Established June 19, 1936
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On June 19, 1936 at a meeting of the Washington County Fiscal Court, the Washington County Historical Society presented a resolution requesting the court to order the conveyance to the Commonwealth of Kentucky of several tracts of land for the establishment of a Lincoln Homestead State Shrine. Originally the citizens of Washington County acquired a five-acre tract that had a replica of the first Lincoln cabin in Kentucky constructed on the site. In 1938 the citizens of Springfield, the county seat of Washington County, donated twelve additional acres for the construction of a nine-hole golf course.
By 1940 the local golf club and the Rotary Club had successfully influenced the building of a highway extending from the town of Bloomfield through the park. The clubhouse and the newly built caretaker’s cottage had electrical and sewage systems installed. The Springfield’s Women’s Club and other civic organizations raised money to furnish the cabin replica with furniture indicative of the time period.
Many of the leading citizens of the Washington County area felt that a monument to the Lincoln family’s stay in Washington County would be an appropriate way to celebrate the Lincoln heritage. Since the father and mother of Abraham Lincoln married in Washington County, the area would serve as a focal point for the Lincoln saga in Kentucky. Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, came to Kentucky in 1782 from Rockingham County, Va. He and his wife, Bathsheba Herring Lincoln, had five children, including Thomas, the father of the future president of the United States. In 1786 Indians killed the elder Abraham Lincoln.
Other improvements to the park included a picnic area and the completion of a combination carpenter’s and blacksmith’s shop. The Springfield Rotary Club had the building constructed with lumber from a century old building; the shop displays tools from the time of Thomas Lincoln. In 1942 the Kentucky General Assembly appropriated $4,800 to move the venerable Francis Berry house a distance of eight miles north of Springfield to the Lincoln Homestead Park. The Berry house is closely associated with the Lincoln family. Richard Berry, Sr. who built the house married Rachel Shipley whose sister Lucy Shipley gave birth to Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln. According to legend, Nancy Hanks lived with the Berry family for a period of time. On June 12, 1806, Thomas Lincoln married Nancy Hanks in the Berry house. Nancy would later give birth to Abraham Lincoln who became the 16th president of the United States. The U.S. government built a fieldstone enclosure located on the park grounds honoring Nancy Hanks Lincoln.
Throughout the 1940s the majority of the labor sponsored and financed at the Lincoln Homestead Park came from the private sector. In 1948 the commonwealth began to make several major improvements to the park. New water and electrical systems were installed; the nine-hole golf course underwent a revamping, along with landscaping, walk and roadway paving, and a new service building and gatehouse. Between 1956 and 1960, local citizens donated an additional 112 acres. The park now consists of 120 acres and has an 18-hole golf course with a pro shop.