Friday, March 8, 2024

The Story of Captain Abraham Lincoln.

The life of American Revolution Captain Abraham Lincoln (1744-1786), the paternal grandfather of the esteemed 16th President, is a tale woven with the threads of both the expansion and the dangers of the American frontier.

Abraham Lincoln was born May 13, 1744, in what today is Berks County, Pennsylvania. Young Abraham was John Lincoln's son, a tanner and farmer. The Lincoln family had made its way to the New World from England a century before, establishing themselves among the industrious settlers shaping the colonies. Though his formal education was limited, Abraham would inherit a strong spirit and a thirst for a better life.

Abraham was the first child born to John and Rebekah Lincoln, who had nine children in all: Abraham, born 1744; twins Hannah and Lydia, born 1748; Isaac, born 1750; Jacob, born 1751; John born 1755; Sarah, born 1757; Thomas born 1761; and Rebekah born 1767.

Abraham married Bathsheba Herring (c1742–1836), a daughter of Alexander Herring (c1708-c1778) and his wife Abigail Harrison (c1710–c1780) of Linville Creek. Bathsheba was reputed to be practical and resilient, and together, they built a family. The assertion that Abraham was first married to Mary Shipley has been refuted.

Abraham's father, John Lincoln, purchased land in the Shenandoah Valley in the colony of Virginia in 1768. He settled his family on a 600-acre tract on Linville Creek in Augusta County (now Rockingham County). John and Rebekah Lincoln divided their tract with their two eldest sons, Abraham and Isaac. Abraham built a house on his land across Linville Creek from his parents' home in 1773.

In the mid-1700s, word spread like wildfire of the fertile lands of Virginia—the Shenandoah Valley beckoned with its promises. The Lincolns, ever seeking opportunity, uprooted their lives and headed south, settling in Rockingham County, Virginia.

But the frontier did not surrender its bounty easily. This new land demanded resourcefulness and a willingness to defend one's claim. Abraham became a captain in the Virginia militia, his life taking on the dual roles of farmer and protector. Amidst the labor of raising crops and children, the specter of conflict with Indian tribes was a constant undercurrent.

Abraham served as the Augusta County militia captain during the American Revolutionary War (1765-83). With the organization of Rockingham County in 1778, he served as a captain for that county. He was in command of sixty of his neighbors, ready to be called out by the governor of Virginia and marched where needed. Captain Lincoln's company served under General Lachlan McIntosh in the fall and winter of 1778, assisting in constructing Fort McIntosh in Pennsylvania and Fort Laurens in Ohio.

In 1780, Abraham Lincoln sold his land on Mill Creek, and in 1781, he moved his family to Kentucky, which was then a district of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The family settled in Jefferson County, about twenty miles east of the site of Louisville. The territory was still contested by Indians living across the Ohio River. For protection, the settlers lived near frontier forts, called stations, to which they retreated when the alarm was given. Abraham Lincoln settled near Hughes' Station (Central Kentucky) on Floyd's Fork and began clearing land, planting corn, and building a cabin. Lincoln owned at least 5,544 acres of land in the richest sections of Kentucky.

One day in May 1786, Abraham Lincoln was working in his field with his three sons when he was shot from the nearby forest and fell to the ground. 

The eldest boy, Mordecai, ran to the cabin where a loaded gun was kept, while the middle son, Josiah, ran to Hughes' Station for help. Thomas, the youngest, stood in shock by his father. From the cabin, Mordecai observed an Indian come out of the forest and stop by his father's body. The Indian reached for Thomas, either to kill him or to carry him off. Mordecai took aim and shot the Indian in the chest, killing him.

Tradition states that Captain Abraham Lincoln was buried next to his cabin, now the Long Run Baptist Church and Cemetery site near Eastwood, Kentucky. A stone memorializing Captain Abraham Lincoln was placed in the cemetery in 1937. A stone honoring Captain Abraham Lincoln was placed in a cemetery near Eastwood, Kentucky, in 1937.

Bathsheba Lincoln was left a widow with five underage children. She moved the family away from the Ohio River to Washington County, where the country was more thickly settled, and there was less danger of an Indian attack. Under the law then operating, Mordecai Lincoln, as the eldest son, inherited two-thirds of his father's estate when he reached the age of twenty-one, with Bathsheba receiving one-third. The other children inherited nothing. Life was hard, particularly for Thomas, the youngest, who got little schooling and was forced to work at a young age.

In later years, Thomas Lincoln recounted the day his father died to his son, Abraham Lincoln, the future sixteenth President of the United States of America. "The story of his death by the Indians," the President later wrote, "and of Uncle Mordecai, then fourteen years old, killing one of the Indians, is the legend more strongly than all others imprinted on my mind and memory."

The story of Captain Abraham Lincoln is one of grit and ambition. It speaks of the tumultuous era when a nation was being forged and the sacrifices made on the altar of expansion. While his life was cut tragically short, he left an indelible mark. His determination and spirit would be echoed in the following generations, shaping the character of one of America's most beloved Presidents.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou for sharing this historical time in our nation’s history. It is so interesting!


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