Short, sweet and simple – my children and grandchildren are here for the weekend!
Friday, February 21, 1930
Half-Sister of Abraham Lincoln’s wife dies in Fayette County
Lexington, Ky., Feb. 20 – Mrs. Emilie Todd Helm, 93 years old, half-sister of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and the last surviving person intimately associated with the murdered president, died at 2 o’clock this morning at her home, Helm Place, on the Bowman’s Mill Pike.
Mrs. Helm was the widow of General Hardin Helm and the daughter of Robert Smith Todd and Elizabeth Humphreys Todd. She was born at the Todd residence on West Main Street, here, which is pointed out as the birthplace of Mary Todd Lincoln. She was known as the ‘Mother of the Orphan Brigade.’
Mrs. Helm’s husband, at the outbreak of the War Between the States, was called to Washington by President Lincoln and offered a commis-
sion in the Union Army, but declined, and returned to the South, where he accepted a commission in the Confederate Army in the brigade formed by Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, an old friend of his father. He rose rapidly in rank until he became a brigadier general. He was killed September 20, 1863, at the Battle of Chickamauga.
Following the death of General Helm, President Lincoln sent for the widow and invited her to the White House, where she spent several weeks. As a girl, she had visited the Lincolns when they lived at Springfield, Illinois.
For almost twenty years Mrs. Helm had lived at Helm Place, the colonial residence built by Col. Abraham Bowman, Revolutionary War officer, with her children, Ben Hardin Helm, Miss Katherine Helm and Mrs. Elodie Lewis. Miss Helm is an artist and the author of ‘Mary, Wife of Lincoln.’
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 o’clock Saturday morning at the residence, the Rt. Rev. H. P. Abbott, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, officiating. Burial will be in the Lexington Cemetery.
Saturday, February 22, 1930
It was a happy turn of fate that Mrs. Ben Hardin Helm, Mary Todd Lincoln’s half-sister, should have been spared these many years and that she was able, both verbally and by her diary and correspondence, to correct many false impressions of circumstances surrounding the lives of Abraham Lincoln and his wife in a day when public interest in them runs high. Many books have been written about the Lincolns, husband and wife, in these last ten years, and not the least of them was that of Katherine Helm of Lexington, based largely on her mother’s recollections, letters and writings.
Mrs. Helm’s death, at the age of 93, removes a woman who was well beloved by the ‘boys’ in gray, at many of whose reunions she had been an honored guest. She was an impressive figure at that time when, after General Helm was killed at Chickamauga and she was granted a pass through the lines from Atlanta. Union officers at Fortress Monroe sought to force her to take the oath of allegiance. Tearfully, yet firmly, the young widow refused. The authorities communicated with Lincoln, who had granted the pass. ‘Send her to me,’ wired the President, and Mrs. Helm went to the White House, to be reunited with her sister.
‘I had just lost my husband,’ she wrote in her diary, ‘Mary had lost her son, Willie, and we both had lost three fine, young brothers in the ranks of the Confederate Army.’
Lincoln was very fond of ‘Little Sister,’ as he had called Emilie Helm ever since that day in 1847 when, returning from Congress, he visited the Todd home at Lexington and gave her that pet name as he caught her up and held her at a terrifying height from the floor. Mary Todd was very fond of this child, and because of her confidences, the younger sister was able in later years to refute the cruel story first told by William Herndon that Lincoln had failed to appear at his own wedding, supposedly planned for January 1, 1841.
It was in April, 1861, that Lincoln offered Ben Hardin Helm, then 30 years old and ten years out of West Point, a paymaster’s commission in the Union Army, with the rank of major. That same day in Washington Ben Helm talked to Robert E. Lee and learned he had resigned his commission. Helm’s father, Gov. John L. Helm, was a slave owner, but a Union man. Mary wanted her beautiful sister to live in the White House with her. The place offered was much coveted and Helm realized his opportunity might readily lead to advancement. He thanked Lincoln and asked for time. Returning to Kentucky he was convinced by Simon Bolivar Buckner that he should cast his lot with the Confederacy, and so he wrote the President, after ‘a bitter struggle with myself.’ Two years later Lincoln broke the sad news of Ben Helm’s death to his wife, then in New York, and Senator David Davis described the President as much moved by the tragedy. ‘Davis,’ he said, ‘I fell as David of old did when he was told of the death of Absolom.’ Lincoln’s affection was even deeper for ‘Little Sister,’ even though while at the White House and until the surrender she remained a ‘loyal little rebel’ to the last.
General Ben Hardin Helm and Emilie Todd had three children, Katherine, who remained single; Elodie, who married Waller H. Lewis; and Ben Hardin Helm. All are buried in the Todd lot in Lexington Cemetery.
Major Daniel Branch Price was the son of John Price and Frances Branch, born May 1, 1789, in Powhatan County, Virginia. His father came to Kentucky in the early years of the state, bringing his family with him. At an early age Daniel Price was appointed deputy clerk for Samuel H. Woodson, Jessamine County Clerk. Woodson resigned in 1816, and Daniel Price held the office until 1851 – a record of 35 years!
