New Salem Village

Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site is a reconstruction of the village where Abraham Lincoln spent his early adulthood. The six years Lincoln spent in New Salem Village were a turning point in his career. Although he never owned a home here, Lincoln was engaged in a variety of activities while he was in New Salem. He clerked in a store, split rails, enlisted in the Black Hawk War, served as postmaster and deputy surveyor, failed in business, and was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1834 and 1836 after an unsuccessful bid in 1832.

Twelve log houses, the Rutledge Tavern, ten workshops, stores, mills, and a school where church services were held, have been reproduced and furnished as they might have been in the 1830s. The furnishings, including many articles actually used by the New Salem people of Lincoln’s time and others dating back to the same time period, were assembled and donated to the state by the Old Salem Lincoln League. The collection includes early 19th century articles such as wheat cradles, candle molds, cord beds, flax hackles, wood cards, dough and cornmeal chests, and early American pewter.

Did you know?

  • At Martin Waddell’s store, you could buy rabbit fur hats for 50 cents and coonskin hats for $2.00.
  • The Henry Onstot Cooper Shop is the only original building on the property. A cooper makes buckets, tubs, and barrels. During Lincoln’s time, nearly all produce was shipped in barrels. Wet barrels were used for transporting whiskey or meat products in brine and dry barrels for goods like flour.
  • Parents paid for the education of their children. 30 cents to 85 cents per month was charged to attend this “subscription school” depending on the age of the child.


New Salem Village

Article written by Sarah Wyland

Sarah Wyland
Sarah never gets in trouble for being on Facebook and Instagram at work, because its her job. As social media manager, she gets to tell the stories of travelers, teachers, and interesting places. Other titles she enjoys include dog mom to Knox, barre instructor, Crossfit athlete, avid reader, and world traveler.