History: Capt. Abraham Lincoln came to Kentucky in 1780 and settled in Casey County

November 24, 2008|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

President Abraham Lincoln's ancestors came to America in 1637 from England and settled in New Hingham, Mass. The family later moved to Virginia, and into the wilderness west of the Allegheny Mountains to what would become Kentucky. Part of the family kept moving.

The president's family moved on to Indiana. Abraham later went to Illinois and lived in Springfield at the time he was elected president.

President Lincoln's grandfather, Capt. Abraham Lincoln, was the first of the family to arrive in the wilderness of Kentucky in the 1780s. He was the first son, born May 13, 1744, to John and Rebecca Flowers Morris Lincoln in Berks County, Pa. As a young man, he and his parents and family moved to Virginia where he served as captain of the Virginia Militia prior to and during the American Revolution.

He married Bathsheba Herring and they lived about 12 years on a 200-acre farm he purchased from his father in the Shenandoah Valley. The land adjoined tracts owned by his brothers, Isaac and Jacob. Capt. Lincoln owned the 250-acre home tract and later bought another 200-tract on Linville Creek.


Capt. Lincoln apparently was a well-to-do landowner and a man of prominence in the military. He was a member of Linville Creek Baptist Church. During that time, President Lincoln's father, Thomas, was born.

But the captain was not content to stay put. He and his wife sold their 250-acre farm for 5,000 pounds in Virginia currency. He used part of the money to buy land in what was then Kentucky County in Virginia.

He reportedly came to the land in 1780 after the birth of his daughter, Nancy, on March 25. Two land grants were recorded in Jefferson County later that year showing he bought 400 acres on Floyd's Fork and another 800 acres six miles below Green River Lick that included an improvement made by Jacob Gum and Owen Diver.

When President Lincoln's grandparents came to the wilderness west of the Appalachians in the 1780s, Indians were hunting game in an area that later became Kentucky.

Packed up family

After Capt. Lincoln and his wife, Bathsheba, sold their land in Virginia, they packed up their belongings and five children, Mordecai, 11; Josiah, 9; Mary, 6; Thomas, 4, and Nancy, 2, and came to what is now Middleburg in Casey County. They settled on an 800-acre tract on Green River.

Land grant records indicate the land was located near Green River about six miles below Green River Lick, two miles southeast of McKinney in Lincoln County.

The Lincoln family apparently lived there about 2 1/2 years in a cabin that had been built on the property three years earlier, then decided to move on.

During an official survey of the property, Abraham and his cousin, Hannaniah Lincoln, acted as chain carriers. Lincoln transferred the title of the tract to Christopher Riffe. Abraham signed the survey, which indicates he knew how to transact business in a proper legal manner. However, the formal deed was not made until Dec. 24, 1803, when Lincoln's son, Mordecai, heir-at-law of Capt. Abraham Lincoln, then deceased, deeded the property to Riffe for 400 pounds.

After Capt. Lincoln sold the land, the family moved in about 1784 to a 400-acre tract at Long Run in Jefferson County, near the Shelby County line, where they expected to make their permanent home. Again, Abraham and Hannaniah Lincoln assisted as chainmen and Josiah Lincoln as marker in making the official survey of the Long Run grant, which was in Abraham Lincoln's name for about five years.

They lived near Morgan Hughes Station, where the Lincolns located until they built their new log cabin.

While Captain Lincoln and his three sons were working in their clearing in May 1786, the captain was slain by an Indian, who apparently was hiding nearby.

Mordecai Lincoln was 15 years old at the time, and apparently took as head of the house after his father's death. In 1792, his name appeared on tax books in Washington County, probably where the family moved after leaving Jefferson County. He also was charged with taxes on land that his father had owned in Jefferson, Hardin and Lincoln counties.

Thomas Lincoln and his family stayed in Hodgenville where the 16th president was born Feb. 12, 1809. Thomas' family moved about 10 miles east to the farm and stayed about five years before heading in 1816 for Spencer County, Ind.

The home place was sold several times and was in the Howard family for several years. It sold in 1986 for $120,500.

The property currently is known as the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, which focuses on his life in Kentucky.

(Information in this article was taken from "Abraham Lincoln: The Unforgettable American" by Mable Kunkel, "Casey County, Kentucky 1806-1983," a folk history of the county, by Gladys C. Thomas; and the National Park Service Web site.)

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