Family Stories

Austin Gollaher – Boyhood Friend of Abraham Lincoln

IMG_5262Lincoln’s Playmate – To the west, in Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, is the grave of Austin Gollaher, 1806-98.  Lincoln, while president, once said, “I would rather see (him) than any man living.”  They were schoolmates and playmates when the Lincoln family lived in this area, 1813 to 1816.  Gollaher is credited with rescuing Lincoln from flooded waters of Knob Creek.

Abraham Lincoln lived in the area of Knob Creek, just a few miles north of Hodgenville, Kentucky, while he was aged four to seven.  Austin Gollaher and his family lived close by – close enough that he and the future president went to school together and played together.  There is the claim by Austin Gollaher that he saved his friend from the swollen waters of Knob Creek when they were boys, he being three years older than Abraham Lincoln.  Whether this is true or not, the friendship remained in Lincoln’s memory and he even expressed his desire to see Gollaher, offering to pay for his friend to come to Washington, D.C.  Gollaher declined because of his fear of trains.  How much did Lincoln’s assassination affect his boyhood friend?  Evidently the memory of young playmates lasted a long time for them both.

Benjamin Austin Gollaher was born in 1806 in Georgia.  His parents were Thomas Gollaher and Judith Hines.  May 19, 1828, in Larue County, Kentucky, he married Mary Price, daughter of Thomas Price and Lydia Pearcey.

In the 1850 Census of Larue County Austin and Mary are both listed as 45, with the following children:  John Thomas, 21; E., 18F; M., 16F; C. E., 15F; James, 12; G. B., 7M; and M. S., 1F.  [I’ve only noticed this a couple of times, but why couldn’t they write out the full name!]

In 1860 only three children were living with the couple:  James, 21; G. B., 16M; and Mary, 11.

In 1870 Austin is 65, born in Georgia, his father in Pennsylvania, and his mother in Georgia.  Mary is 65, born in Kentucky, both her parents born in North Carolina.  Daughter Mary M., 24, and her husband Lawson Barnett, 35, are living with her parents – and the following Barnett children:  Mary E., 7; George, 3; James, 2; and Oscar, 1/12.

Many of the Gollaher and related families are buried in Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, from Hodgenville drive north on US31E, then turn on Hwy 84 towards Howardstown.  The cemetery is on 84 on the right.


Austin Gollaher, 1806-1898.  Mary, his wife, 1804-1873.  (Mary Price)


John T. Gollaher, born March 8, 1821, died February 19, 1900.  (Son of Austin and Mary Price Gollaher.)


Mary J., wife of J. T. Gollaher, June 11, 1839 – April 14, 1904.  (Mary Jane Barnett).


Laura Gollaher, born October 26, 1865, married to Jesse Lafollette, March 4, 1888, died July 26, 1910.  (Daughter of John Thomas Gollaher and Mary Jane Barnett; granddaughter of Austin Gollaher and Mary Price.)


Jesse Lafollette, June 16, 1861 – March 24, 1956.


Lawson A. Barnett, January 10, 1835 – October 22, 1907.  Mary M., his wife, December 22, 1840 – July 15, 1907.  (Mary is the daughter of Austin and Mary Gollaher.  Lawson could be a brother to Mary Jane Barnett that married Mary’s brother, John Thomas Gollaher.)


Pleasant Grove Baptist Church

7 replies »

  1. Thank you for posting this! I am a distant cousin of Lincoln, so I love finding new things out about him.

  2. Thank you for posting this wonderful information about my grandfather and family. Austin Gollaher was my great-great-great grandfather. I continue to collect information on him and love to learn about my family.

  3. My Dad is the Great, Great, Great Grandson of Austin. Going today to visit his gravesite to put flowers on his grave with also my Grandparent that are buried there.

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