In 1859 Abraham Lincoln covered his Indiana years in one paragraph and two sentences of a written autobiographical statement that included the following: "We reached our new home about the time the State came into the union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals in the woods. There I grew up." William E. Bartelt uses annotation and primary source material to tell the history of Lincoln's Indiana years by those who were there. Bartelt begins with Lincoln's own words written in two short autobiographical sketches in 1859 and 1860, and in the poetry Lincoln wrote following a campaign trip to Indiana in 1844.
In 1865 Lincoln's law partner, William H. Herndon, began interviewing Lincoln's family and those who knew Lincoln in Indiana. Bartelt examines Herndon's interviews with Lincoln's stepmother Sarah (Sally) Bush Johnston Lincoln, cousin Dennis Hanks, stepsister Matilda Johnston Hall Moore, neighbors Nathaniel Grigsby, Elizabeth Crawford, and David Turnham, and others who knew Lincoln in Indiana. Also included in the volume are excerpts from Lincoln biographies by William Herndon, Ida Tarbell, Albert Beveridge, and Louis Warren, in which Bartelt analyzes to what extent these authors researched Lincoln's Indiana period. "There I Grew Up": Remembering Abraham Lincoln's Indiana Youth reveals, through the words of those who knew him, Abraham Lincoln's humor, compassion, oratorical skills, and thirst for knowledge, and it provides an overview of Lincoln's Indiana experiences, his family, the community where the Lincolns settled, and southern Indiana during the years 1816 to 1830.