Thomas Herring Lincoln, Sr.

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Thomas Herring Lincoln, Sr.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Linville Creek, Augusta County, Virginia, United States
Death: Died in Charleston, Coles County, Illinois, United States
Place of Burial: Thomas Lincoln Cemetery, Pleasant Grove Township, Coles County, Illinois, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Capt. Abraham Lincoln, Sr. (Continental militia) and Bathsheba Cofer
Husband of Nancy Lincoln and Sarah Lincoln
Father of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the USA; Sarah "Sally" Lincoln and Thomas Herring Lincoln, Jr.
Brother of Mordecai Lincoln, Sr.; Josiah Mordecai Lincoln; Mary Ada (Lincoln) Crume; Nancy Ann Brumfield and Abigail Morse
Half brother of Judah Cofer

Occupation: Pioneer, Farmer, Went back to Kentucky, six months latcame back with new wife, American farmer, farmer, carpenter
Managed by: Bianca May Evelyn Brennan
Last Updated:

About Thomas Herring Lincoln, Sr.

Click here to view the web page for Thomas H. Lincoln at findagrave.com

See also Wikipedia entry for Thomas Lincoln.

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Thomas Herring Lincoln (January 6, 1778 – January 17, 1851) was an American farmer and father of President Abraham Lincoln.

Thomas Lincoln was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, the fourth child of Abraham Lincoln (1744–1786) and Bathsheba Herring (c1742–1836). He moved to the state of Kentucky in the 1780s with his family. In May 1786, Thomas witnessed the murder of his father by Native Americans "…when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest." That fall, his mother moved the family to Washington County, Kentucky (near Springfield), where Thomas lived until the age of eighteen. From 1795 to 1802, Thomas held a variety of jobs in several locations.

Marriage and family

Kentucky

In 1802 he moved to Hardin County, Kentucky, where one year later he purchased a 238-acre (1.0 km2) farm. Four years later, on June 12, 1806, he married Nancy Hanks. A record of their marriage bond is located at the Washington County, Kentucky courthouse.

Their first child, a daughter named Sarah Lincoln, was born in 1807. Thomas bought a 300-acre (1.2 km2) farm in Nolin Creek, Kentucky. There on February 12, 1809, his son Abraham was born. A third child, Thomas, Jr., died in infancy. All three of their children were born in Hardin Co., KY.

Neighbors reported that Nancy Hanks Lincoln was much smarter than her husband, a strong personality who taught young Abraham his letters as well as the extraordinary sweetness and forbearance he was known for all his life. Lincoln said his father Thomas never learned to read and could scarcely sign his own name. The early death of Thomas's father and his mother's poverty had forced him into a hardscrabble life of odd jobs and wandering. Lincoln, probably alluding to the early education and encouragement he received from his mother, said later that everything he was, he owed to her.

Thomas was active in community and church affairs in Hardin County. He served as a jury member, a petitioner for a road, and as a guard for county prisoners. He was a rough carpenter and hired hand when he had to make ends meet carpenter. Like many young men of his generation, he thought he would find success in the west where land was there for the taking; but like dozens of others, Thomas fell victim to land laws widely described as chaotic. On three separate occasions, defective titles caused him to lose his farm. Discouraged by these setbacks, he decided to move his family to Indiana where the land ordinance of 1785 ensured that land once purchased and paid for was retained. Abraham Lincoln claimed many years later that his father’s move from Kentucky to Indiana was "partly on account of slavery, but chiefly on account of the difficulty of land titles in Kentucky."

Indiana

In December 1816, the Lincolns settled near Little Pigeon Creek in southern IN, where Thomas and Abraham set to work carving a home from the Indiana wilderness. Father and son worked side by side to clear the land, plant the crops and build a home. Thomas also found that his skills as a carpenter were in demand as the community grew.

In October 1818, Nancy Hanks Lincoln contracted milk sickness by drinking milk of a cow that had eaten the white snakeroot plant. There was no cure for the disease and on October 5, 1818, Nancy died. For over a year, Thomas and his children lived alone, until December 2, 1819, when he married Sarah Bush, a widow from Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Sarah and her three children, Elizabeth, Matilda, and John, joined Abraham, Sarah and Dennis Hanks (a cousin of Nancy's who had lived with the Sparrow family, before they also died from milk sickness) to make a new family of eight.

