It was at her knee he learned his first lessons from the Bible. With his sister Sarah, a girl two years his senior, he listened with wonder and delight to the Bible stories, fairy tales, and legends with which the gentle mother entertained and instructed them when the labors of the day were done.
When Abraham was about four years old, the family moved from the farm on Nolin Creek to another about fifteen miles distant. There the first great event in his life took place. He went to school. Primitive as was the log-cabin schoolhouse, and elementary as were the acquirements of his first schoolmaster, it was a wonderful experience for the boy, and one that he never forgot.
In 1816 Thomas Lincoln again decided to make a change. He was enticed by stories that came to him from Indiana to try his fortunes there. So, once more the little family “pulled up stakes” and moved on to the place selected by the father in Spencer County, about a mile and a half from Gentryville. It was a long, toilsome journey through the forest, from the old home in Kentucky to the new one in Indiana. In some places they had to clear their way through the tangled thickets as they journeyed along. The stock of provisions they carried with them was supplemented by game snared or shot in the forest and fish caught in the river. These they cooked over the wood fire, kindled by means of tinder and flint. The interlaced branches of trees and the sky made the roof of their bedchamber by night, and pine twigs their bed.
When the travelers arrived at their destination, there was no time for rest after their journey. Some sort of shelter had to be provided at once for their accommodation. They hastily put up a “half-faced camp”—a sort of rude tent, with an opening on one side. The framework of the tent was of upright posts, crossed by thin slabs, cut from the trees they felled. The open side, or entrance, was covered with “pelts,” or half-dressed skins of wild animals. There was no ruder dwelling in the wilds of Indiana, and no poorer family among the settlers than the new adventurers from Kentucky. They were reduced to the most primitive makeshifts in order to eke out a living. There was no lack of food, however, for the woods were full of game of all kinds, both feathered and furred, and the streams and rivers abounded with fish. But the home lacked everything in the way of comfort or convenience.
Abraham, who was then in his eighth year, has been described as a tall, ungainly, fast-growing, long-legged lad, clad in the garb of the frontier. This consisted of a shirt of linsey-woolsey, a coarse homespun material made of linen and wool, a pair of home-made moccasins, deerskin leggings or breeches, and a hunting shirt of the same material. This costume was completed by a coonskin cap, the tail of the animal being left to hang down the wearer’s back as an ornament.