Photo: Abraham Lincoln in 1846 at age 37.Contributed/Bob Cox
According to historical research, Abraham Lincoln and his vice president, Andrew Johnson, had ties with the Stoney Creek section of Carter County. The president’s parents, Tom and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, lived on property owned by Tom’s uncle, Isaac Lincoln, who was unmarried at the time. He later wed Mary Ward. Situated on a sizable tract of land, their two-story brick home with white columns faced the forks in the Watauga River.
Johnson, who became president after Lincoln’s assassination, was visiting his daughter, Mary Stover, when he was notified of the tragedy. The Stover home faced Stoney Creek almost opposite Tom and Mary’s dwelling. The couple moved from that locale to Kentucky just a few weeks prior to the birth of their son, Abraham. That suggests that Honest Abe was born in Kentucky but conceived in Tennessee.
The man who would in seven years become our country’s 16th president answered a letter written to him by a cousin, a Dr. Lincoln of Chattanooga. In it, he mentions Carter County:
“Springfield, Illinois, April 3, 1854. My Dear Sir: On yesterday I had the pleasure of receiving your letter of the 16th of March. From what you say, there can be no doubt that you and I are in the same family. The history of your family, as you give it, is precisely what I have always heard and partly know of my own.
“As you have supposed, I am the grandson of your uncle Abraham and the story of his death by the Indians and of Uncle Mordecai, then 14 years old, killing one of the Indians, is the legend most prominent of all others imprinted upon my mind and memory. I am the son of grandfather’s youngest son, Thomas. I have often heard my father speak of his uncle, Isaac, residing on the near where the then states of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee join. You seem now to be some hundred miles or so west of there.
“I often saw Uncle Mordacai and Uncle Josiah but never in my life resided near either or them. Uncle Mordecai died in 1831 or 1832 in Hancock County, Illinois, where he had then tentatively removed from Kentucky and where his children had also removed and still reside, as I understand. Whether Uncle Josiah is dead or living I cannot tell, not having heard from him for more than 20 years. When I last heard from him, he was living on the Blue River, Hancock County, Indiana, I think, and where he has resided ever since before the beginning of my recollection.
“My father, Thomas, died the 17th of January, 1851, in Coles County, Illinois, where he had resided 20 years. I am his only child. I have resided here and hereabouts 23 years. I am 45 years of age and have a wife and three children, the oldest 11 years. My wife was born and raised at Lexington, Kentucky, and my connection with her has sometimes taken me there, where I have heard the old people of her relatives speak of your uncle Thomas and his family. He is dead long ago and his descendents have gone to some part of Missouri, as I recollect what I was told.
“When I was in Washington in 1848, I got up a correspondence with David Lincoln, residing at Sparta, Rockingham County, Virginia, who like yourself, was a first cousin of my father, but I forget if he informed me which of my grandfather’s brothers was his father. With Colonel Crozier, of whom you speak, I formed quite an intimate acquaintance for a short one and when you meet him again I would thank you to present him my respect.
“Your present governor, Andrew Johnson, was at Washington while I was and he told me of there being people of the name Lincoln in Carter County. I can no longer claim to be a young man myself, but I infer that you are of the same generation of my father. You are some older. I shall be very glad to hear from you again. Very truly, your relative. A. Lincoln.”
This letter by Abraham Lincoln links his name with our own Carter County.
Email Bob Cox at boblcox@
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