Offutt, Denton

Born: 1803-1807 Kentucky

Died: 1861-1862

Flourished: 1859-09-07 Paris, Kentucky

In April 1831, Offutt hired Abraham Lincoln, John Hanks, and John D. Johnston to take a flatboat to New Orleans. The boat and crew were stranded on the dam at New Salem, and after looking around the little frontier town, Offutt decided to return after the New Orleans trip and open a store. The group returned to St. Louis via steamship that summer; and Offutt hired Lincoln to be a clerk in the new store and sent him ahead while he stayed in St. Louis to purchase goods for the new venture. Offutt rented the mill at New Salem and in September 1831 opened the store, in which Lincoln was a clerk until the outbreak of the Black Hawk War in April 1832. According to his friends, Offutt was a good talker but not such a good businessman. After just nine months in business, Offutt fled New Salem, leaving his creditors behind him. He moved back to Kentucky to raise livestock with his family. Offutt wrote three books on horse medicine and training, and he earned a living as an animal trainer, at one point training horses for a circus in Georgia. He spent his final years in Louisiana. In November 1860, Offutt wrote president-elect Lincoln asking for a federal job; there is no record that he received an appointment.

Gary A. O'Dell, "Denton Offutt of Kentucky: America's First 'Horse Whisperer'"? The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 108 3 (Summer 2010), 173-211; Benjamin P. Thomas, Lincoln’s New Salem (Springfield, IL: Abraham Lincoln Association, 1934), 6, 41-42, 44, 54; Kenneth J. Winkle, The Young Eagle: The Rise of Abraham Lincoln (Dallas: Taylor Trade, 2001), 104; Denton Offutt, Best and Cheapest Book on the Management of Horses, Mules, &c (Washington: William Greer, 1843); Denton Offutt, A Method of Gentling Horses, Their Selection, and Curing Their Diseases (Lexington, KY: np., 1846); Denton Offutt, The Educated Horse: Teaching Horses and Other Animals (Washington: n.p., 1854); Denton Offutt to Abraham Lincoln; Denton Offutt to Abraham Lincoln; Denton Offutt to Abraham Lincoln.