Abraham Lincoln the Miller
Jason Duncan, a Vermont native who practiced medicine in the
village, recalled seeing Lincoln working in the mill. He said
that when he first met him, Lincoln "used to unload sacks
of wheat from farmers wagons, measure out and settle with them
for the same, this I believe he followed as long as Offit continued
proprietor of the Mill."
Some Millers will tell you, the reason why Abraham Lincoln
was known as "Honest Abe," was because he was an "Honest
An "Honest Miller" was something to spread the word
to others in the community about............According to traditional
legend, it says that Lincoln walked all night in bad weather to
return two cents that were over charged. In reality, it was two
cents that was over charged in a toll that was collected from
the grist mill operation and not the general store.
According to early American letters and records gradually being
fitted together, the premature death of George Washington, first
president of the United States, was due to great measure to his
insistence on an inspection trip during inclement weather to his
Note: George Washington, who inherited a flour and grist
mill from his brother, installed the improvements of Oliver Evans
into the mill. However, in a thirty year period, he had three
drunken millers, one after another. Every time George Washington
turned around, the miller went across the road to the whiskey
distillery. Ships would come to the wharf waiting for barrels
of flour to ship them to the West Indies, but where was the drunken
miller? When ever George Washington was away from home (in the
service of his country) he would ask in every letter how it the
mill doing? When ever he was at home at Mount Vernon, George Washington
had to make daily trips to inspect the mill and check on the miller.
George Washington got caught is a bad sleet and rain storm, got
strep throat, and died as a result of the cures of the day.
The February both date of Abraham Lincoln (as will as George Washington)
made timely Wheat Flour Institutes's story in its February Food
Facts, on Lincoln's brief career as a flour miller in New Salem,
Illinois. Not a flour mill owner as Washington was (or Thomas
Jefferson an John Quincy Adams), Lincoln nevertheless less had
some unusual mill emergencies to face. As related by C. P. Casey,
"It was from the original mill dam that Lincoln in April,
1832, demonstrated his ingenuity in floating Denton Offutt's flat
boat after it became stranded with a load of grain, flour, barreled
and live port and other merchandise which had set out to deliver
in New Orleans. Lincoln and his crew shifted the cargo forward,
and with several of the local citizens as added ballast, tilted
the boat forward over the dam and drained the water out through
an auger hole which he then plugged . During the delay, Offutt
became convinced that New Salem was a suitable location to operate
"Lincoln returned to New Salem in July of that year and help
erect the store which he later managed. Offutt, with an eye to
future traffic located his stone close to the mill, for in these
days the grinding was slow and frequently farmers would wait for
hours to get their grinding done. Their horses, loaded with a
few bushes of grain, were tethered nearby, sometimes as many as
20 in a line. Offutt soon saw the advisability of operating the
mill as well as the store so leased it and put Lincoln, his right
hand man, in charge.
"The mill, built in 1829 by James Rutledge and his nephew
John Cameron, was supported on rock filled foundations right in
the Sangannon River. Two great wheels were installed, one to saw
logs and the other to grind grain. The wheel that powered the
saw mill was a turbine which rotated on a vertical shaft with
the swift flow of the water through an opening in the dam. The
second wheel which transmitted its power to the stone burrs was
undershot, and turned by the flow of water against the blades.
"Lincoln came to New Salem as a stranger. He left with the
good wishes of a host of friends. He had demonstrated a capacity
for leadership which he, himself, could only suspect in 1831.
During his six years in New Salem, Lincoln clerked in stores,
operated a flour mill, served as postmaster, enlisted in the Black
Hawk War, studied law, entered politics and courted Ann Rutledge.
In the future he was to grow beyond, but never away form his associates
of New Salem days."
The first move toward recrating New Salem was made in 1906. During
1910, more than 250,000 visitors from all parts of the country
visited New Salem State Park, near Springfield, Illinois, to witness
the construction work that is underway to restore the "New
Salem of 1830" where some of the most important chapters
of Abraham Lincoln's life were lived. These visitors have seen
homes, the stores, and the flour mill which now is more than half
From a copy of a page out of an old flour milling journal, no
date or page number known.
Abraham Lincoln, himself knew that he was the son of Abraham
Enloe and Nancy Hanks. Lincoln said, "My mother is from Rutherford
County, and my right name is Enloe, but I have always gone by
the name of my stepfather." Abraham himself knew that people
would refuse to vote for him if they knew he was illegitimate,
and that his mother was also illegitimate (her mother's name was
Lucy Hanks, and her father's name was Michael Tanner), and thus
the log cabin myth was created and the false birth year of 1809.
Abraham (Enloe, Jr.) Lincoln was born February 12, 1804 on Puzzle
Creek farm near Bostic, Rutherford County, North Carolina. Like
George Washington and the "Cherry Tree Stories," only
smallest fraction of the truth about Abraham Lincoln was also
made into stories that make good reading for young people. One
story illustrates the supernatural powers of the small boy, Abe
Lincoln, as told by a schoolmate, Austin Gallaher. Austin says,
"Abe often went to the mill, carrying a half bushel of corn,m
and after it was ground he carried it back seven miles on his
shoulder, making a fourteen mile trip" Austin Gallaher (also
spelled Gollaher) said that young Abe was "running around
the floor" at his folks wedding. He also said, "He was
eight year, when he fell into the creek, this being in the year
of 1812, (saved Abe from drowning when he was eight and Austin
was 11 years old,) this boy was two years old when his mother
was married, and he may have been six months old when he was taken
from North Carolina, but it is not likely that he was older."
And the majority of historians, believe he did this. It is historical
camouflage of fact and date fixing in the professional writings
of Abraham Lincoln creating the myth of "Honest Abe."
He never mentioned the story extensively told in Kentucky about
"Little Abraham riding away from the wedding between his
mother and Thomas Lincoln."
What was the "Lincoln mystery" that Robert Todd Lincoln
held secret in the "Little Box" was it the truth about
the Abraham Lincoln ancestry or the truth about who really assassinated
President Abraham Lincoln. The story says that Robert Todd Lincoln
his these papers in one of the columns that was beginning built
in the Pension Building in Washington, D. C.
Source: "The Eugenics of President Abraham Lincoln,
His German-Scotch Ancestry Irrefutably Established from Recent
Discovered Documents," by James Caswell Coggins, Goodwell
Press, Milligan College, Tennessee, 1940, "Haunted Washington,"
and other National Park Service publications.
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