In cooperation with the Poudre School District, the Virginia Dale Community Club sponsored an essay contest for local 5th graders who were at that time studying the Civil War. The theme of the essay was “What Abraham Lincoln’s Life Was Like When He Was My Age.”

The essays were judged for content, evidence of research and originality. It was difficult to
select the essay that was thought to best reflect the theme.

The awards presentation was made at Cache La Poudre Middle School on Dec. 20. Four of the entrants received an American flag and a Virginia Dale T-shirt. Those entrants were: Sam Nelson, Darien Hietpas, Rose Maino and Liv Pepin. Sydney Gradishar-Jensen, now a student at CLP middle school, received the grand prize of the book by Carl Sandberg “Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years.”

Here is Gradishar-Jensen’s award-winning essay:

Beginning the story at Abraham’s age of 9, his mother died from milk sickness. With
his older sister, Sarah, to take care of him, Abe grieved his mother’s death. Later on, Sarah died in childbirth when she was 20. Abraham was not very productive as a boy. He went to church, though — a Baptist Church that banned alcohol, dancing and slavery.

Abraham’s father, Thomas, was remarried, this time to Sarah Bush Johnston, a mother of three. Abraham bonded closely with his stepmother and soon grew to call her mother. As a teenager Abraham did not do his chores and the neighbors considered him lazy.

Later, when he became President, I’m sure the neighbors would have changed their minds if they had seen what a great man he had become.”

The Virginia Dale Community Club owns the 1862 Virginia Dale Overland Stage Station which
is in the process of being restored. Its mission is to promote the rural way of life and to educate adults and children about their Western Heritage. Each June the Club has an Open House at the Stage Station. This year the Open House theme was Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.

For more information about the Virginia Dale Community Club and its events for 2014 visit www.virginiadalecommunityclub.org.

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