Presentation on theme: "Human-Environmental Interaction Lincoln and the Winter of the Deep Snow In Macon County Illinois."— Presentation transcript:
Human-Environmental Interaction Lincoln and the Winter of the Deep Snow In Macon County Illinois
By: Kathleen M. Jensen Teacher Harristown Elementary Harristown, Illinois
Abraham Lincoln, his father Thomas and stepmother, Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln along with 10 other extended family members arrived in Macon County Illinois in mid March 1830. They settled on a high bluff overlooking the Sangamon River about 10 miles west of Decatur in what is now Harristown Township. Abraham Lincoln split enough rails to fence in their 10 acre farmstead. They spent the spring, summer and fall of 1830 planting, tending and harvesting their crops. On December 20, 1830 it began to snow in Macon County and it did not stop. Then, on top of that, after Christmas 1830, the temperatures dipped to thirty to forty degrees below zero. For two months, it would snow, then the snow would be covered with freezing rain, then it would snow again. This frigid layering continued until the snow on the regular flat ground had accumulated to over 4 feet. The drifting snow had reached as high as the roof of the Lincoln cabin. Relentless bone chilling driving blizzard winds and bitter sub zero temperatures spread a blanket of death across Macon County. Wild animals such as wolves and coyote could be heard howling and screaming: trapped in ice layered snow pits. They could not maneuver to hunt for food or free themselves. Domesticated livestock froze and died in the fields. Settlers died in their poorly insulated cabins from exposure and starvation. Abraham Lincoln is said to have dug down through several feet of snow covering their fields to scavenge for left behind corn which was used to keep his family from starving. The Winter of the Deep Snow of 1830 has come to be known as the worst winter in the history of Illinois.
The legendary “Winter of the Deep Snow” had a profound and pivotal effect on Abraham Lincoln. When Abe arrived in Macon County with his family he had just turned 21, the age at which he could legally be free to make his own living and keep for himself any wages that he earned. However, Abe had agreed to accompany his family to Illinois to help them for at least one more year as they got established in a new homestead. After the “Winter of the Deep Snow”, the Lincoln clan was understandably discouraged and disheartened with Central Illinois. Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln decided to head back to Indiana. On the way they were persuaded by family members to stop and settle in Coles County Illinois. In March 1831, came the spring thaw which melted all of that accumulated snow. The Sangamon River, which was normally too shallow to navigate by boat, became deep enough for boat travel. Abe Lincoln, accompanied by a cousin, John Hanks and Sarah Bush Lincoln’s son, John Johnston, set off in a canoe bound for Springfield. It was while on this trip, when Abraham was contracted to take a flat boat to New Orleans, that Lincoln had his first visit to his next home: New Salem. If the winter of 1830 had not been so harsh, Lincoln may have stayed in Macon County. Or, if he left, the Sangamon River may not have been high enough for him to canoe to Springfield and he may never have ended up at New Salem. In effect, “The Winter of the Deep Snow” may have helped to propel Abraham Lincoln on to his future greatness.