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Lincoln's Brush With Death!

"In his tenth year he was kicked by a horse, and apparantly (sic) killed for a time."

The words above were Abraham Lincoln’s manner of describing a serious incident during his boyhood.

A typical chore for the youthful Abraham Lincoln was to take corn over to Gordon's gristmill about two miles from the Lincolns' cabin near Little Pigeon Creek in southern Indiana. When he arrived one day in 1818 there were others waiting in front of him. Watching the horses slowly go round and round, young Lincoln commented that "his dog could eat the meal as fast as the mill could grind it." Eventually it was Abraham's turn, and he hitched his old mare to the gristmill's arm. To keep the horse moving, he hit it with a whiplash, clucked in the normal manner, and shouted, "Git up, you old hussy; git up, you old hussy." Just as he yelled the words "Git up" again, the horse kicked backwards with a hind foot hitting the boy in the head. Lincoln was knocked down and out. Noah Gordon ran to his aid and picked up the bleeding, unconscious lad. Dave Turnham, who had come to the mill with Abraham, ran to get Abraham's father. Thomas Lincoln hauled his injured son home in a wagon and put him to bed. He lay unconscious all night.

Apparently some (including Noah Gordon) thought he was dead or near death. Neighbors flocked to the Lincolns' cabin. The next morning one onlooker cried, "He's coming straight back from the dead!" Abraham jerked all over. Suddenly he blurted out the words "You old hussy," thus finishing what he was about to say before the horse knocked him out. In discussing the affair, Lincoln himself used the words "apparantly (sic) killed for a time."


Sources used for this page: Lincoln's Boyhood by Francis Marion Van Natter, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years by Carl Sandburg, Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, Life of Lincoln by William Herndon and Jesse Weik, and Lincoln's Youth Indiana Years by Louis A. Warren.
NOTE: The quoted phrase at the top of this page comes from a short campaign biography Lincoln wrote in June 1860. The future president used the 3rd person when referring to himself in this biographical sketch of his life.


In 2007 Janis Herbert's Abraham Lincoln for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities was published. Janis's attractive book is non-fiction, and it's intended for children (ages 9-12). It takes readers on an adventure through Abraham Lincoln's life, from his tragic childhood and early years working on ferryboats to his law practice and unexpected presidency to his sudden murder in 1865. If you are interested in learning more about Janis's book please CLICK HERE.

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