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The Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln Memorial

Download: Sarah Bush Johnston (720kb PDF) 

Sarah Bush was born in Kentucky in 1788, the third daughter of Christopher and Hanna Bush, in their family of nine children. By the time she was two, the family had moved to the Elizabethtown area and Sarah grew up here.

When she was 18, in 1806, Sarah married a local boy, Daniel Johnston. The marriage lasted ten years and produced two daughters and a son before Daniel died of the cholera in 1816.

In 1818 Sarah bought a 14' x 14' log cabin from Samuel Haycraft, Sr. and moved her children into it. They were proud and hearty pioneers, and Sarah was determined to rear her children properly. They often suffered hardships but their strong love for this land and for one another pulled them through.

She became the stepmother of Abraham Lincoln when he was 10 years old. Her love and good character helped to mold the young boy into the sensitive leader that he became.

In the late 1700's a family by the name of Lincoln settled in the area now known as Springfield, Ky. A son of that family, Thomas Lincoln, came to live and work in the Elizabethtown area in the early 1800's.

Tom Lincoln was acquainted with young Sarah Bush and her family, but the year Sarah married Daniel Johnston, Tom Lincoln returned to Springfield, Ky. where he married the lovely dark haired Nancy Hanks. Tom and Nancy immediately came back to live in the Elizabethtown area, and their first baby, little Sarah Lincoln was born here the following year.

Two years later the Lincolns moved to the Sinking Spring Farm near Hodgenville, Ky, where within a few weeks Nancy gave birth to a baby boy on Feb. 12, 1809. That baby was named Abraham Lincoln and little did anyone suspect that he would one day become President of the United States.

In 1811 the Lincolns moved to the Knob Creek Farm, some ten miles away and there they remained for five years. In 1816, the year Sarah Bush Johnston lost her husband Daniel, the Lincolns moved away from Kentucky and settled near a place now known as Lincoln City, Indiana. Within two years, Nancy Hanks Lincoln would be dead of the "milk sick".

Abraham Lincoln was 9 years old, and his sister Sarah was 11, when their mother died. Life was hard and lonely.
In the Fall of 1819, Thomas Lincoln left his two children in the care of a cousin who was then living with them and rode back to Kentucky where he had spent so many years. Upon arriving here he learned that Sarah Bush Johnston was widowed with three children to raise. Thomas Lincoln called on Sarah, courted her and asked her to become his wife and return with him to Indiana where they could raise all the children together.

Thomas Lincoln and Sarah Bush Johnston were married in Elizabethtown on December 2, 1819, in an old log house which stood at the present address of 117 North Main Street. A copy of their marriage bond may be found at the local library.

Sarah and her three children immediately left Kentucky, traveling with Thomas by team and wagon, and carrying all of her household goods. Sarah never returned to Kentucky again.
The Lincoln family remained in Indiana until 1830, when they moved on to Illinois, finally settling in present day Coles County, Ill. Their two room log cabin there was the scene of Thomas' death in 1851 and Sarah also died there in 1869, at the age of 81, four years after the death of her beloved stepson Abraham Lincoln.

The Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln Memorial has been established to keep alive these memories of our PAST, to help teach this part of our history in the PRESENT and to preserve these facts for the FUTURE.