John C. Waugh, in his book, Lincoln and McClellan, discusses how the union of Thomas Lincoln and Sarah Bush came about. Thomas could stand the misery for only so long after the death of his first wife without a companion for himself and a mother for his children. In late 1819, he rode back to Kentucky to try his luck. He remembered Sarah Johnston, a woman he had known before, now a widow with three children of her own. Wasting no time or words, he said to her, "Well, Miss Johnson, I have no wife & you have no husband. I came a purpose to marry you. I knowed you from a gal & you knowed me from a boy. I have no time to lose and if you are willing, let it be done straight off." Sarah is said to have said, "Tommy, I know you well & have no objection to marrying you, but I cannot do it straight off as I owe some debts that must first be paid." tom covered her debts that same day, and the next, December 2, 1819, they were married. They packed all she owned and her three children, ages nine, seven, and five, in a four-horse wagon and left for Indiana. there Sarah became an instant and beloved mother to her two new stepchildren.

Illinois

Thomas had a restless nature and when John Hanks, a cousin who had once lived with the Lincolns, moved to Illinois and sent back glowing reports of fertile prairie that didn't need the backbreaking work of clearing forest before crops could be planted, he sold his Indiana land and in 1830, moved first to Macon County, Illinois, and eventually to Coles County in 1831. The homestead site on Goosenest Prairie, about 10 miles (16 km) south of Charleston, Illinois, is preserved as the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, although his original saddlebag log cabin was lost after being disassembled and shipped to Chicago for display at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Thomas Lincoln, already in his fifties, remained a resident of the county for the rest of his life and is buried at nearby Shiloh Cemetery.

Relationship with son Abraham Lincoln

Thomas's relationship with his son Abraham was probably typical of that time and place. For the first two hundred years in the Colonies and then in the United States, relations between parents and children were marked by duty and obedience; affection was not considered normal or even desirable. Affection made its appearance between parents and children when parents started living past their fifties, and after what Fischer called a revolution in age relations. Children stopped revering their parents simply because they were older. That started about 1780, but the effects were slow to be felt in the hardscrabble world Thomas inhabited, where his own father had been killed when Thomas was only six, and he had probably never received a scrap of affection in his life. His own mother was desperately poor and Thomas had been obliged to grow up fast. As he must have seen it, as Abraham's father he was the exalted elder, Abraham's job was to obey him. On dirt farms, children were physical assets, and parents exploited them. Tall and strong for his age, and all Thomas had in the way of labor to help him, Abraham was put to work early.

But accounts that Thomas encouraged his son's education are not supported. On the contrary, contemporaries tell that he occasionally burned Abraham's books because he thought reading was an indolent pastime that interfered with real work. This attitude persisted well into the 20th Century in rural communities. Thomas sometimes struck Abraham if he thought he was neglecting his work by doing too much reading, or if he inserted himself into adult conversations. By his stepmother's account Abraham was a sweet, accommodating child, never cross or defiant, so it's difficult to explain Thomas's harshness any other way than that it was how he was treated as a child. In the context of his own culture, not our modern-day one, when he hired out his son to pay off a debt, he was doing no worse than thousands of other fathers who needed cash. But it meant the end of Abraham's chances to go to school.

Subservience to a father who showed no affection, who did not appreciate his gifts, and who, his son could not help but notice, was not his intellectual equal, had to be traumatic. Abraham's later allusions to his father's illiteracy and lack of ambition hint at the sort of shot one makes at a god whose feet were discovered to be made of clay. There was hurt there, and a sense of unjustice.

What made Abraham judge his father was what Fisher called a revolution in age relations. The idea that all men are created equal had caught the American imagination. This logically extended to sons and fathers. Thomas's tyranny didn't mean only that Abraham had no free will to work on the farm or not. It also deprived him of intellectual growth. Abraham read books; there was no one to talk to about them.

Another new phenomenon was that Abraham's generation was ambitious. It had been the way for generations that the last son continued to labor on his aging father's farm until the father died, then inherited the property. Abraham did not want his father's life. The Louisiana Purchase had opened up opportunities for new careers their fathers never dreamed of. You could go as far as your talent and ambition would take you. Foreign visitors remarked on the "longing to rise" that infected young Americans.

Abraham made his break right around the time his father moved the family (yet again) to Coles County, Illinois in 1831. After the future president parted company with his father, he did have some contact. By 1841, Thomas owned 120 acres of land but eventually sold a third of his land to Abraham (now a successful lawyer) to get out of financial difficulty. Abe Lincoln held on to this land for the purpose of providing a living place for his devoted stepmother in the event of his father's death. In 1848, Thomas again received money from his son to save the rest of the land from a forced sale.

We know from Abraham's account only that he put a small bundle of things on his shoulder and left on foot. All his public life, Abraham never made a momentous decision without lengthy and solitary reflection. Even after he had made his decision, he would wait until the timing was right, when opponents came around to thinking it was a good idea on their own. Perhaps that was the case here, because twenty-two seems a little late. And as with all his decisions, once he made up his mind, he never changed it. Abraham sent money home, and made executive decisions after his father died, but he never put hand to plow again.

