|Birthplace:||York County, South Carolina, United States|
|Death:||Died in Cherokee County, North Carolina, United States|
|Place of Burial:||Murphy, Cherokee County, North Carolina, United States|
Son of Enoch Enloe; Enoch Enloe; Enoch Enloes; Agnes Enloe; Agnes(?) Sprucebanks
|Managed by:||Private User|
Matching family tree profiles for Abraham Enloe
About Abraham Enloe
Family history, as well as local legend, indicate that President Abraham Lincoln may have been one-fourth or more Cherokee Indian. According to Mormon records, the author descended from the alleged father of Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Enloe (not Abraham Lincoln). To go back another generation, Abra-ham Enloe’s father was Enock Enloes, born 1741 in Baltimore County, Maryland, died in 1799, in York County South Carolina. Enock Enloes was married to Agnes Sprucebank (born 1734), who was probably a Cherokee, although this is nearly impossible to prove. Quite often, data on Native America spouses on the frontier was limited or omitted for fears of later removal for them or their families. Their son was Abraham Enloe (born in 1770 in York County, South Carolina, died in 1841 in Murphy, North Carolina, which is in Swain County. (Murphy, N.C. Is in Cherokee County, N.C. not Swain County. - correction by R.C.Shope July 25, 2016) In 1899, less than 3 years after Lincoln’s assassination, James H. Cathey of Sylva, North Carolina, wrote and published the third edition book entitled, The Genesis of Lincoln in which he endeavors to prove “an interesting fact in the story of America’s most remarkable man.” Quoting interviews and letters from widely scattered sources, Cathey makes a case that Lincoln’s mother “Nancy Hanks, became pregnant as a servant girl in the home of Abraham Enloe, located on Ocona Lufta, about 14 miles from Bryson City which is now Swain County, North Carolina.” Cathey gave this description of Abraham Enloe: “In personal appearance, he is described by the family and those who knew him as having been a very large man, perhaps more, not less, than six feet high. Not corpulent, but muscular and sinewy. His head was large and fine. Forehead, nose and mouth prominent. His hair was stiff and black. His complexion was inclined to be tawny.” Abraham Enloe fathered nine sons and seven daughters by his wife (a former Miss Egerton). The ninth and only surviving son in 1899 was Wesley . Enloe. Wesley was 88 years old when he was interviewed by Cathey at the Enloe Home - the same house on the farm where his father and mother lived when Nancy Hanks was banished from the household and sent to Kentucky. Wesley Enloe said in 1889, “I was born after the incident between my father and Nancy Hanks. I have, however, a vivid recollection of hearing the name Nancy Hanks frequently mentioned when I was a boy. No, I never heard my father mention it; he was always silent on the subject as far as I know… I have no doubt that the cause of my father sending her to Kentucky is one generally alleged.” Cathey interviewed Joseph A. Collins, then 6 and living in Clyde in Haywood County, North Carolina. Collins said “He met a Judge Gilmore in 1867, who stated he knew Nancy Hanks before she married, and that they had a child she called Abraham. While the child was yet small, Collins quoted Judge Gilmore, she married a man by the name Lincoln after which the boy was known as Abraham Lincoln.” Captain James W. Terrell (born in Rutherford County, North Carolina December 1829) recalled a conversation with a Dr. Egerton of Hendersonville, North Carolina a relative of Mrs. Abraham Enloe. Dr. Egerton told him, Terrell said, that in the fall of 1860, just before the Presidential election, he had a guest in his home, a Mr. Davis, also a Rutherford County native, who had moved to Illinois in the early 1800’s and had become “intimately acquainted with Abraham Lincoln.” “In a private and confidential talk,” Davis is quoted as saying, “Lincoln told him he was of Southern extraction and that his right name was, or ought to have been Enloe, but that he had always gone by the name of his stepfather.” It is said anyone who saw Wesley Enloe, son of Abraham Enloe and a half-brother of President Lincoln, was struck by the resemblance of one to the other as can be seen in this one-of-a-kind photographic comparison.
The quote below wrongly states that Abraham Enlow would have been 15 years old when Abraham Lincoln was born, but all one has to do is to compare the birth dates of the 2 to see there is over 30 years difference. I would say some pretty sketchy research.
"Charles Friend wrote this letter to William Herndon on July31, 1889.
- I heard the question put to Old Abe Enlows by my brother in law, Mr. A. H. Redman, with another gentleman present, Dr. W. H . Holt. Redman asked if it was true, that he is the father of Abe Lincoln. He remarked that it was an honor to be proud to even be thought of as a father of a President. But, I said, he was only 15 years old when Abe was born. Then said Redman, you could not have been, being you were only 14 when he was begotten. Now, said Abe Enlow, to set the story straight, I will say I never put my hands on her, and further, I believe he is the son of Thomas Lincoln. I think this all grew out of his name being the same as mine, but I can account for the name. His grandfather was Abraham Lincoln, was killed by the Indians on the Salt River, not far from where we now stand.
