The Sad Tale Of The Other Abraham Lincoln

By Gregory Myers on Thursday, October 30, 2014
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“The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds.” —President Abraham Lincoln

In A Nutshell

Everyone has heard of the famous President Abraham Lincoln, but many people don’t realize there was another Abraham Lincoln. The president was actually named for his grandfather, who was a Captain in the American forces during the Revolutionary War. Captain Abraham Lincoln was killed in a raid by Native Americans shortly after bringing his entire family to Kentucky.

The Whole Bushel

Captain Abraham Lincoln was married to Bathsheba Herring and had five children—Mordecai, Josiah, Mary, Thomas, and Nancy. Thomas Lincoln would go on to father the next Abraham Lincoln, who, of course, went on to become president. Very little is known of what the captain did during the Revolutionary War, but it is believed that he played his part for the country and played it well. In many ways, he was not a very striking man. People claimed that he was plain of looks, but he still managed to marry a lovely young woman whose rich father did not approve of the union at all. Many people would call him poor, but he owned hundreds of acres of land throughout his life.

The truth is that Captain Abraham distinguished himself by his deeds. He was not known for speeches or being particularly charismatic, but he was an incredibly well-trusted militia member and spent time as a judge advocate in Virginia. Captain Abraham did not have the legal experience of his future grandson, but he was still given a position simply because of the respect in which he was held and the wisdom others knew he had.

After a time, Captain Abraham took the time to settle down and raise his family on a huge farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Unfortunately, the captain quickly started to get the itch for adventure again. The Lincolns had lived very near the Boone family and had even intermarried. Daniel Boone was famously exploring Kentucky, so Captain Abraham decided to follow his friend’s path and make his new life in the Bluegrass State. He bought a huge new farm and settled in, but things quickly went wrong. At this point in history, the Ohio River Valley and Kentucky itself were viciously contested by both the natives and the European settlers. Before long, the Shawnee had been forced their way across the Ohio River, and both groups were crossing the borders to do each other harm on a regular basis.

Sadly, this soon led to tragedy for the Lincoln family. While outside working on his land, a group of Shawnee raiders killed Captain Abraham. His son Josiah ran to the nearby fort to get help, and Mordecai ran back into the cabin, pushed a gun through the slats, and immediately avenged the death of his father. He also probably saved the life of his little brother, Thomas Lincoln, who was so distraught that he simply sat there weeping at his father’s body. The experience likely affected Thomas Lincoln greatly. Many people had trouble getting along with him in life, and he was never a great father for Abraham. That he named his son after his father shows the great impact of the sudden death. Captain Abraham has been overshadowed by his much more famous grandson, but the hugely popular president would never have existed if not for Captain Abraham.

Show Me The Proof

Abraham Lincoln and His Ancestors, by Ida Minerva Tarbell
Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps, by Ralph Gary
Abraham and Mary Lincoln, by Kenneth J. Winkle