Thomas and Sara Bush Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's father and stepmother, were among the early settlers in the Charleston area. Today, you can experience what life was like for the Lincolns on a visit to the nearby Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site on the Goosenest Prairie in Lerna. Later in his career, Abraham often visited the area, both for business and pleasure. He tried many cases here and in 1858, Charleston was the scene of the fourth Lincoln Douglas Debate – witnessed by a crowd of over 12,000 people. Charleston was the last trip from Springfield he made before assuming his place as our 16th president. Lincoln's affection for the humble folk of the Goosenest Prairie remained strong throughout his life.
For more information:
- 8th Judicial Circuit
- Friends of Lincoln
- Good for Kids
- Guided/Self-Guided Tours
- Historic House
- Historic Site
- Lincoln-Douglas Debate
- Passport Site
- Top Destination
- Underground Railroad
- Visitor Information
- Wayside Exhibit
Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site
400 S. Lincoln Hwy Rd. Lerna, Illinois 62440
Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, part of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, preserves the 19th-century home of Thomas Lincoln and Sarah Bush Lincoln, father and step-mother of our 16th president. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer living in Springfield by the time his parents moved here, but his burgeoning law practice often brought him to Charleston and the farm, especially during the 1840s. Abraham Lincoln also owned a portion of the farm which he deeded back to his father and step-mother for their use during their lifetime.
Today Lincoln Log Cabin is an 86-acre historic site that is owned and operated by the State of Illinois, managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Sites. The site includes an accurate reproduction of the Lincolns’ two-room cabin that was reconstructed on the original cabin site in 1935-1936 as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project. The National Park Service oversaw the creation of Lincoln Log Cabin State Park with CCC labor. The CCC camp, Camp Shiloh, was located within the park’s boundaries and its enrollees were WWI veterans. Today the ten acres in the northwest corner of the park where Camp Shiloh was located is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A working, living history farm has been developed around the cabin, and a second historic farmstead, that of Stephen and Nancy Sargent, has been moved to the site to help broaden visitors’ understanding both of life in the 19th century and Lincoln’s legal practice in the community. The site also includes the Moore Home, where Lincoln bid farewell to his family in 1861 before leaving to assume the Presidency, and the gravesites of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln at the Thomas Lincoln Cemetery.
Moore Home State Historic Site
1442 Lincoln Hwy Rd Lerna, Illinois 62440
Located just one mile north of Lincoln Log Cabin, the Moore Home is the 1860’s home of Abraham Lincoln's stepsister, Matilda Hall Moore and the location of President-elect Lincoln’s last visit with his Coles County family on January 31, 1861.
Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum
126 E. St. Charleston, Illinois 61920
Tour the only museum in Illinois retracing the senatorial debates of 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephan Douglas. The museum offers exhibits and interactive displays that tell the debates’ story through film, audio selections, artifacts and photos.