When President Abraham Lincoln was a young lawyer, he saw a pig stuck in mud. Abe — who adored animals — wanted to pull the pig out, but he knew helping would be tricky and mess up his clean suit.

“He was going to give a speech, so he was dressed in the best way he could,” said Michelle Martz, visitor services manager at President Lincoln’s Cottage. This historic site north of the White House is where Lincoln spent part of his presidency and developed the Emancipation Proclamation (which began the process of freeing enslaved people in the South).

Lincoln paused that day to weigh his options, think creatively and find a solution for helping the pig trapped in the mud.

Families will need to rely on those skills to solve the puzzles packed into Lincoln Letters, a new subscription-based game. President Lincoln’s Cottage teamed up with Game Genius, a nonprofit devoted to play, to develop a story that’s told through three mailings.

Each one will include a Lincoln-related, fake historical document created for the game, plus a letter from “Pig Pal,” a narrator based on the pig that was stuck in the mud. (In case you were wondering, Lincoln did get dirty but managed to save him.) Pig Pal is similar to the animal characters from “Aesop’s Fables,” one of Lincoln’s favorite books from childhood.

Expect to encounter a bunch of activities each week, said Game Genius President Peter Williamson, who created the challenges for a broad range of interests. So whether you prefer word jumbles or Sudoku, you’ll find something you like, he said. And if you can’t do it all on your own, that’s fine.

“We want families to work together,” he said.

Worried your parents might get stumped, too? Pig Pal can email hints.

Although there’s a website to plug in answers and learn more about the story, Martz said that the program is not on-screen or tied to a schedule. Some families may want to figure out each set of puzzles over the dinner table the night they arrive, or others may wait until they receive all the mailings before they start.

Martz said what matters is getting a chance to practice problem-solving as a group — and having a good time.

“I hope this inspires people to come up with their own ways to make games,” said Martz, who has been sending silly coded messages to her relatives. (Williamson also suggested coming up with new rules for other games you have at home.)

Getting Lincoln Letters may make you wonder about the 16th president’s real correspondence. He sent a lot of letters, Martz said, but her favorite story is about one that he never mailed.

“He was really upset at a general, and he wrote a letter blasting him,” she said. “He vented, folded it up and put it away.”

That’s a smart technique to borrow for emails today, she said. And it’s a reminder that there’s more than one way to get unstuck — whether you’re caught up in your negative feelings or a muddy field.

Sign up

Register for Lincoln Letters by
June 20 at lincolncottage.org/lincoln-letters-sign-up. It’s $10 for the three mailings, which will be sent June 21, June 28 and July 5.