A guest post by Lauren Alexander from Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.
2016 is a big year for our park here at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Not only is it the centennial of the National Park Service, it is also the bicentennial for both the State of Indiana and the Lincolns’ arrival in Indiana.
One of our projects is growing cushaw squash, a type of squash that Thomas Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s father grew. Thomas acquired his first cushaw at the trading post in Lexington, Kentucky and brought it back to his farm in Hodgenville, Kentucky.
When the Lincolns moved to Indiana they brought the cushaw with them and then on to Illinois. There is a family in Illinois that claims to have gotten the starts of their cushaws from Thomas and that is who we got our first seeds from. The cushaw that Thomas Lincoln had would have been white necked. Now there are many different varieties that can be found.
The green striped variety is said to have come into existence in the 1860s but the white crook neck variety is still the traditional one that Thomas Lincoln would have grown. By growing the squash here at the park, as well as numerous other places throughout the county we are preserving the history and heritage that the cushaw represents.
In 2016, in addition to growing the squash we will be having a cushaw contest in the fall! The categories are: Largest cushaw in size and a cushaw pie contest.