Title Reviewed:
Abe Lincoln at Loafer Station: A Novel Based on Hoosier Legends

Author Reviewed:
Anet Garrison

William E. Wilson


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 101-102

Article Type:
Book Review

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Abe Lincoln at Loafer Station: A Novel Based on Hoosier Legends. By Anet Garrison. (New York: Exposition Press, 1951, pp. 216. $3.00.)

Concerning her novel about her ancestors' relations with Abe Lincoln, the author writes: "I haven't gone by dates or history books—only what my ancestors have told me down through the years. Even if what my ancestors have told me isn't true to history, I can't help it, and to me, I would rather think that some of the history is wrong, than to think my ancestors were wrong. They were there, and knew. And I don't care what the critics say. My ancestors were right!"

If Mrs. Garrison's ancestors were right, then Beveridge, Sandburg and other scholars are wrong about a number of things and even Lincoln's own recollections of his Indiana years are not to be trusted. To accept the Garrison legend, we must not only create a new image of Lincoln's backwoods haunts in Spencer and Warrick counties but we must also create a new image of the young Lincoln himself. We must imagine him spending most of his idle hours not among people named Grigsby, Gentry, Turnham, Crawford, and Pitcher in Gentryville and Rockport but among people named Garrison, Hart, Weaver, Ingram, and Harper at Loafer Station, identified as the present village of Tennyson, Indiana. What is more, we must picture him there hanging out in a saloon, taking at least an occasional drink; we must disregard all other reports that he was not fond of hunting and go along with him and Tommy Garrison on frequent hunting expeditions; and perhaps most difficult of all, we must discard our previous concept of Tom Lincoln as a teetotaler, and accept him in the company of Isaac Garrison "more than half full" and on his way to visit a woman of ill-repute.

But it would be unwise to quarrel with Mrs. Garrison's truculent preface. As she says, her ancestors "were there, and knew." Whether their memories were more or less accurate than the memories of Dennis Hanks, John Pitcher, Mrs. Josiah Crawford, and Abe Lincoln himself is something that no critic can now determine.

A much safer approach to this novel is to consider it as folklore, apart from the Lincoln story; for, in that department, the author has indisputably made a contribution to Hoosieriana. The best elements in her book are her recall of log-cabin life among the pioneers and her recounting of the tall tales her male characters told round the bottles in the saloon at Loafer Station.

Indiana University

William E. Wilson

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.