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.
Col. Abraham Stout Drake was born in New Jersey in 1781. His parents were Nathan Drake, a Revolutionary War soldier, and Tamar Jones. Nathan and Tamar moved their family to Fayette County, Kentucky, after the war, where Abraham married Hannah Prall, October 26, 1805. An interesting note about the marriage – Jedidiah Stout is not only the bondsman, but was the guardian of Hannah. Stout is the last name of Abraham’s paternal grandmother! There must be a connection there!
Abraham Drake served as Captain (beginning February 4, 1814) of a company of militia in the War of 1812, which was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel John Francisco, and served until the end of the war.
I believe the children of Abraham Stout Drake and Hannah Prall are David S., Benjamin Prall, Mary A., Elizabeth, William M., Julia Rachel, Simeon N., James F. and Abraham Stout Drake – but I found no census records or will to confirm these names.
David must be a grandson of Abraham and Hannah – and most likely the ‘S’ stand for Stout! Such a short life!
What do you think the first name of Laura’s husband could be? My thoughts are Homer, Roger – any ideas? The rest of the stone is fairly easy to read!
Another stone that is difficult to read! Could this be the wife of Abraham and Hannah’s oldest son? Hopefully you can answer some of the questions we have about the Drake family!
When I first looked at the gravestones for Thaddeus Smith and his wife, Sarah Adelia Miles, at the Lexington Cemetery, Fayette County, Kentucky, I was amazed to find they died at Pelee Island, Canada. That sounded like such a far distance from Woodford County, Kentucky, where they lived until their marriage. Thaddeus was the son of Byrd and Elvira Smith; Sarah Adelia was the daughter of Samuel Issac Miles and Elizabeth W. Hawkins.
They are both listed in the 1850 census of Woodford County. In addition to his parents, Byrd, 63, and Elvira, 41, Thaddeus, 23, William, 21, and Mary M., 4, make up the household. In the Miles household are Samuel, 47, Elizabeth, 50, John E., 28, William, 20, Elizabeth, 22, Sarah, 18, Mary H., 14, and Samuel J., 9. Thaddeus and Adelia married within the year. By 1860 Byrd Smith had died. Elvira is listed as head of household, 51, with son Thaddeus, 33, Sarah A., 25, and grandchildren Lilla, 8, and Bertha, 3, and her youngest daughter, Mary M., 14.
Then the family made an unusual move – to Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada. It is the most southerly community in Canada, 10,000 acres. Over 1/2 of our United States states are north of Pelee Island! Well, I was intrigued! Thank goodness for Google! Pelee Island is located in Lake Erie. If you were to come straight south you would land at Sandusky, Ohio! Can you guess what Thaddeus did for a living on Pelee Island? He was a grape grower! More research turned up that Pelee Island is at the same latitude as the wine growing regions in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal! How fascinating!
In the 1871 Canadian census are Thaddeus, 43, Adelia, 39, Lereta, 14 (could this be Bertha?), and Minnie Rood, 9. In 1881, Thaddeus, 53, Delia, 49, Minnie, 19, Effa Miles, 22, and Thomas Davison, 15. In 1891 only Thaddeus and Adelia are listed, with T. V. Sanford, 53, a bookkeeper, Mary Sanford, 44, and Elvira, 16. This must be Thaddeus’ sister Mary – with a daughter named for their mother.
Sadly Adelia passed away in April of 1895 – according to the information on her gravestone. In the 1901 Canadian census Thaddeus, 73, is living with his widowed daughter, Bertha Wray, 42. He died the next year. I suppose, since there are stones for them in the Lexington Cemetery, that their bodies were brought back to Kentucky for burial. What an interesting story! I think Pelee Island may make a great vacation spot!