“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harrodsburg in Mercer County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

The Lincoln Marriage Cabin

The Lincoln Marriage Cabin Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
1. The Lincoln Marriage Cabin Marker
Inscription. The marriage of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks took place on the Beechland property of Nancy’s uncle, Richard Berry Sr., in Washington County, about twenty-five miles southwest of here, on June 12, 1806. The ceremony was presided over by the Reverend Jesse Head, a Methodist minister.

This story was lost to the annals of history until 1878, when the Washington County clerk discovered the marriage bond of Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. However, it was not until the spring of 1911 that attention was given to the marriage cabin. Harrodsburg resident N.L. Curry visited the Beechland property in Washington County and stumbled across a dilapidated cabin owned by W.A. Clements. After learning of the history of this cabin, Clements granted permission for Curry to present the cabin as a gift to the Harrodsburg Historical Society, in May 1911. The logs were soon transported to Harrodsburg at a cost of seventeen dollars. In May 1913, the cabin was reerected on the historical society’s Old Fort Hill property at a cost of $261.

The enshrined cabin before you is thought to be the cabin in which the Lincolns were married.

The Reverend Jesse Head was born circa 1768, in Frederick County, Maryland, migrating to Kentucky in the mid-1790s. He lived in and around Springfield, Kentucky, during the late 1790s and early 1800s,
The Lincoln Marriage Cabin Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
2. The Lincoln Marriage Cabin Marker
where he was elected president of the city’s municipal Board of Trustees. In addition to these duties, he fulfilled his ecclesiastical duties and his work as a carpenter in and around Springfield. However, the Reverend Head is primarily remembered for presiding over the marriage ceremony of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, the parents of President Abraham Lincoln. The gravesite of the Reverend Jesse Head is located here in Harrodsburg at the Spring Hill Cemetery, where he was interred following his death on March 22, 1842. Also buried in this cemetery is former Kentucky governor Beriah Magoffin (1859-62).

Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail

1809 Abraham Lincoln born at Sinking Spring farm, in present-day Larue County, Kentucky.
1816 Lincoln family moved from Kentucky.
1841 Abraham Lincoln visited his friend Joshua Speed at Farmington, the Speed family plantation, in Louisville, Kentucky.
1842 Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd of Lexington, Kentucky.
1847 The Lincoln family visited Lexington, Kentucky, en route to Abraham’s only term in Congress.
1860 Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States in November.
1865 Abraham Lincoln assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.
The Lincoln Marriage Cabin image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
3. The Lincoln Marriage Cabin
A project of the Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission produced by the Kentucky Heritage Council in partnership with the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Erected by Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
Location. 37° 45.719′ N, 84° 50.752′ W. Marker is in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, in Mercer County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of South College Street (U.S. 127) and West Lexington Street, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Located in Old Fort Harrod State Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 South College Street, Harrodsburg KY 40330, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Lincoln Move to the Frontier (a few steps from this marker); Lincoln Marriage Temple (a few steps from this marker); Fort Harrod (within shouting distance of this marker); Osage Orange Tree (within shouting distance of this marker); James Harrod (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Original Fort Harrod Site
The Lincoln Marriage Cabin (interior) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
4. The Lincoln Marriage Cabin (interior)
(about 500 feet away); Pioneer Graveyard (about 500 feet away); Harrodsburg Springs (approx. ¼ mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Harrodsburg.
More about this marker. In the center is a photograph with the caption, “The Lincoln Marriage Temple was erected using money donated by Mrs. Edmund B. Ball of Muncie, Indiana. The Honorable William Nuckles Doak, United Sates Secretary of Labor under President Herbert Hoover, gave the keynote address at the official dedication ceremony on June 12, 1931. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society

In the center is a photograph with the caption, “The image to right shows what is believed to be the Lincoln marriage cabin prior to its enshrinement in the Lincoln Marriage Temple in 1931.” Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society

On the lower center is a photograph of “Thomas and Nancy Lincoln’s Marriage Certificate from Washington County, Kentucky.” Courtesy of the Washington County Clerk’s Office

On the lower right is a sketch of “Reverend Jesse Head” Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society

On the lower right is a photograph with the caption, “The
The Lincoln Marriage Cabin (interior) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
5. The Lincoln Marriage Cabin (interior)
two young girls standing next to the Reverend Jesse Head’s tombstone are his great-great-granddaughters, Mary Elizabeth and Jane Bird Hutton.” Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society
Also see . . .
1. Old Fort Harrod State Park. Kentucky State Parks (Submitted on August 21, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 

2. Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail. (Submitted on August 21, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. Notable Buildings
An Important Wedding image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
6. An Important Wedding
The parents of our nation’s sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, were Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks. In this cabin, on June 12, 1806, they were married by Reverend Jesse Head.

Thomas Lincoln, with his parents and four siblings, first came to Kentucky in 1782 and settled near Hughes Station, in Jefferson County. As the young man grew, he learned the skills of carpentry and cabinet making. He purchased his first farm in 1806 in Hardin County, paying over $500 in cash for the 238-acre farm.

