?' and 'Was his background a burden, or an inspiration, to his later greatness?' Women like Ida Tarbell and Bess V. Ehrmann; men like John Iglehart and Roscoe Kiper now blaze our path anew. Here you will even find precise details from a settler on how to make a fire, and the fascinating terms those folk used for the tools.


James M. Cornelius, Ph.D., Editor, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association


William Bartelt and Joshua Claybourn have done Lincoln scholars and the general public an immensely valuable service. Aware of both the value and the limitations of the Lincoln Inquiry's evidence regarding Lincoln's Hoosier roots, they have here produced a careful, meticulous and balanced volume of primary source material that will be indispensable for anyone who wishes to investigate Lincoln's Indiana years.


Brian Dirck, Professor of History, Anderson University, and author of Lincoln in Indiana

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Table of Contents




Works from Indiana's Lincoln Inquiry

Part 1: Lincoln's Hoosier Influences

1. Lincoln's Boyhood Days in Indiana / Roscoe Kiper

2. Lincoln's Environment in Indiana / Roscoe Kiper

3. Lincoln in Indiana / William Fortune

Part 2: Lincoln's Neighbors and Influences

4. Lincoln's Indiana Neighbors / Bess V. Ehrmann

5. Life of James Gentry Jr. / J. Helen Rhoades

6. The Grigsbys / Calder (Bess) Ehrmann

7. More Lincoln Memories / Nancy Grigsby Inco

8. Biographical Sketch of Josiah and Elizabeth (Anderson) Crawford / Will Adams

9. Daniel Grass / Laura Mercy Wright

10. The Athe Meeks Sr. Tragedy / Aaron Meeks

11. The Mystery of Lincoln's Melancholy / Louis A. Warren

12. Lincoln and the Wool-Carder's Beautiful Niece / Jesse N. Weik

13. Word Pictures of Pioneer Families and Lincoln Contemporaries / Bess V. Ehrmann

14. Interviews with Spencer County Pioneers about 1895 / T. H. Masterson

15. Early Days in Spencer County / Daniel Hayford

Part 3: Lincoln's Neighborhood and Environment

16. The Lincolns and Their Home in Spencer County, Indiana / C. C. Scheeder

17. An Interview with James Atlas Jones on the Lincoln Cabin in Spencer County / George H. Honig

18. The Lincolns' Eastward Environment / Thomas James de la Hunt

19. Some Early Troy History / Sallie Bergenroth

20. Early Agriculture in Spencer County, Indiana / David H. Morgan

21. Materia Medica of Pioneer Indiana / H. C. Knapp

Part 4: Lincoln and the Law

22. Environment and Opportunities of Lincoln in Indiana / Elbert Hayford

23. John A. Brackenridge / Eldora Minor Raleigh

24. John Pitcher / Alice L. Harper Hanby

25. Judge John Pitcher / John E. Cox

Part 5: The Lincoln Inquiry

26. The Environments of Abraham Lincoln in Indiana: The Best Witnesses / Anna C. O'Flynn

27. The Lincolns in Spencer County / Ida D. Armstrong

28. The Artist's Ideal of Lincoln / George H. Honig

29. What Indiana Did for Lincoln / Bess V. Ehrmann

30. Correspondence Between Lincoln Historians and This Society / John H. Iglehart

Lincoln and Southwestern Indiana Chronology