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“MORD" LINCOLN, THE WOMAN-HATER

BY WILLIAM E. BARTON

HE lumbering stage that jolted its way across the rutted prairie

from Carthage to Macomb, stopped for the exchange of mails at the little old village of Fountain Green, and a passenger descended. He was unusually tall, dark and lank, and wore a long, seedy black coat and a tall hat in need of brushing, and carried a cotton umbrella tied about the middle with a string. He also carried an old-fashioned carpet bag. Several of the men who were lounging about the store, waiting for the stage, identified him, for they had been at Carthage on the preceding day and had heard him speak. Carthage was the county-seat of Hancock County, a county that lay along the Mississippi River opposite the Keokuk Rapids. Boats ascending the river to Keokuk, or the Illinois shore opposite, often had to discharge their cargoes and take a new start. It had been these rapids that made a head of navigation in the early days, and that was what began the settlement of Fountain Green. That was a place, some miles in from the river, where the rank prairie grass gave way for grass of finer texture, growing around a many-mouthed spring. In this same county, but above the rapids, was the town of Nauvoo, where the Mormons settled. Joseph Smith had been taken from

1 This article has interest as a story, and that interest is increased by the close relationship of its principal character to Abraham Lincoln. But it is not as a narrative, though evidently a truthful one, that the article has its chief value. It is the first attempt, so far as we are aware, to answer the question, To what extent was Abraham Lincoln a Lincoln ? Did his personal traits and moods come to him chiefly through his mother, or were there important elements in his mind and character which he inherited through his father? It is known that Abraham Lincoln saw practically nothing during his life-time of his father's relatives ; this article mentions his isolation from his own family. In some respects he was quite unlike his father, Thomas Lincoln, who was a man of medium height, solidly built, while Abraham Lincoln was very tall and loose-jointed. Mentally, they had some traits in common. Doctor Barton has now conducted an investigation among the Lincolns most closely related to Abraham. The President left no surviving brother or sister, and his father died before he did. But there were first cousins in Illinois, and this article tells the story of this family, with some very suggestive facts concerning their mental traits, and especially those of one cousin, whose life story as here told cannot fail of interest.—THE EDITOR.

there, and was in the jail at Carthage when the mob captured the jail and killed him. The old jail at Carthage is now a shrine for the Mormons who visit it from other places. Joseph Smith was killed June 27, 1844. The events which this story describes occurred fourteen years later.

There was a political meeting in Carthage on September 11, 1858. Stephen A. Douglas, then a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate, spoke before a great crowd. A tablet set in the wall of the court house commemorates the event. Eleven days later, on Wednesday, September 22, Abraham Lincoln spoke there. You will find a massive up-standing boulder in the court house yard telling you where he stood. And that boulder tells us the date of the stage ride, for Abraham Lincoln journeyed eastward from Carthage after his speech in that town, and stopped at Fountain Green. The joint debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas were seven in number, beginning at Ottawa on Saturday, August 21, and closing at Alton, October 15, 1858. The days intervening between the joint discussions were filled by the two candidates separately. Douglas said that in the 100 days, exclusive of Sundays, between July 9 and August 2, he spoke just 130 times. Lincoln spoke not so often but almost always once a day, on certain days he spoke twice. Douglas traveled from place to place in a special car, often on a special train with a flat car bearing a cannon to announce his arrival and to echo the applause with which his speeches were received. Abraham Lincoln rode in the day coach, or in the stage. Four of the seven joint debates had been held when Lincoln spoke at Carthage.

Why did he stop at Fountain Green?

He stopped to visit his cousin Mordecai Lincoln. When the two men met in front of the little store at Fountain Green, it was easy to see that they were close akin. Their eyes and hair and gait were all alike. Abraham was taller than Mordecai, but Mordecai was a tall man, and his two brothers, Abraham, who died in 1852, and James, who died in 1837, were also tall men of the Lincoln type.

So far as I am aware, this meeting of Abraham Lincoln and his cousin Mordecai, is the only meeting that ever occurred in the life of the President between him and a first cousin of the name of Lincoln.

The isolation of Abraham Lincoln from his relatives of the Lincoln name was life-long and pathetic. His father, left an orphan at a tender age, became, as his distinguished son said, "a wandering far

away, and

laboring boy," who from the time he left home saw almost nothing of his father's people. When Abraham was born, two of his mother's aunts were near at hand, and another was not very he grew up among the Hankses. In Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, the Hankses were with the family of Thomas Lincoln; but there were no Lincolns near. To be sure, the aged mother of Thomas Lincoln, Bathsehba by name, remembered by her grand-children as “Granny Basheby," lived in the same county in which Abraham Lincoln was born, but so far away that if she ever saw him in the cradle we do not know it, and if he ever saw her he appears not to have remembered it. It is said, though not on very good authority, that John Hanks was invited to Abraham Lincoln's wedding; perhaps so, but no Lincoln was there. And when Abraham Lincoln lay dead in the White House, and three weeks later was buried in Springfield, there was no Lincoln present on either occasion, except the President's widow and her two sons. Nicolay and Hay comment upon the fact that even the great fame and conspicuousness of the President did not call forth his kin of the Lincoln name. We do not know that he ever met any of his first cousins named Lincoln, except on that day in Fountain Green, and there was only one of them left.

