A Mom's Guide to the Land of Lincoln
Frontier life in New Salem
Our first stop: New Salem Historic Site in Petersburg, 20 miles northwest of Springfield. In 1831, a 22-year-old Lincoln moved to this town, a sort of frontier shopping center servicing farmers with a post office, cooperage, blacksmith, cobbler, general stores and tavern.
None of us had heard about this indecisive, six-year phase in Lincoln's life, when he dabbled as a store owner, postmaster, soldier and surveyor, all while impressing the locals with his good humor. But an entire village of re-enactors--weavers, blacksmiths, wool spinners, gardeners and more--helps us understand the era with a lively portrait of frontier life.
The kids connect by twirling the simple wood tops cherished by children of the era. We all take a lesson in multiplication at the "blab school," named for its oral lessons. "Twice one is two, the book is very new," we recite. "Twice two is four, throw it on the floor..."
Moms say Discovered Lincoln was a jack-of-all-trades. Loved the work and craft demonstrations, which illustrate the difficulty of living then.
Kids say Liked the people dressed up from olden times (left). But they talked like us, which seemed weird. We wish there would have been a house of Lincoln's here to look at.