Friday, January 31, 2014

FACT: Lincoln Has No Contemporary Descendants

If you ever come across a person who's last name is Lincoln, and they try to pass themselves off as a direct descendant of the 16th President, you can confidently school them in the fact that there is no such thing.  Yes, there are cousins many times removed, but none in The President's direct lineage.

Abraham Lincoln’s great-great-great grandfather came to Massachusetts from England in 1637 and went into farming initially, but became a businessman and active member of the church. Over the generations his ancestors moved south, eventually settling themselves in Kentucky. The President's grandfather, for whom Abraham was named, was a captain during the American Revolution but ironically was killed by a Native American while farming with his sons.

President Lincoln’s life was filled with death. His little brother, Thomas Jr., died days after Thomas’s birth in 1812. Lincoln’s mother died in 1818, when Abraham was just nine years old. Then, in 1828, his sister Sarah died in childbirth, along with her stillborn baby. Lincoln also mourned the woman he had intended to marry, Ann Rutledge, when she died in 1835.

After Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd (#2 in the image at right) in 1842, the couple settled down to start their own family. They would have four sons.

The first, Robert (#3), was born in 1843 and would live a long and prestigious life. The second son, Edward, was born in 1846 and died in 1850 of what is believed to be tuberculosis. Another son, William (a favorite of Mary and Abraham Lincoln and nicknamed “Willie”), was born less than a year after Edward’s death and died at age 11 while the Lincolns resided in the White House. Willie’s death was a harsh blow to the family. His body would eventually be exhumed and accompany his father’s to be buried in Springfield, Illinois. The Lincolns’ youngest son, Thomas (also known as “Tad”), was born in 1853. Tad would outlive his father by only six years. He died at the age of 18.

The Lincolns’ only son to marry and have children was Robert. Robert married Mary ("Mamie") Harlan (#4) in 1868 and had three children: Mary (#5), Abraham (#6) and Jessie (#7).  Abraham died of blood poisoning at the age of 16.  Robert’s two daughters each lived well into the 1900s:  Mary Lincoln Isham, had one son, Lincoln Isham (#8), who ultimately did not have children, and Jessie Lincoln Beckwith, had two children: a daughter, Mary (#9) who never wed, and a son, Robert (#10).  Mary Beckwith died in 1975.  

Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith (Robert Lincoln's grandson) married three times but had no children. During the time Robert divorced his second wife, she became pregnant and claimed the child to be his. Due to Robert having had a vasectomy prior to this marriage, he protested the paternity of the child, and the courts ordered a blood test be performed. When the mother failed to comply, the court ruled that the child was not Robert Lincoln’s. In 1985, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, the great grandson of President Abraham Lincoln, died with no heir to carry on the family name. With his death, an American family that had lived and worked in this country for more than nine generations came to an end.

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