Tag Archives: Thomas Lincoln

Jesse Head – Cabinet Maker, Justice of the Peace, Methodist Minister Who Performed Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Marriage

Jesse Head was born in Frederick County, Maryland, January 28, 1768, the son of William and Mary Walker Head.  He married Jane Ramsey January 9, 1789.  Jane was the daughter of Robert and Susannah McDonnell Ramsey, born April 10, 1768, in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  Jesse and Jane moved their family to Washington County, Kentucky, about 1797.

Jesse Head

We have stated on several occasions, that Jesse Head, the man who married Lincoln’s parents at Francis Berry’s house in Washington County on June 12, 1806, quit Springfield for Harrodsburg in the year 1810.  The following advertisement which appeared in The Argus of Western America, Frankfort, Kentucky, Friday, December 14, 1810, confirms our conclusion as to the removal date.  It reads:  ‘CABINET WORK:  The subscribers are about to settle themselves in the town of Harrodsburg where they intend to carry on the above business in its various branches.  They have imported some elegant mahogany, and intend keeping some plank of the first quality, and hope by their attention to business, to please all those who may favor them with their custom.  They will take any kind of produce.  December 13, 1810.  Jesse Head & Son.’

Jesse Head appears in Washington County records in 1797.  It does not appear from the old tax books that he owned real estate at that time, but he seems to have been a resident of the town of Springfield where he engaged in the business of cabinet making.  On December 5, 1797, David Rodman, a minor, was bound to him ‘to learn the art of cabinet maker.’

On February 6, 1798, Jesse Head’s name comes into the records of the county to remain there until a short time before he quit Springfield to go to Harrodsburg in 1810.  On the aforementioned day in 1798, he was sworn a Justice of the Peace and by virtue of that office was a member of the County Court.  This office he held as late as the year 1808.

At the election of trustees for the town of Springfield in January 1810, Jesse Head was re-elected a member of the board for the ensuing year.  He had served for nearly ten years in the capacity of trustee.  After being re-elected in January he determined to leave Springfield where he had successfully engaged in the business of cabinet making and set up in a similar business in Harrodsburg.  He sold his properties in Springfield and was gone from the town before the close of the year, so that when the inhabitants thereof gathered for the annual election in 1811 his name was not proposed for reelection.

For approximately 12 years Jesse Head was a dominating figure in the religious, political and business life of Washington County.  In the field of religion, he was the leading spirit in the establishing of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington and adjoining counties.  In politics he was the outstanding member of the County Court and of the board of trustees of Springfield during his sojourn here.  This statement is not altered or qualified by the fact that Felix Grundy, later to become one of the foremost lawyers and statesmen of the State of Tennessee, was here at the same time and serving with Head as a member of the board of trustees.  As a cabinet maker he had few equals, and many were the early homes of Washington County that contained ‘better furniture’ made by the hands of Jesse Head and his son in their shop in Springfield.  If unbroken pedigrees were at hand it might be shown that some of the antique pieces that grace the homes of Springfield and Washington County today had their beginnings in Jesse Head’s shop.

Lincoln Marriage Temple, houses the log cabin in which Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks were married June 1806, in Washington County, Kentucky.  Located in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, at Fort Harrod.

Historians have tried to assign some good reason for the selection of Jesse Head as the officiating minister at the wedding of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks on June 12, 1806.  Such a task should not be difficult.  To us there is but one explanation.

We have not the least doubt but that Jesse Head and Thomas Lincoln formed an acquaintanceship some years previous to the marriage date.  Both men were cabinet makers – Lincoln more of carpenter than cabinet maker, perhaps, but even so, as good as the average in the work in which Jesse Head excelled.  Undoubtedly Thomas Lincoln was often in the shop of Jesse Head and perhaps the two men worked together on numerous occasions.

Thrown together in their work as carpenters and cabinet makers, Lincoln and Head must have become fast friends.  Jesse Head, many years Thomas Lincoln’s senior, old enough to be the young and struggling carpenter’s father, probably spoke of many things, the more important things of life, when the two worked together or when Thomas sat in Head’s shop passing away the time when he happened to be in Springfield.

The Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Daviess County, Kentucky.  Sunday, May 21, 1922.

Jesse Head was a devout man.  He loved his God and his church.  He was a zealous exponent of the faith and Methodism but tolerant of others and their religious beliefs, and men loved him for his works sake.  He was in influence for inestimable good on the lives of all with whom he associated.  In this respect his association with Thomas Lincoln was not an exception.  If there was one person whose association with Thomas Lincoln made that young man the honest, sober and straightforward fellow that he was, that person was Jesse Head.

Viewing the matter in the light of the foregoing explanation, one does not ask why Thomas Lincoln sought Jesse Head in preference to any other, when he came to marry Nancy Hanks on that memorable day in June 1806.

From  Kentucky, Pioneer History of Washington County,compiled from newspaper articles by Orval W. Baylor and others.

Rev. Jesse Head, January 28, 1768 – March 22, 1842.  Preacher – Editor – Patriot.  He married June 12, 1806, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, parents of Abraham Lincoln.  Jane Ramsey Head, April 10, 1768 – August 30, 1851.  Married Jesse Head January 9, 1789, and nobly shared with him the privations and triumphs of the life of a pioneer preacher.  Spring Hill Cemetery, Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky.

Fort Harrod and Its Pioneer Graveyard

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Reproduction of Fort Harrod

I feel very fortunate to live in a small Kentucky town known as the “Birthplace of the West”.  Harrodsburg was the only colonial city, and first permanent settlement, west of the Allegheny and Appalachian Mountains.  Broadway Street has the distinction of being the oldest street west of those mountains.  It was settled in 1774 by James Harrod of Pennsylvania.  The fort was originally to be built much closer to what is now the small town of Burgin, but the huge number of bison that consistently ran through that area, made it impossible.

Harrodsburg was first the county seat of Fincastle County, Virginia, then Kentucky County, Virginia.  When Kentucky County was divided in three counties, Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln, Harrodsburg continued to the be county seat of Lincoln.  In 1785 Mercer County was formed and retained Harrodsburg as the county seat.  Stanford became the new county seat for Lincoln.

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Osage Orange Tree

Fort Harrod is now a reproduction that draws many visitors each year.  It has been a popular field trip for students from the far reaches of the state – and out of state – and even our own children make their way there at least once during their years of education.  And most take their pictures lined on the huge, sprawling limbs of the Osage Orange Tree.

My mother was a reenactor one year at the fort, sitting in one of the cabins weaving baskets, in her colonial costume, and sometimes making lye soap over an open fire!  She could certainly tell some stories!  In fact, the gift shop sold out of lye soap the days mom was there!

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Pioneer Graveyard at Fort Harrod

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The McAfee Memorial Stile, honoring The McAfee Pioneers, James McAfee, Jr., 1736-1811; George McAfee, 1740-1803; Robert McAfee, 1745-1795; Samuel McAfee, 1748-1801; William McAfee, 1750-1780, sons of James McAfee, Sr., and Jane McMichael McAfee.  The McAfee brothers came to Kentucky in 1773 and were the original founders of the Salt River settlement.  Several of the brothers were with George Rogers Clark on memorable expeditions.  They were in the vanguard of those civilizing agencies, which were to redeem the wilderness and make it a fruitful field and the home of a Christian people.  They brought with them not only the axe, the hunting knife and the rifle, but the implements of peaceful and beneficent industry and above the bible respect for law and order and reverence for the Sabbath Day.  They established a community in 1779 where the town of McAfee stands.  A posterity rises up and calls them blessed.  June 16, 1929.

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Pioneer Graveyard – This graveyard was just south of Fort Harrod.  The original fort was located on the hill where our present day parking lot is.  Over 480 grave stones still remain in this pioneer graveyard.