Their relationship has been called "strained." It's much more interesting than that. Thomas and his son had been caught in a period of social transition. If the younger generation chaffed, it was the older that suffered the shocking loss of what they expected, ever since youth, they would be entitled to. When age was no longer considered proof of God's favor and deserving of veneration, it must have been the ultimate tragedy to have been young when age was exalted, and then be old when it was not.

Although Abraham rushed to see his father during an illness in 1849, he did not see him on his deathbed the next winter, citing work and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln's recent childbirth. "Say to him", he wrote his stepbrother John D. Johnston (to whom Thomas Lincoln was much closer) "that if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant; but that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before; and where the rest of us, through the help of God, hope ere-long to join them." This was at odds with his opinion at the time of Ann Rutledge's death that there was no Hereafter. But perhaps he meant to be comforting. Abraham did not attend his father's funeral. "He was not heartless", historian David Herbert Donald wrote, "but Thomas Lincoln represented a world that his son had long ago left behind him." Abraham did visit the grave of his father during a visit with his stepmother with whom he kept a close relationship until his death.

Throughout all of Abraham Lincoln's writings, and the recollections of his speech, "he had not one favorable word to say about his father." However, he named his fourth son Thomas, which "suggested that Abraham Lincoln's memories of his father were not all unpleasant.". That may have been the reason, but naming a son after his grandfather was conventional enough, and by Number Four, the Lincolns were running out of names. A generation earlier, when exaltation of grandparents was the rule, Abraham would have been expected to name his first son Thomas (Abraham was named after Thomas's father).

But for all Abraham's reticence about his father, one thing speaks for itself. Thomas was a popular storyteller with a remarkable memory and gift for mimicry. Abraham spent his earliest years in the corner of the room listening to the grownups, learning to emulate his father and enthrall his own friends later with a limitless supply of stories. It was one of his great political skills.

The following is excerpted from the National Park Service retrieved October 31, 2007 from http://www.nps.gov/archive/liho/family/thomas.htm:

“Thomas was born in Virgina, and his family soon brought him west to Kentucky. Indians killed his father, named Abraham Lincoln, while he was clearing farmland, leaving young Thomas and his family fatherless. He moved to Hardin County, Kentucky in 1802, and one year later, purchased his first farm. Thomas married Nancy Hanks on June 12, 1806. They had three children: Sarah (February 10, 1807), Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809), and Thomas (1812) who died in infancy.

“Historical documents show that Thomas was a responsible citizen and community leader, but he repeatedly fell victim to Kentucky's chaotic land laws and was constantly frustrated by the presence of slavery. In 1816, Thomas and his family crossed the Ohio River and purchased a farm directly from the Federal Government in what is today Spencer County, Indiana.

“Two years later his wife died due to milk sickness, and Thomas married a widow, Sarah Bush Johnston.

“Although Lincoln developed a close relationship with his stepmother, his relationship with his father was strained. In 1830, he moved with his father for the last time when they travelled to Illinois. A year later, he set out on his own. His father continued farming in Coles County, Illinois until his death in 1851. He was buried in the Shiloh Cemetery, near his Illinois farm.

“Sources: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, (1982) by Mark Neely and Lincoln's Youth (1959) by Louis A. Warren.”

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Thomas Lincoln was born in Rockingham County, Virginia. He moved to the state of Kentucky in the 1780s with his family. In May, 1786, Thomas witnessed the murder of his father by Indians "…when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest." That fall, his mother moved the family to Washington County, Kentucky (near Springfield), where Thomas lived until the age of eighteen. From 1795 to 1802, Thomas held a variety of jobs in several locations. These jobs increased his earning power and helped to feed the Lincoln family.

Marriage and family

In 1802 he moved to Hardin County, Kentucky, where one year later, he purchased a 238-acre farm. Four years later, on June 12, 1806, he married Nancy Hanks. Their first child, a daughter named Sarah Lincoln, was born a year later. In 1808, Thomas bought a 300-acre farm in Nolin Creek, Kentucky. There on February 12, 1809, his son Abraham was born. A third child, Thomas, Jr., died in infancy.

Thomas was active in community and church affairs in Hardin County. He served as a jury member, a petitioner for a road, and as a guard for county prisoners. He could read a little, was a skilled carpenter, and was a property owner. However, like dozens of others, Thomas fell victim to land laws widely described as chaotic. On three separate occasions, defective titles caused him to lose his farm. Discouraged by these setbacks, he decided to move his family to Indiana where the land ordinance of 1785 ensured that land once purchased and paid for was retained. Abraham Lincoln claimed many years later that his father’s move from Kentucky to Indiana was "partly on account of slavery, but chiefly on account of the difficulty of land titles in Kentucky."