Abraham Enloe, himself, stated this isn't correct." -- Vicky Paulson
Was Abraham Enloe the secret father of Abraham Lincoln? Abraham Enloe, himself, stated this isn't correct." -- Vicky Paulson
Arguments for Yes & No
In 1899, less than 35 years after Lincoln’s assassination, James H. Cathey of Sylva wrote and published the third edition of a book, entitled “The Genesis of Lincoln,” in which he endeavors to prove “an interesting fact in the story of America’s most remarkable man.”
Quoting interviews and letters from widely scattered sources, Cathey makes a case that Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks, became pregnant as a servant girl in the home of Abraham Enloe, located on Ocona Lufta, about 14 miles from Bryson City in what is now Swain County.
Abraham Enloe fathered nine sons and seven daughters by his wife (a former Miss Egerton). The ninth and only surviving son in 1899 was Wesley M. Enloe. Wesley was 88 years old when he was interviewed by Cathey at the Enloe home — the same house on the same farm where his father and mother lived when Nancy Hanks was banished from the household and sent to Kentucky.
Wesley Enloe said in 1899: “I was born after the incident between father and Nancy Hanks. I have, however, a vivid recollection of hearing the name Nancy Hanks frequently mentioned when I was a boy. No, I never heard my father mention it; he was always silent on the subject so far as I know.. . . I have no doubt that the cause of my father’s sending her to Kentucky is the one generally alleged.”
Cathey interviewed Joseph A. Collins, then 56 and living in Clyde in Haywood County. Collins said he met a Judge Gilmore in 1867, who said he knew Nancy Hanks before she was married, and that she then had a child she called Abraham. “While the child was yet small,” Collins quoted Judge Gilmore, “she married a man by the name of Lincoln, after which the boy was known as Abraham Lincoln.”
“Years ago,” Collins quoted Judge Gilmore, “on Turkey Creek in Buncombe County, N.C., I met an old gentleman whose name was Phillis Wells. Wells said he was then 90 years old. When he was a young man he traveled over the country selling tinware and buying furs, feathers and ginseng. On one occasion he called on Abraham Enloe to stay overnight, as was his custom.”
Enloe went with Wells to the barn to put up the peddler’s horse, Judge Gilmore said. While there, Enloe told Wells: “My wife is mad; about to tear up the place; she has not spoken to me in two weeks, and I wanted to tell you about it before you went in the house.”
Wells asked, “What is the matter?” And Abraham Enloe replied, “The trouble is about Nancy Hanks, a hired girl we have living with us.”
As Cathey reports it, Wells said he returned to the Enloe place some time later and by that time Abraham Enloe had sent Nancy Hanks to Jonathan’s Creek and hired a family there to take care of her, and that later a child was born to Nancy Hanks and she named him Abraham.
An Asheville lawyer named Col. Davidson, who married into the Enloe family, and who settled Abraham Enloe’s estate, related that shortly after the Civil War a man came to his office and introduced himself as a son of Nancy Enloe Thompson. The Thompson man stated that he was a Democrat and had been an Indian agent during Lincoln’s administration.
“I asked,” Col. Davidson said, “why Lincoln, who was a Republican, appointed a Democrat an Indian agent. Thompson replied that the President was under some great obligation to his [Thompson’s] mother, and had expressed a desire to aid her in some substantial way. ‘This is the way I got my appointment,’ he told me.”
Capt. James W. Terrell (born in Rutherford County in December 1829) recalled a conversation with a Dr. Egerton of Hendersonville, a relative of Mrs. Abraham Enloe. Dr. Egerton told him, Terrell said, that in the fall of 1860, just before the Presidential election, he had a guest in his home, a Mr. Davis, also a Rutherford County native, who had moved to Illinois in the early 1850s and had become “intimately acquainted with Abraham Lincoln.”
“In a private and confidential talk,” Davis is quoted as saying, Lincoln told him he was of Southern extraction, that his right name was, or ought to have been, Enloe, but that he had always gone by the name of his stepfather.
After reading Cathey’s book, I picked up the Hendersonville phone book and called the first three Enloes listed. “The story is common knowledge in the family,” Bryce Enloe of Edneyville told me. “I come from the same set of Enloes.”
“I heard it from my grandparents,” said Keith Enloe of Laurel Park. “It has been passed down from generation to generation.”
