- The flatboat "Journey of Remembrance" will be commemorating a journey taken by our 16th president as a young man, a journey that helped shape his views and, ultimately, shaped a nation. As a young man in 1828, Abraham Lincoln travelled by flatboat to New Orleans, transporting a load of produce for a local merchant. While in New Orleans, Lincoln was disturbed by a slave auction he witnessed on the docks. It was an experience he would never forget and one that influenced his views on the practice of slavery in years to come.

Lincoln's Journey of Remembrance will set sail September 9, from Rockport, Ind. Join us for a send-off celebration to begin at 11 a.m.

In addition to educating people about this important part of our nation's history, this trip will increase awareness of the Abraham Lincoln-related sites in Southern Indiana. These sites include Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Lincoln State Park & Amphitheatre, Col. William Jones Home, Lincoln Ferry Park, Lincoln Landing, and the Lincoln Pioneer Village, all of which are located in Spencer County.

This project coincides with the national celebration of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday and is endorsed by the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, the Indiana Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

For more information about this trip, visit the Spencer County Visitor Bureau's Lincoln's Journey Web site, call 888-444-9252 or email thinklincoln@psci.net.


By the fall of 1810, Closs Thompson, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, had on three separate occasions lost farms he had carved out of the Kentucky wilderness, due to Kentucky's then defective land titles. He decided to take his family and join his brother, Elder Benjamin Thompson, in what was then Missouri Territory. Abraham Lincoln's family similarly lost two Kentucky farms to defective land titles, and in 1816 they migrated to Spencer County, Indiana. There his father and mother became members of the Little Pigeon Primitive Baptist Church, which still exists today. Ironically, some of those lost farms were then taken by slave-owner planters migrating west in search of new land.

In the fall and winter of 1810, Closs and his family built a flatboat at the confluence of the Little Miami and Ohio Rivers, near what is now Cincinnati, Ohio. They then floated the flatboat down the Ohio to the Mississippi River. There they abandoned the flatboat, obtained a keel boat and towed it by hand up the Mississippi to Cape Girardeau. There they joined Closs's brother, Benjamin, at his cabin located in the wilderness several miles from Cape Girardeau.

In 1813, Closs's family helped build the original hewn log meeting house for their church, Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, which they pastored. They also baptised slaves and accepted them as equals in their church. While there, Closs's son, Jeremiah Thompson, served in the Missouri Mounted Rangers in the War of 1812.

In the fall of 2006, in remembrance of his ancestors' journey, Ron Drake, a descendant of Closs and Jeremiah Thompson, built a flatboat and took that same journey on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The flatboat was built in Sullivan County, Indiana, on the Jeremiah Thompson family farm, using poplar and oak timber from that farm. Construction was directed by John Cooper of Gallatin, Tennessee, assisted by Cherokee Development Corporation of Terre Haute, Indiana. Mr. Drake was a member of the construction crew. An original hewn log from the Bethel Primitive Baptist Church meeting house was built into the flatboat, inscribed "Journey of Remembrance."

Mr. Drake, an attorney and former Indiana state legislator, represents disabled children in Washington, D.C. He also operates the Jeremiah Thompson family farm in Sullivan County, Indiana. When at the farm, he resides in a cabin he built on the site of Jeremiah's original cabin. Mr. Drake's father, the late Elder Mervin E. Drake, preached on various occasions at the Lincoln family church, Little Pigeon Primitive Baptist Church. Mr. Drake plans to go to the Lincoln family church on the day of launch for quiet contemplation and remembrance.

Mr. Drake, who is providing and funding the flatboat on this journey, expects to be aboard as a crew member.