Historical Markers
Lincoln Homestead Historical Marker
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Lincoln Homestead

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
US 422 at twp. Road E of Mount Penn

Dedication Date:
September 1, 1954

Behind the Marker

Lincoln Homestead
The Lincoln Homestead, Exeter Township, Berks County, PA, circa 2000.
Abraham Lincoln never wrote the exact line that is quoted on the historical marker that stands by this ancestral home. He did, however, make several similar statements. He wrote about his ancestors in two different autobiographical sketches, claiming that they were "quakers" who had "fallen away from the peculiar habits of that people" after they had migrated "to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania." In a letter to a distant relative, he once stated that his family had "a vague tradition, that my great-grand father went from Pennsylvania to Virginia; and that he was a quaker." "Further back than this," he added, "I have never heard any thing."

Historians examining records unavailable to Lincoln, have concluded that his ancestors first arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1637. His ancestor, Samuel Lincoln, left East Anglia, England, during a period of economic depression to head for the thriving Puritan community in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Once there, Samuel Lincoln founded an ironworks and fathered a large family of eleven children, including a son, Mordecai.

Lincoln's great-great grandfather, Mordecai (1686-1736) moved his family to New Jersey, where he worked as a blacksmith. After his first wife, Hannah, died, Mordecai remarried and migrated along the Delaware River valley to Chester County, Pennsylvania, and then to Berks County.  There, he built a new family homestead, then died three years later. His oldest son, John (1716-1788), raised the family after his father's death, including Lincoln's grandfather, Abraham (1744-1786), in Pennsylvania, but soon uprooted the family once again, this time for Virginia. They did not stay long, migrating to Kentucky by 1780. Lincoln's father Thomas (1778-1851) was only eight years old when he saw his father killed by Indians as he tried to clear a new farm for the family in Kentucky. In 1806, Thomas married Nancy Hanks, and in 1808, he purchased 300 acres of land in Kentucky. In 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born.

Like many early American families, the Lincolns moved frequently, seeking new land and better economic opportunities. They followed a migration route that was common in the eighteenth century, journeying from central Pennsylvania to the Cumberland and Shenandoah Valleys. From there, they pushed westward, first to North Carolina and then to Kentucky, seeking better land and greater opportunity.
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