In 1813, Daniel Price married Eliza Crockett, a daughter of Col. Joseph Crockett. Eliza died in the 1832 cholera epidemic. Daniel married Mary Jane Stuart, daughter of Rev. Robert Stuart and Hannah Todd, in 1836. He had several children from both marriages. One son, by this first wife, Eliza, was Samuel Woodson Price (1828-1918). Samuel was a Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General, a commander of the 27th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. In the 1850 census of Jessamine County is listed as 22, an artist. After the war, he became noted as a painter of portraits.
In the 1860 census of Jessamine County, Daniel B. Price is listed as 71, a farmer, born in Virginia. His wife, Mary J., is 56. They have the following children living with them: Daniel B., 21; Eliza V., 19; Robert S., 17; and Margaret, 14.
Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge said of him, ‘Probably no citizen of Jessamine County was ever more favorably known, and certainly no one was ever more thoroughly respected.’ Daniel Price died October 20, 1860, and is buried in the Lexington Cemetery, in Fayette County.
Today I would like to share with you a few photos taken at the Lexington Cemetery in Fayette County, Kentucky. These are members of the Todd family, beginning with David Todd and wife, Hannah Owen.
David Todd was born in Ireland in 1723. He served as a private in the Pennsylvania State troops, 6th and 9th battalions, 4th and 5th Lancaster County PA militia, 1775-1780. He died in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky.
David Todd married Hannah Owen in 1749. She was born in 1729 and died in Lexington in 1805.
General Levi Todd was the son of David Todd and Hannah Owen. He first married Jane Briggs, in 1779. After her death, in 1800, he married Jane Holmes.
Levi Todd was a defender of the fort at Harrodsburg; was in the battle of Blue Licks and aide to General George Rogers Clark. He was born in Montgomery County, PA; died in Lexington, Kentucky.
James Clarke Todd was the son of Levi Todd and Jane Holmes. He married Maria Blair August 6, 1829. Before her death in 1834 they had two sons – Lyman Beecher Todd and Levi Holmes Todd (1834-1834).
Lyman Beecher Todd was evidently a beloved human being. When he died in 1902, The Kentucky Advocate, from Danville, Boyle County, gave the following information:
Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd, aged 70, senior physician of Lexington, died Tuesday night. He was a first cousin of President Lincoln’s wife and was present both when Lincoln was short and at his deathbed. He was a member of the Filson Club, of Louisville, and had in articles made valuable contributions to Kentucky history. He was the former postmaster of this city.
Yesterday was beautiful in Kentucky – so we decided to make the most of it! After a quick lunch at DQ – Dairy Queen – Julian’s favorite place for fries – we headed for the 734 acre Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. It is a terrific hiking place – Ritchey and Linton have been there several times. But recent information that came to light makes it much more interesting than just a place for a good hike!
Baruch William Prather, a Sergeant in the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War, once owned this property. He and his wife, Sarah Higgins, married in Frederick County, Maryland, November 16, 1775. About 25 years later they moved to Fayette County, Kentucky, purchasing 166 acres of Henry Bell’s 3,000 acre military warrant, in 1804 – which is now part of Raven Run! The family homestead is still standing – you can tell it has been lived in not too long ago due to the electric line running to it and the storm door on front! It must have been well built.
At the back of the house is the family cemetery, surrounded by a low rock wall. Many stones are still standing, but many are difficult to impossible to read. According to Find A Grave there are 36 people buried in this cemetery. Baruch Prather’s stone has a military marker installed on it by the DAR, and an additional, readable stone, at the back. Sarah’s stone is beside Baruch’s, and is still readable.
Baruch Prather was born at Orphans Gift, October 20, 1742, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, the son of Aaron Allen Prather, Sr., and Mary Jane Cousin. He died on his plantation near Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, on December 2, 1810, and was buried in the cemetery at the back of his house.
Sarah Jane Higgins, the daughter of James William Higgins and Luraner Becraft, was born in Frederick County, Maryland, August 29, 1761, and died January 20, 1844, on the Prather farm in Fayette County, Kentucky.
Baruch and Sarah had at least nine children: Thomas W., Deborah Oliver, Martha Sprigg, Ann Nancy, Mary, Rebecca, Benjamin Higgins, Walter D., and Luraner.
But the most important discovery is that this is Ritchey’s fifth great-grandfather! And Julian’s seventh great-grandfather! They are now eligible to become members of the Sons of the American Revolution! I was so excited to get a photo of the two of them with Baruch Prather’s gravestone. This is part of Ritchey’s Jolly line – that we would never have discovered without his DNA test.
Julian, of course, didn’t really take it all in – he was much more interested in running, birds and butterflies, the trees and grass and the tall house – not walking in the footsteps of his ancestors. But one day he will realize the importance of this day and be glad we came!
Another courthouse we visited on Wednesday was Jessamine County. Jessamine was formed from part of Fayette County in 1798. Most of our Kentucky counties are named for a historical person, but Jessamine is named for a flower and Jessamine Creek.