I wish greatly that I could produce a kodak picture of Abraham and Mordecai Lincoln sitting together on that occasion, and that I might give a short-hand account of their conversation. I do not have it. But I have something almost as good, and in some respects better. I have a package of old letters and other documents of Mordecai, and some of the writings of his closest kindred.

They could all write. The Hankses could not write, except Dennis and a few others. But I have yet to learn of a wholly illiterate Lincoln. Even Thomas Lincoln, the President's father, could “bunglingly sign his own name” as the President said, and also could read his Bible. Most of them could do more, and Mordecai had the pen of a ready writer. So had his two brothers, while they lived. Both were Justices of the Peace. Abraham Lincoln, the President, knew very well that there was an Abraham Lincoln, Justice of the Peace, in Hancock County; he was familiar with certain documents prepared by him. He also knew of certain land records signed by James B. Lincoln. Both these men were his cousins, sons of his father's oldest brother, Mordecai. But both were dead in 1858, and the only one remaining was Mordecai, the youngest of the three sons of old Mordecai.

In the very year, 1830, in which Thomas Lincoln moved with his family into Macon County, Illinois, two of his cousins who in the year 1829 had removed from Kentucky, came into Hancock County, and there made their home. There lies before me a letter of the younger Mordecai, dated Leitchfield, Kentucky, January 19, 1831, in answer to one which he had just received from James B. Lincoln, dated November 4, 1830. The letter had been between two and three months on the way. At the time of writing, these two brothers, James and Abraham, and a brother-in-law, Ben Mudd, were living in "State of Illinois, Hancock County, the head of the rapids," as the address reads. The letter of Mordecai was really addressed to all three families, and also to his father, the older Mordecai, who had ridden through on horseback to visit his Illinois children, and see about making a home there. But that was the "winter of the deep snow.” The older Mordecai was out on horseback on the day when the snow began to come down, not in flakes but by bucketsful, if the old settlers are to be believed. He had taken a good deal of liquor to keep out the cold, and the cold and the liquor together were too much for him. His sons Abraham and James, both carpenters and good ones, hewed a coffin out of puncheons, and as soon as the storm permitted they buried their father in a grave which cannot now be identified. He had been dead more than six weeks when the younger Mordecai wrote, but the news of his death had not reached Kentucky.

Before very long, Mary Mudd Lincoln, the widow of the older Mordecai, removed from Kentucky, and came to live with her Illinois children. She brought with her two unmarried daughters, Mary Rowena and Martha, both of whom found husbands in Illinois.

In 1836, the younger Mordecai left Grayson County, Kentucky, and thereafter lived in Illinois. He made his home with his mother, who was an aged woman at the time of Abraham Lincoln's visit, and died the following year. Mordecai lived until June 15, 1867, and voted twice for his cousin, Abraham. So far as is known, no Hanks ever voted for him except old John Hanks, who was transformed into a republican by the episode of the fence rails at the Decatur convention in 1860. Dennis Hanks, Lincoln's boyhood bedfellow, voted against him both in 1860 and in 1864. Some of the Hancock County Lincolns, also, were democrats, but not Mordecai. He voted for his cousin Abraham.

The two cousins had a good visit. Abraham Lincoln was interested in his own family history. When he was in Congress in 1848 he made inquiry concerning relatives who were descended from his father's Uncle Isaac. He did not know very much about his ancestry but the extent of his interest is suggested in the rather full account which he gave of the Lincolns, as compared with the very meager data he gave concerning the Hankses, in the two biographical sketches he prepared.

This story, which is getting under way more slowly than I could wish, yet which needs this background of accurate information, relates to the younger Mordecai, the one cousin whom Abraham Lincoln is known to have visited.

Like most of the Lincolns, Mordecai was skilled in the use of tools. Some mechanical aptitude characterized nearly all members of this family. Several of them were carpenters. They were good joiners, and could do mortising and beveling and mitering and dovetailing. I have seen specimens of their work, and it is good. Vordecai kept books. I have one of his account books now before me. He charged six dollars for a coffin, full size, and three dollars for a coffin for a child.

Mordecai was a shoemaker and also a tailor and a carpenter. He worked for high wages as they were then esteemed. Two dollars a day was what he reckoned his time to be worth. He was adept at the turning lathe. Two dollars paid him for making a large spinning wheel, and four dollars rewarded him for a set of six chairs. He made doors and windows, fitting the sash together and glazing them. Twenty-five cents paid him for turning out two large spools. He made a lathe for $4.50.

Mordecai Lincoln was a woman-hater. Every one said so.

He left Kentucky because a girl there was determined to marry him, and he was determined not to be married. Her name Patsy, and we know, but need not here record, her other name. I have a letter from her father, written from Kentucky, January 29, 1837, to James Lincoln, and one still earlier, dated September 4, 1836, to Abraham Lincoln, the other brother of Mordecai. He tells of "the painful circumstances of Mordecai's departure," and the effect which that departure has had on Patsy. "What makes it the more strange," he says, “is that I cannot learn that anything happened, nor can I conjecture anything, without it was a little pecuniary embarrassment that he could have got through in six months had he stuck to the noble resolution he took six or seven months previous.” Like his father, and like most men of the period, Mordecai sometimes drank rather too much, and I have a letter of his abo'it

was

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