Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith

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Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith

Also Known As: "Bud"
Birthplace: Riverside, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Death: December 24, 1985 (81)
Saluda, Middlesex County, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Ashes scattered in the James River
Immediate Family:

Son of Warren Wallace Beckwith and Jessie Harlan Lincoln
Husband of Hazel Beckwith and Margaret Hogan Hogan Fristoe
Ex-husband of Annamarie K. Beckwith
Father of Timothy Lincoln Beckwith
Brother of Mary Lincoln Beckwith and Beckwith
Half brother of Private and Private

Occupation: Attorney
Managed by: Walter William Dalitsch, III
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith

Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith (July 19, 1904 – December 24, 1985) was the great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln. In 1975, he became the last undisputed descendant of Lincoln when his sister, "Peggy" Beckwith, died without children. A disputed descendant, Timothy Lincoln Beckwith, was born to Robert Beckwith's then wife, Annemarie Hoffman Beckwith, in 1968.


Beckwith was born in Riverside, Illinois, to Jessie Harlan Lincoln and Warren Beckwith. As a young adult, he showed little interest in his schooling, passing two uneventful years at his grandfather Robert Todd Lincoln's previous boarding school, Phillips Exeter Academy. He then entered prep school in Washington, D.C., and a military academy in New York. He did not attend college, yet was said to have earned a degree from the National University Law School (founded in 1869 and merged with George Washington University Law School in 1954) as an attorney. Despite this, he tended to list his profession as "gentleman farmer of independent means" rather than lawyer. He served in the Coast Guard during World War II, which resulted in a lasting hobby of boating and sailing. He generally avoided the media and publicity. On one occasion, a newspaper published pictures of him smiling as a young man when arrested for speeding in the city of Omaha, Nebraska.

Beckwith's first marriage, which lasted 30 years, was to an older widow whose son was only ten years his junior. His second wife had a child and named him Timothy Lincoln Beckwith. During a divorce battle, the court ordered her to have her son undergo a blood test. Robert Beckwith lived most of his life in Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Robert "Bud" Beckwith died at the age of 81 on December 24, 1985 at around 6:05 pm.

Lincoln's Twisted Family Tree Joe Holley

Writing an obit last week for Margaret "Maggie" Fristoe Beckwith, I came across a fascinating 1994 New Yorker piece by Michael Beschloss about Mrs. Beckwith's late husband, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith. The president's great-grandson, Beckwith was the last Lincoln heir when he died in 1985. Or, should we say he might have been the last heir? That's the mystery Beschloss's article explores.

Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd had four sons, but three died young. The youngest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, lived to age 82. A Harvard-educated lawyer, banker and president of the Pullman Palace Car Co., he married Mary Harlan and had three children, daughter Mary, daughter Jessie and son Abraham II, who died at 16 of blood poisoning.

Daughter Jessie married Warren Wallace Beckwith, and the couple had two children: a daughter, Mary Lincoln Beckwith (nicknamed Peggy) and the son mentioned above, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith. Mary, Robert Todd Lincoln's other daughter, bore one child, Lincoln Isham.

Lincoln Isham married but never had children. Peggy, who was rumored to be a lesbian because she smoked cigars and wore men's pants, also never married or had children. That left Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, known as Bud, who had the potential of continuing the Lincoln line. The theologian Martin E. Marty, who knew Beckwith, wrote in The Christian Century a few years ago that "Bud was maritally adventurous, but not in a way to keep the line going."

He married three times but had no heirs. At least, that's what he said. His second wife claimed otherwise.

When he was 25, Beckwith married Hazel Holland Wilson, an older widow with two children. Although the couple stayed married until Hazel's death 25 years later, they had no children of their own.

Three years after Hazel's death, Beckwith, then 63, married Annemarie Hoffman, a 27-year-old German woman. Six months after the wedding, he found out she was pregnant. That was fine, except for the fact that six years earlier Beckwith had had a vasectomy with a prostatectomy.

Divorce proceedings began in 1976, and a court trial was set in motion to determine whether the boy, Timothy Lincoln Beckwith, was a legitimate Lincoln heir. By then he was 7 and stood to inherit more than $10 million.