In December, 1816, the Lincolns settled near Little Pigeon Creek where Thomas and Abraham set to work carving a home from the Indiana wilderness. Father and son worked side by side to clear the land, plant the crops and build a home. Thomas also found that his skills as a carpenter were in demand as the community grew.

In October, 1818, Nancy Hanks Lincoln contracted the dreaded milk sickness by drinking poisoned milk of a cow that had eaten the White Snakeroot plant. There was no cure for the disease and on October 5, 1818, Nancy died. For over a year, Thomas and his children lived alone, until December 2, 1819, when he married Sarah Bush, a widow from Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Sarah and her three children – Elizabeth, Matilda, and John – joined Abraham, Sarah and Dennis Hanks (a cousin of Nancy’s who had lived with the Sparrows until their death from the same outbreak of milk sickness that had killed Nancy) to make a new family of eight.

In addition to working as a carpenter, managing a farm, and looking after his family, Thomas also assisted in building the Little Pigeon Baptist Church, where he was a member and served as church trustee. By 1827, he had earned enough money to pay his debt on 100 acres of land.

Despite his success in Indiana, Thomas decided to move his family to Illinois in 1830. John Johnston, his stepson, who was by then an adult, moved there and sent glowing reports of the fertile ground that was available. In addition, because it was prairie, there was no need for the backbreaking work of clearing the land. Thomas sold his Indiana land and moved first to Macon County, Illinois and eventually to Coles County in 1821. The homestead site on Goosenest Prairie, about 10 miles south of Charleston, Illinois, is preserved as the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, although his original saddlebag log cabin was lost after being disassembled and shipped to Chicago for display at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. His son Abraham left to start his own homestead at New Salem, Illinois during the family’s move to Coles County. Thomas Lincoln remained a resident of the county for the rest of his life and is buried at nearby Shiloh Cemetery. [1]

Lincoln had an uneasy relationship with his son that became increasingly distant as they grew older. He was not "a harsh father or a brutal disciplinarian," and encouraged his son's reading and education. However, Thomas sometimes struck Abraham if he thought he was neglecting his work by doing too much reading, or if he inserted himself into adult conversations.[1] Abraham, who had little knowledge of his father's early struggles, looked down upon him and thought he was lazy and unambitious. The younger Lincoln credited any gifts he had to his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln -- less for her personal qualities than for his belief that his gifts came from his unknown grandfather, who fathered her out of wedlock.[2] Although Abraham rushed to see his father during an illness in 1849, he did not see him on his deathbed the next winter, blaming work and Mary Todd's Lincoln's recent childbirth (although neither was a very serious obstacle). "Say to him," he wrote his stepbrother John D. Johnston (to whom Thomas Lincoln was much closer) "that if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant; but that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before; and where the rest of us, through the help of God, hope ere-long to join them."[3] Abraham did not attend his father's funeral, he died in Coles County, Illinois. "He was not heartless," historian David Herbert Donald wrote, "but Thomas Lincoln represented a world that his son had long ago left behind him."[4]

Throughout all of Abraham Lincoln's writings, and the recollections of his speech, "he had not one favorable word to say about his father."[5] However, he named his fourth son Thomas, which "suggested that Abraham Lincoln's memories of his father were not all unpleasant and perhaps hinted at guilt for not having attended his funeral."[6]

Notes

  1. ^ Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York; Touchstone, 1995, 32.
  2. ^ Donald, 23
  3. ^ Donald, 153
  4. ^ Donald, 153
  5. ^ Donald, 33
  6. ^ Donald, 154

Sources:

  • This article incorporates text from [2], a work of the National Park Service and as such in the public domain.

Find A Grave Memorial # 8255.

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Curator Note: The "Shipley connection" of this lineage has been shown to be false. Thomas' wife is a Lee, not a Shipley.

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Thomas Herring Lincoln, Sr.'s Timeline

1778
January 6, 1778
Linville Creek, Augusta County, Virginia, United States
1780
January 20, 1780
Age 2
Hardin, Marshall County, Kentucky, United States
January 20, 1780
Age 2
Harding, Kentucky
January 20, 1780
Age 2
Harding, Ky
1806
June 12, 1806
Age 28
United States
1807
February 10, 1807
Age 29
Elizabethtown, Hardin, Kentucky, United States
1809
February 12, 1809
Age 31
Hodgenville, Hardin County, Kentucky, United States
1811
February 19, 1811
Age 33
Larue, Kentucky, United States
1819
December 2, 1819
Age 41
United States
1851
January 17, 1851
Age 73
Charleston, Coles County, Illinois, United States