“Abraham Enloe was my great-great grandfather,” said Robert Enloe of Big Willow community. “I’ve heard the story all my life. I know it is true.”
Was Abraham Lincoln the son of a western North Carolina farmer? You be the judge.
The challenge to Lincoln’s paternity is a very old challenge beginning as early as his nomination for the presidency in 1860. In fact, there are currently a total of 16 individuals who various authors have claimed hold such a distinction, if distinction is the right word. Among these sixteen are such notables as John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Patrick Henry. More directly to the question of Abraham Enlow, there are actually four men with the name of Enlow, or a variation thereof, who are alleged to have fathered Lincoln. They are: Abraham Enlow of LaRue County, Kentucky; Abraham Enlows of Hardin County, Kentucky; Abraham Inlow of Bourbon County, Kentucky; and Abraham Enloe of Rutherford County, North Carolina. It is the latter individual that is currently making the rounds.
The Rutherford County claim stems from two early works that can be traced to author James Cathey (and later J. C. Coggins). According to these authors, Abraham Lincoln “...was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina about 1804,...” The extant record disproves this spurious statement.
The earliest record that we have for Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks, is dated June 11, 1806, in Washington County, Kentucky. It is a bond for her marriage to Thomas Lincoln which occurred one day later on June 12, 1806. A second record, the marriage return of the minister who performed the marriage (Jesse Head), is also extant and lists the marriage as occurring on June 12, 1806, in Washington County, Kentucky. We can place both Nancy Hanks and Thomas Lincoln in Washington County, Kentucky at this time. According to the Enloe legend, Abraham would have been two years old at the time (born 1804).
The Enloe legend continues, “After that, Enloe found Tom Lincoln, an itinerant worker, and paid him a sum of money to marry Nancy Hanks and give her and the boy a home and name. Tom Lincoln agreed to the deal and left for Kentucky with little Abe and Nancy, whom he married in 1806”). This statement places Thomas Lincoln in North Carolina between 1804 (little Abe’s alleged birth), and 1806 (Tom and Nancy’s marriage in Kentucky). While written documentation proving Nancy’s whereabouts during 1804 and 1805 is lacking, there exist several oral traditions which place her in the home of Richard Berry in Washington County, Kentucky during this period, and here is precisely where we find her in June of 1806 adding credibility to those traditions.
More important, however, we do have documentary records which tell us exactly where Thomas Lincoln was living during this period, and considerably before and after this period. Thomas Lincoln can be located in Washington County, Kentucky from 1786 to 1803. From 1803 to 1806, we can document his location in Hardin County, Kentucky (Mill Creek farm near Elizabethtown, Kentucky), and from 1806 to 1808 (Elizabethtown, Kentucky), from 1808 to 1811 (Sinking Spring farm), 1811 to 1816 (Knob Creek farm), etc. Each of these locations is identified by a variety of records which are readily available (tax records, mortgages, jury records, deeds, bills of sale, records of debt, etc.).
During the crucial period of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, and Enloe’s alleged meeting with Thomas Lincoln, we can unequivocally place Lincoln in Hardin County, Kentucky. So if Enloe met with Lincoln to cut a deal, Enloe must have journeyed from Rutherford County, North Carolina to Hardin County, Kentucky to make the deal. This makes no sense. Enloe surely could have found another “...itinerant worker” in North Carolina to assume the task (for money) rather than undertake so long a journey to Hardin County, Kentucky.
To the best of our knowledge, Thomas Lincoln was never in North Carolina, and can be traced from his place of birth in Rockingham County, Virginia to his place of death in Charleston, Illinois. He never “... left” North Carolina for Kentucky as these authors claim. This is the most damaging evidence against the claim.
What other information do we have which bears on this subject? Abraham Lincoln had an older sister, Sarah Lincoln, born in 1807 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. If older, she must have been born in North Carolina according to the Enloe legend. Was Enloe also the father of Sarah? If born in 1807, Sarah would in fact be younger than Abe. Assuming Sarah was born in 1807, and was therefore younger than Abraham according to the Enloe legend, all subsequent information about this girl is confusing. She married Aaron Grigsby while living in Indiana with her family in 1828 (age 21) when Abe was yet 19 (or was he 24?). Surely the difference between 19 and 24 would have been obvious.
Equally confusing about this age difference (1804 vs. 1809) can be found in Lincoln’s own hand. The earliest record we have of Lincoln is dated 1824 and consists of his writing in a homemade school assignment book. These fragments of Lincoln’s school assignments contain a short rhyme which Lincoln wrote about himself as well as simple mathematical calculations. If born in 1804, he would be 20 years old at the time of the writings as opposed to 15 years old (1809). Although open to debate, it seems far more likely that Lincoln was 15 and attending school in 1824 rather than 20 years old. Lincoln did not attend school at the age of 20 or, at least, there are no claims that he was still in school at age 20. While a five year differential is not obvious in the “mature” years of a person’s life, it is very obvious during one’s early (teen) years.
When the Lincolns left Indiana and moved to Illinois in 1830, Abraham Lincoln helped his parents locate near Decatur (Illinois), helping to erect a cabin. He then proceeded to strike out on his own winding up in New Salem where he began his long climb to the presidency. This date is important because it represents his becoming 21 years old (the age of majority) and no longer under legal obligation to his father. If born in 1804, he would have been 26 years old, five years past his age of majority. Again, this is not proof, but certainly is more consistent with the accepted birth date of 1809 rather than 1804.
Of course, there are Lincoln’s own statements about his nativity. Lincoln wrote in an autobiographical sketch, “I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky.” A skeptic can ignore these statements by Lincoln under the presumption that one can never be absolutely sure where one’s paternity resides even with certain documentation. The only reason to reject the 1809 birth date is that the Lincoln’s can be unequivocally placed in Kentucky and not North Carolina.
But before we dismiss the currently accepted oral traditions and documentation that supports, and in some instances, proves those traditions, we should ask ourselves why the alternate traditions (Enlow, et. al.) are more believable, and whether they have any documentation to support them. The North Carolina tradition has no documentation (primary records) of any sort to lend credibility to it, and fails when challenged by all the existing documentation that does exist. It is based exclusively on one man’s writings decades after Lincoln’s death, and to nothing more. My recollection, without specifically checking the records, is that there were a total of sixteen Nancy Hanks living during the period in question. The person most often confused with Lincoln’s mother was her aunt (Lincoln’s great Aunt), also named Nancy Hanks, who was the mother of an illegitimate child named Dennis Hanks. Adin Baber, a Hanks genealogist, has placed several of these Nancy Hanks in North Carolina (as well as Virginia and Kentucky) during this period. In no instance does he place Nancy hanks Lincoln (or her parents) in North Carolina.
The legend that a man named Abraham Enloe fathered a boy whose mother was named Nancy Hanks may be true, but the woman clearly was not the Nancy Hanks who married Thomas Lincoln and the baby was not Abraham Lincoln who became the 16th President.
Those who find it “...hard to believe that Tom Lincoln, who was stocky, of no more than medium height, low-browed, and with no particular intellectual gifts, was the father of the future President...”, should rest easy. All of these characteristics are polygenic, that is, not due to a single gene, but many genes in combination. Those who doubt this genetic fact should take a look at the average heights of the parents of NBA basketball players.
That Thomas Lincoln can clearly be tracked from 1786 through 1851, especially during the crucial period 1803 through 1809, seems proof enough that Abraham Enloe of North Carolina had no knowledge of, or contact with him. This in itself washes away the foundation of the North Carolina claim. Of course, at the time the claim first appeared, its prevaricators did not know records existed in the Kentucky courthouses which would eventually surface and challenge the claim. There are always a few guns that do not smoke until several years after they are fired. The current case is a good example of this.
While there is more evidence, it is circumstantial, and not as direct as the tracking of Lincoln’s father at the time of the alleged Enloe “arrangement.”
The best reference to check on the specific question of Lincoln’s paternity can be found in The Lincoln Kinsman written by Louis A. Warren: Number 31 (January, 1941) and Number 53 (November, 1942). Also William E. Barton, The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln, George H. Doran Company, 1920, and Louis A. Warren, Lincoln’s Parentage and Childhood, Century Company, 1920.
Rumored to have been the natural father of Abraham Lincoln in an 1893 article in the Charlotte Observer, written by an anonymous writer under the pseudonym "Student of History". The article states that the Enloes brought an orphan named Nancy Hanks into their Rutherford County, NC, home back when she was 10 or 12 around the year 1800. Some 6-10 years later, the family moved to Oconoluftee, at the edges of the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, during which time the Enloe's natural daughter Nancy eloped, and servant Nancy Hanks became pregnant with Abraham, who later took on the name Lincoln when Nancy married Thomas Lincoln.
This rumor was later dispelled by William E. Barton in his book "The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln", who observed that Abraham's birth took place three years after her marriage with Thomas Lincoln.
Abraham Enloe's Timeline
York County, South Carolina, United States
Rutherford County, North Carolina, United States
October 25, 1799
April 15, 1804
Haywood County, North Carolina, United States
North Carolina, United States
Old Buncombe County, North Carolina
North Carolina, United States