In September 1976, Judge Joseph M. F. Ryan Jr. of the District of Columbia Superior Court granted the divorce and ruled that the child was the product of an "adulterous relationship." The judge said that another court would have to rule whether young Timothy could still seek the Lincoln fortune.

When Beckwith died in 1985, the three groups that were to inherit his millions -- Iowa Wesleyan College, the American Red Cross and the First Church of Christ, Scientist -- were worried about Timothy Beckwith, by then 17 and living in the U.S. with his remarried mother. The groups made him an offer -- Beschloss said it was more than $1 million. The teenager said yes, and with that the Lincoln family tree withered into history.

By Joe Holley | March 17, 2009;

LINCOLN GREAT-GRANDSON ROBERT BECKWITH DIES: Newspaper Obituary and Death Notice Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) - Thursday, December 26, 1985 Deceased Name: LINCOLN GREAT-GRANDSON ROBERT BECKWITH DIES Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, great-grandson and the last descendant of Abraham Lincoln, died Tuesday in a Saluda nursing home. He was 81.

Mr. Beckwith, who was a retired lawyer, had maintained homes in Chevy Chase, Md., and Hartfield in Middlesex County.

Elizabeth R. Young, the family's attorney, said Beckwith had been afflicted with Parkinson's disease in his later years.

Miss Young, who said she had represented the family for 40 years, said Mr. Beckwith never discussed his feelings about his famous heritage.

"We didn't talk about anything like that," she said. "Socially, it's not done, and in business I talked about what I was paid to talk about."

Last year, Mr. Beckwith told an interviewer for Life magazine that in his youth he had enjoyed sailing on Chesapeake Bay, raising Black Angus cattle on his farm here, and car racing.

"I'm a spoiled brat," he said.

Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, had four sons, but only one survived to manhood. Edward died in infancy, William Wallace died in 1862 at age 11, and Thomas died in 1871 at age 18.

The eldest, Robert Todd Lincoln, had a law career in Chicago, served as secretary of war under President Garfield, was minister to the Court of St. James and was president of the Pullman train car company. He died a multimillionaire in 1926 at age 82.

Robert Todd Lincoln and his wife, Mary, had three children. A son, Abraham Lincoln II, died at age 16 in 1890 while on a trip to Europe. Their youngest, Jessie, eloped in 1897 with Warren Beckwith, a classmate and football star at Iowa Wesleyan College.

The Beckwiths had two children: Mary Lincoln Beckwith, who died in 1975, and Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, who was born in Riverside, Ill., on July 19, 1904.

Mr. Beckwith received a law degree from what is now Georgetown University.He donated most of his famous forebearer's documents, artwork and furniture to the state of Illinois.

Miss Young said she did not believe Mr. Beckwith left any other Lincoln documents.

In February 1984, Mr. Beckwith had the name of his uncle, Abraham Lincoln II -- the president's grandson -- carved on the massive stone sarcophagus that marks the Arlington cemetery grave shared by the younger Lincoln and his parents, Robert Todd Lincoln and Mary Lincoln.

The younger Lincoln's name had been left off the monument because of rules prohibiting the listing of a minor's name. Until then, the only clue that the boy was buried there had been a small footstone with the initials "A.L. II," almost completely covered with grass and earth.

Mr. Beckwith was married three times, but his lawyer said he was childless.

He was the sole beneficiary of a trust fund established by the will of his grandmother, Mary Harlan Lincoln, who was wife of the president's son, Robert Todd Lincoln.

When Mary Harlan Lincoln died in 1937, the trust had assets valued at $1 million, according to Miss Young.

Because Mr. Beckwith was childless, the will provided that the trust fund be divided among three institutions.

Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Margaret Fristoe Beckwith of Chevy Chase, Md.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

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Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith's Timeline

July 19, 1904
Riverside, Cook County, Illinois, United States
October 14, 1968
Age 64
Williamsburg, Virginia, United States
December 24, 1985
Age 81
Saluda, Middlesex County, Virginia, United States
December 24, 1985
Age 81
Ashes scattered in the James River