Thomas met Nancy, a young woman living in the Beechland area with her aunt and uncle. Nancy had come with her mother along the Wilderness Road, through the Cumberland Gap, into Kentucky at an early age. Nancy and her mother went to live with her mother’s sister, Rachel (Shipley), and her husband Richard Berry, Sr., in Beechland, Kentucky after the death of her father. When Lucy later remarried, Nancy stayed with the Berrys. Nancy became quite skilled with needlework. Thomas began courting Nancy and soon they were planning for a wedding.
The Minister image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
7. The Minister
On June 12, 1806, The Reverend Jesse Head, a pioneer Methodist Circuit Rider, performed the marriage ceremony in Washington County for Thomas Lincoln, age 28, and Nancy Hanks, age 23. Jesse Head was a cabinet maker by trade, was well known throughout the area, and was a friend of the Lincoln and Berry families. He was also a Justice of the Peace and a Methodist pastor. During the course of many years, he performed numerous marriages.

In 1810 Reverend Head moved his carpentry shop to Harrodsburg. He is credited with the discovery of the Harrodsburg Springs in 1806. By 181 1 he had been elected a Trustee of the Town of Harrodsburg, was Chairman of the Board within two years, and continued to serve on the Town Board until 1827. Reverend Head is buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.
About the Cabin image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
8. About the Cabin
The cabin before you was originally owned by Richard Berry and was built in 1782 in Beechland, Kentucky. It is a simple, one-room, log cabin that was common among early pioneers of the Commonwealth. The hewed-log construction uses a basic V-notch corner technique with rock chinking and mud daubing. The clapboard roof is held in place with wooden pegs, the flooring is plank boards, and the stone fireplace is topped with a low stick chimney. The building was very serviceable and the small, fifteen-by-sixteen-foot size made it easy to heat in the winter. The newlyweds soon moved to Elizabethtown, where they resided in a cabin that Thomas built on one of the two town lots he owned.

In 1911 the cabin owners, William A. Clements and his son Walter L. Clements, presented it to the Harrodsburg Historical Society. An earlier effort to preserve the cabin by The Lincoln Memorial Company was unsuccessful in raising capital for the venture. A public fund was raised by the citizens of Harrodsburg to finance the relocation of the cabin to a parcel of land next to the Pioneer Cemetery that was donated by Irene Moore. The transportation of logs cost $17.00 and the re-construction of the cabin occurred at an expense of $261.00.
The Marriage Temple image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
9. The Marriage Temple
The passage of time, combined with the elements of nature, began to take their toll on the wood logs of the cabin. Efforts to preserve the cabin became an issue of importance. The idea of constructing a building around the cabin seemed the best option to shelter and preserve it. Ross Lockridge, a Bloomington, Indiana, historian persuaded Mrs. Edmund Burke Ball, of Muncie, Indiana, to make a donation that would fund the building of the Lincoln Marriage Temple.

The uniqueness of the structure that was built to protect the cabin is especially appropriate because of the unique place in history the cabin represents. Based upon the early brick churches of Kentucky, the hand-made brick, laid in Flemish bond, was used to create not just walls of a building, but the plan of the building was laid in the shape of a cross, with the cabin beneath it. You may have noticed the old English lock with brass knob on the front door when you entered. The fluted pilasters provide a sense of welcome, and the oak beams work to complement the cabin which they shield. The rear wall includes a Palladium window of slightly colored rose and amber glass beneath which a pine podium was placed for weddings. From the exterior, the Marriage Temple is crowned with a tower, belfry, and a spire with gilted weather vane. The dedication of the Lincoln Marriage Temple was celebrated June 12, 1931, the 125th anniversary of the marriage of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 16, 2015
10. Abraham Lincoln
This 1887 portrait of Abraham Lincoln by George P. A. Healy hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

“Today Abraham Lincoln is universally regarded as one of our greatest presidents. But from the start of his administration, Lincoln, guiding the nation in a time of civil war, was beset with criticism from all sides. Some charged him with moral cowardice for initially insisting that an end to slavery was not one of his wartime goals; others accused him of overstepping his constitutional powers; still others blamed him for military reverses in the field. But as Union forces moved toward victory, Lincoln's eloquent articulation of the nation's ideals and his eventual call for an end to slavery gradually invested him with grandeur. following his assassination in 1865, that grandeur virtually unassailable.

The original version of this portrait was a template for artist George P. A. Healy's large painting The Peacemakers, depicting Lincoln in consultation with three of his main military advisers at the end of the Civil War. But Healy recognized that this made a fine portrait in its own right and eventually made three replicas, including this one.” — National Portrait Gallery
The Lincoln Marriage Cabin image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 18, 2011
11. The Lincoln Marriage Cabin
In this historic cabin
Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks
Were married June 12, 1806 by the
Reverend Jesse Head.

The marriage bond signed by Thomas Lincoln and Richard Berry and witnessed by John H. Parrott dated June 10, 1806 and the minister's return of marriage are lodged in the records of the Washington County Court at Springfield, Kentucky.

The Reverend Jesse Head who performed the marriage ceremony lived in Harrodsburg and is buried here. He was a regular ordained minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

This cabin was the first home of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks. It was known in pioneer days as the Richard Berry Cabin and was located at Beechland, Washington County, Kentucky. Richard Berry was the uncle and guardian of Nancy Hanks.

The cabin was presented in 1911 by its owners William A. Clements of Springfield, Kentucky and Walter L. Clements of South Bend, Indiana, to the Harrodsburg Historical Society. The title is now vested in perpetuity in the name of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Placed June 12, 1931
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 813 times since then and 113 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   10. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   11. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement