Whitesburg KY

North Carolina county says Lincoln’s birthplace is there


Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois each lay claim to part of Abraham Lincoln’s youth.

Now, a North Carolina county is trying to get in on the act.

A group in Rutherford County, N.C., opened the Bostic (N.C.) Lincoln Center and are petitioning the federal government to run a DNA test of Lincoln’s father, Thomas, to see if it matches some of the 16th president’s saved genetic material.

Keith Price, president of Bostic Lincoln Center Inc., said Lincoln was born in rural North Carolina, where Price believes Nancy Hanks gave birth to him out of wedlock.

Price is relying on an oral tradition that says Hanks’ family, in the late 1700s, traveled from Virginia to North Carolina, where she worked for Abraham Enloe, who some point to as a possible father.

A picture of Enloe’s brother looks “very much like” Abe, Price said. Thomas Lincoln, on the other hand was more like a “fireplug,” Price said.

The effort, though, has met with resistance from the government bureaucracy and the consensus of historians, including Darrell Meadows, a Lincoln expert for the Kentucky Historical Society.

“I’m not worried about it,” Meadows said.

Meadows’ group is promoting Lincoln’s ties to Kentucky this year as part of his bicentennial birthday celebration. Meadows defended the prevailing birth story.

Lincoln’s recognized birth date is recorded in a family Bible, Meadows said. That day is key to the argument, because official documents – including a marriage certificate and tax records – put the Lincoln family in Kentucky during the years surrounding 1809.

Still, Meadows can’t flat out prove Lincoln was born in Kentucky with a birth certificate. Officials at the time did not record his birth on wind-swept ridge just south of Hodgenville, which is in modern-day LaRue County.

Sandy Brue, chief of interpretation and resource management at the Hodgenville Birthplace National Historic Site, called the North Carolina movement a “very small local effort” that has made a “big splash” in the media. Brue said she has fielded a lot of calls from reporters since the Lincoln Center opened.

“What are their primary sources?” she asked. “We have a lot of primary sources.”

Price, though, cites various histories to back up the Tarheel theory.

Hanks was listed on the rolls of Concord Baptist Church, which is near Bostic and Puzzle Creek, where Price claims Lincoln was actually born.

Price said the group’s mission is to preserve information such as this at a “property suitable for a museum, visitor’s center and a community learning center.”

Reid Medlin, a life-long Rutherford County resident, said he believes Lincoln is a Tarheel. But while some near where he lives are adamant about the area’s claim to Lincoln, “average people” don’t much talk about it, he said.

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