The Old Lincoln Cabin.
The Old Lincoln Cabin. Public Domain

On this day 210 years ago, Abraham Lincoln was born to a modest family near Hodgenville, Kentucky. Though he eventually became the 16th President of the United States (and a fairly beloved one at that), he had a meandering path to his role as the leader of a divided nation. After a brief stint in school (one whole year!) and jobs as a postman and shopkeeper, he went into law and politics. At one point he ended up purchasing roughly 40 acres of farmland in Charleston, Illinois. Thirty of those historic acres just went up for sale.

Lincoln bought the land in 1841 for his cash-strapped father, Thomas, and had the elder Lincoln lease it from him, allegedly at a rate of one dollar per year. Much of the land was most recently owned by the Best family (also originally from Kentucky), who purchased a 30-acre tract of it, along with 95 more acres, at a foreclosure auction in 1989, for $98,500. The remaining 10 acres of Lincoln’s original purchase were split up over time: Four were put into a private trust, and six became part of the neighboring Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site. The site, an 86-acre “historic park” near Lerna, Illinois, is anchored by a replica of the log cabin Thomas Lincoln famously built and occupied there. In a statement to Successful Farming, auctioneer Michael Stanfield said that the land up for sale “lays almost totally adjacent to the Lincoln Log Cabin in Illinois State Park.”

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, near Charleston, Illinois.
Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, near Charleston, Illinois. Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

Retired farmer Ron Best owns Best Farms, Inc., along with his four siblings. The family decided to sell their 590 total acres to liquidate the business. Over the years, the land has produced solid amounts of corn and soybeans—up to 238 bushels of corn per acre, and up to 77 bushels of beans, during the last three years.

Scott Wingert, who advertised the auction for Stanfield, didn’t have an estimate of how much money the land might go for, but claims that even though “its not particularly great land,” the fact that it was once owned by Lincoln should be enough to draw a large crowd. However, it’s hard to say it has any true historic value since, according to Wingert, Lincoln “just owned it, he didn’t farm it himself.”

Fittingly, the auction is taking place at a hotel in downtown Charleston—on Lincoln Avenue.