Know all men by these presents that we, Francis Kirby and James Kirby, are held and firmly bound unto his Excellency, James Garrard, Esq., Governor of Kentucky, in the sum of fifty pounds current money of Kentucky, which payment well and truly to be made to the said governor, or his successors, we bind ourselves, our heirs, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated this 24th day of September 1799.
The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas there is a marriage shortly intended to be solemnized between the above bound Francis Kirby and Polly Butler, for which a license has issued, now if there be no lawful cause to obstruct said marriage then the above obligation to be void or else to remain in full force and virtue.
Francis Kirby, James Kirby
Teste, L. H. Morrison, Clerk
To Clerk of Jessamine County
I take this opportunity of transmitting to your office the several marriages which I have celebrated, agreeable to you, signed within twelve months last past. Francis Kirby and Polly Butler the 27th day of October, 1799. William Phillips and Elizabeth Moss the 28th day of June 1800. William Lipsay and Margaret Fulkerson the 18th day of September 1800. Lastly, Woodford Curd and Jenny West October 14th 1800. I am with due respect yours, John Metcalf
October 16, 1800
John and Fielding Bradford printed the first issue of The Kentucky Gazette in August of 1787. The following are a few highlights from some of those early editions, taken from The Kentucky Gazette 1787-1800 by Karen Mauer Green, 1983. It is interesting to note how much is going on in the city of Lexington, and surrounding area, at such an early date! I’m sure there are a few names that everyone will recognize!
Volume I, Number II, 18 August, 1787
- Lexington: Printed and sold by John and Fielding Bradford, at their printing office the corner of Main and Cross Street, where subscriptions at 18 shillings per annum, advertisements, etc., for this paper are thankfully received and printing in its different branches done with care and expedition. Advertisements of a moderate length are inserted for 3 shillings the first time and 2 shillings each time after, and longer ones in proportion.
- Levi Todd, Lexington, 16 August 1787, regarding express from
Col. James Robinson, commanding officer of the settlement on the Cumberland River, mentions Mr. Turnbull, Captain Davenport.
Volume I, Number III, 25 August 1787
- Jacob Myers, Lincoln County, 15 August 1787, is erecting a paper mill on a branch of the Dicks River near his grist mill.
- Text of speech of Captain Johnny (chief commander of the Shawnee nation) to Col. Logan at Limstone, Monday the 20th of August 1787. Including Col. Benjamin Logan’s answer. Mentions Jacob Boone at Limestone. Including Col. Benjamin Logan, Isaac Ruddell, John Crow, Daniel Boone, Captain Johnny, Maremsecho, Lathenfecoh.
Volume I, Number V, 8 September 1787
- Mr. Schooler of Harrison’s Station on Licking Creek was fired on by Indians on the 5th of September. George Mason and Mr. Glasscock were fired on by the Indians while cutting wood on Licking Creek on 7 September. Mason was fatally wounded.
- Thomas January, Lexington, regarding goods for sale at his dry goods store.
- Thomas Marshall, Fayette County, 5 September 1787, notice regarding surveyor’s fees.
- Adam Rankin, Fayette County, 6 September 1787, ad for stray horse.
- John Allison, Fayette County, 30 August 1787, ‘lately of Ireland’, notice that he is carrying on the business of spinning wheel making at the house of John Maxwell near Lexington.
Volume I, Number VI, 15 September 1787
- John Crittenden and Horatio Turpin, Fayette County, 12 September 1787, agents for Col. John Harris, regarding Harris’ land, mentions Bray’s Tavern in Lexington.
- Joseph Gale, regarding a sale of the property of Robert Collins to satisfy his debt to Meredith Helm. Sale to be at Capt. James Bray’s in Lexington.
- Mr. Stout, whose brother was wounded by the Indians some time ago, was killed by the Indians at Lee’s Station near Limestone last Tuesday or Wednesday.
Volume I, Number VII, 22 September 1787
- George Tegarden, ad regarding his store at the house of John Clark in Lexington.
- Henry Marshall and Henry Work, 20 September 1787, notice to debtors: please pay your bills.
Volume I, Number VIII, 29 September 1787
- John Calaman, 26 September 1787, living near Strode’s Station, regarding a stray filly.
Volume I, Number IX, 6 October 1787
- Obituary, Mrs. Elizabeth Downing, wife of John Downing of Louisville, died Thursday, 9 August 1787, 25 years old, buried Friday, 17 August 1787, in the burying ground of her father, Col. Armisted Churchill.
- Henry Lee, Fayette County, 3 October 1787, notice regarding horse that strayed from Rawleigh Chinn’s near Lexington.
- George Rogers Clark and John Crittenden, Fayette County, 25 September 1787, regarding land for sale.
- Ann Shiell, Lincoln County, 15 September 1787, executrix of the estate of Dr. Hugh Shiell, regarding settlement of estate.
- Joseph Robinson, Bourbon County, 26 September 1787, has erected a tan yard near Mr. Isaac Ruddell’s mill.