Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lincoln Homstead in Virginia

But I thought Lincoln was born in a log cabin house in Kentucky? That was my thought process when I first heard about the Lincoln Homestead and its location in the Rockingham County. So does our 16th President have any true ties to Virginia?

According to the March 24, 1887 newspaper Rockingham Register, he does. The paper ran a front page article entitled: “Lincoln’s Ancestors in Virginia.” The article is John T. Harris Jr.’s argument that the Lincolns, according to deeds in the courthouse that “survived the Federal army during the civil war”, did not leave Virginia until 1781. The article was written in response to the newspaper Century’s article by “Nicolay and Hay” that stated the Lincolns left in 1780.[1] Quite a convincing article.

Following the article are two reproductions of letters from President Abraham Lincoln to his Virginia relative David Lincoln, son of Jacob Lincoln who was the brother of President Lincoln’s grandfather and had remained in Virginia. At the time of publication, the letters belonged to Abraham Lincoln, son of said David Lincoln and a “much respected citizen of Rockingham County, Virginia.”[2] The first letter, dated March 24, 1848, is a query from President Lincoln to David: “…as my father was born in Rockingham, from whence his father, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated to Kentucky about the year 1782, I have concluded to address you to ascertain whether we are not of the same family.”[3] He asks several more questions about their family.

The second letter, also from President Lincoln, is dated April 2, 1848 and thanks David for his letter of March 30th. Lincoln writes: “There is no longer any doubt that your uncle Abraham and my grandfather was the same man.” [4] A lengthy letter follows describing his family and asking more questions about David’s family. Lincoln states that he would be “much pleased to hear from you again” and promises to “call on you” if he’s ever in the area. [5]

 The mission of the Lincoln Society is to promote research about Lincoln while also providing a “mature” interpretation of him. They serve to protect and preserve Lincoln landmarks in the Shenandoah Valley which includes the “Lincoln homes and cemetery.” They are interested in supporting research in all areas of Abraham Lincoln, including his family, with a focus on Virginia. The Lincoln Society of Virginia provided this information to the Virginia tourism site:

President Abraham Lincoln's great-grandparents, "Virginia John" and Rebecca Flowers Lincoln moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia in 1768 and built their home on their 600-acre tract along Linville Creek. The President's father, Thomas, was born on this property in 1778 before his family moved to Kentucky. [6]

The Lincoln Society is the previous owner of the Lincoln Homestead, but now it is in private hands. Randy Shank is the new owner and was unavailable for a comment. A representative from the Lincoln Society said they sold the property because their planned renovation turned out to be too expensive. The entire foundation and structure of the house is unsound and not even the Lincoln Society was able to take pictures of the inside of the house. As of right now, no renovation is planned because of the cost and visitors are not allowed to enter the house. They are allowed to photograph the outside of the house and see the family cemetery.

Phillip C. Stone, attorney and former Bridgewater College President, will be at the Massanutten Regional Library on June 24 at 1pm to tell us more about the Lincoln Homestead and the Lincoln family’s ties to the Shenandoah Valley. He is the founder of the Lincoln Society and hosts a ceremony annually at the Lincoln Cemetery to celebrate Lincoln’s birth. A copy of the aforementioned article will also be available for perusal.

1 A printed copy of this full article is available at the Massanutten Regional Library in the Vault Pamphlet File.

2 Ibid

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 The Virginia is for Lovers Tourism site. The Lincoln Society has a more complete listing of family members at:

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