Digging into Abe's past

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PETERSBURG - Archaeologists searching for more evidence of the first building Abraham Lincoln owned have unearthed a slate pencil, a hand-forged iron chain link, window and bottle glass, a shell button, pottery fragments and other items at Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site.

"Finding that slate pencil was a real treat. It's as close as we're going to get to a Lincoln artifact," said Robert Mazrim, director of the Sangamo Archaeological Center in Elkhart.

Lincoln arrived at New Salem by flatboat in 1831, working first as a clerk in Offutt's shop. He later operated a store with William Berry and served as a postmaster and deputy surveyor before moving to Springfield to practice law. The log village was reconstructed in the 1930s and now is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

Thomas Schwartz, interim director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, recently discovered an 1830s document that revealed Lincoln owned a half interest in two lots and a structure in the frontier settlement.

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