Saturday, May 21, 2011

Abe Lincking

by Matthew Brady/National Archives
We've been playing a game at home as I dig deeper and deeper into Civil War histories and our families' experiences. It's one of those Six Degrees things - how close can we get to Civil War historical figures or events?

Our favorite subject - The Great Emancipator himself.

  • Richard Mather, husband of my 5x great-aunt Mary Turner, was the evil man who forced the Lincolns from their Kentucky home in 1811. Shades of Snidely Whiplash! The truth is rather more complicated (see this National Parks brochure) but the end result was the Lincolns moved to Indiana in 1816.
  • William Clark(e), one of my husband's 4x great-grandfathers, lived near (and was most likely the tenant of) Zachariah Peters, an attorney in Springfield, Illinois. Peters was one of thirteen men who ran for the State General Assembly in 1832. Abraham Lincoln was another of the candidates. Both lost, but Lincoln (277 votes) did far better than Peters (4 votes). Peters was also the attorney for Clark(e)'s estate when he died a short time later. See this page for more details on the election.
  • Samuel Clark, my husband's 3x great-grandfather claimed to have heard Lincoln speak during his election campaigns. He may well have as a teenager in Sangamon County during the 1832 or '34 General Assembly election campaigns. He certainly did not hear the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates (as has been alleged) unless he came from central Iowa to catch one. 
  • I have Todd ancestors who ought to be related to Mary Todd Lincoln. Truly, they should. Yet they resist. 
  • Stephen Shelton, another of my husband's 4x great-grandfathers, owned a slave Phebe Bartlett when he moved to Illinois around 1825. Bartlett had a daughter, Mariah Bartlett Vance, who worked for the Lincolns in Springfield throughout the 1850s until they left for Washington, DC. See this story for more information.
  • Both Mordecai Lincoln (Abe's great uncle) and Andrew Johnson (Abe's VP and successor) lived in Greene County, TN where my grandfather was born and raised. The only problem is that Johnson died 23 years before he was born and Lincoln 42 years before he was born. It's kind of a stretch. 
My husband was already clearly ahead when he delivered the final blow the other night. How I had never heard this story I don't know. Actually, as I write this, I had heard the story. But neither of us had made the "linck" before.
  • He was a Pinkerton's security guard during college in the 1970s and once guarded Allan Pinkerton's elderly great-granddaughter when she attended the races at Saratoga. Allan Pinkerton was Lincoln's bodyguard. 
The winner.

But I get points for the best villain.


  1. Hah! What a great game! I haven't looked into possible connections with Abe, but have found some with George and Thomas (the contest for me is between my mother's ancestors and my father's; right now they are tied).

  2. FUN, I'm related (SO DISTANTLY!!!) To Lyndon Johnson, does that count in this game. VERY VERY DISTANTLY! LOL

  3. Col. Edmund Harrison rented his house to Jefferson Davis in Montgomery. Another one, Milton Saffold, surrendered Montgomery to the Northern troops. That's all I've got.

  4. My great-great-grandfather owned a hat store in Springfield and sold a hat to Lincoln.

  5. Wow, Amanda! You're linckin'! Kristin, you're absolutely in the Civil War version. And Greta & Carol, you'll rock in the Presidents version.

  6. Hey there, great post and sounds like a fun game! My 5th great grandfather was friends with Lincoln as a child when he lived in Kentucky. It's written up in a history book. The only problem is that I can't really place them both living in the same county at the same I have my doubts but it's fun to ponder!

  7. Hey! My ggg grandpa was the same Stephen Shelton. He fought in the War of 1812. His grave is now in a horse pasture and headstone crumbled I am told. He had 18 children! Would you know anything about his father Robert Shelton who came to America from England?

    1. Not a thing, but I would love to connect with anyone researching the family!!


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