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This historic cemetery was used from 1775 when the fort was built, until about 1833.  Most of the graves up to 1800 are only marked by rough unlettered stones.  The different grave markings clearly define the progress of civilization at the date of burial, and the materials to be had at the time.

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Ann McGinty

Noted pioneer woman Ann McGinty lies buried here.  She brought the first spinning wheel to Kentucky.  She died in 1815.  A Revolutionary Patriot symbol was placed on here stone by the Ann Poage Chapter of the D. A. R.

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This is said to be the grave of Thomas Jefferson Head, a son of Jesse Head, the pioneer preacher who united the parents of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, in 1806.  Thomas Jefferson Head died in 1823.

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An Unknown Grave

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Jane, born August 14, 1810

James Harrod, who lead the first pioneers to Harrodsburg, is not buried in this cemetery.  He failed to return from one of his frequent hunting expeditions and his fate was never known.

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Thank you for visiting Harrodsburg with me today!  Hopefully one day you can see it in person!

 

 

 

The Kyle Family of Washington County

from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky by O. W. Baylor

The Kyle Family

The early records of Washington County are pregnant with entries relating to this family.  They concern, chiefly, the Rev. Thomas Kyle.

Rev. Thomas Kyle, a native of Pennsylvania, was born in 1757.  He was a soldier in the Revolution and it is said that he once sat with George Washington in the Masonic lodge.  As a soldier he was wounded by a sabre in the hands of a British officer and he carried a scar on his head as a token of the war in which he had participated.

After studying medicine with Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, Thomas Kyle emigrated to Kentucky and settled in Washington County in 1790, and here he commingled the practice of medicine with preaching, for he was a minister of the Methodist Church as well as a physician.

We surmise that in Pennsylvania the Rev. Kyle and the Rev. Jesse Head were associated.  Kyle came to Washington County in 1790, and it may have been through his acquaintanceship with Head in their native state that the man who was later to marry Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, was influenced by his friend already in Washington County, Kentucky, to come on about the year 1793.  Both men were Methodists and both were active as pioneer preachers of that faith in Kentucky.

After a sojourn of 8 years in Washington County, Thomas Kyle moved to Mercer County where he died June 26, 1846.  His children were John, Andrew G., Matthew, Jane and Rebecca.  Andrew G. was born in Washington County in 1796 and at the age of two years removed with his parents to the County of Mercer.  He married Jane, daughter of John Glover, of Mercer County, and had two sons, Thomas A. and John G.  The latter became a prominent lawyer and was an ardent supporter of General Grant in the Presidential races of 1868 and 1872.

Proof of Abraham Lincoln’s Birth in Washington County, Kentucky

Today is the 204th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.  Following is the account of the marriage of his parents – Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks – that occurred in Washington County on June 12, 1806 – and the possibility that our famous president was born in Washington County rather than Hardin County!  What do you think?

from The News-Leader, Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky

February 11, 1909

Washington County’s Part – In the History of Abraham Lincoln’s Ancestry.  Proof of His Birth in This County

It was the good fortune of the writer to know intimately two venerable women of Washington County, who have passed away within the last two years, who, by reason of relationship to Nancy Hanks Lincoln, gave the writer much information concerning the ancestry of the mother of Abraham Lincoln.  These women were Mrs. Mary Thompson, whose husband, Mr. Robert Mitchell Thompson, was a lineal descendant of Nancy Hanks.  The other, Mrs. Nancy Mitchell Walker, who bore the same relationship to Nancy Hanks, the mother of Mr. Thompson and the father of Mrs. Walker being first cousins to Nancy Hanks.

Written documents and family records in possession of these families were thoroughly gone over by the writer with Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Walker and other members of the two families, and a careful study of records aided the writer materially in collecting the following facts here given the readers of The News-Leader.

From Virginia to Kentucky

In the year 1788 in old Virginia, a company of pioneers was formed to follow the trail of Daniel Boone into the new country northward beyond the Cumberland Mountains.  The families composing  that company were Robert Mitchell’s family, consisting of the father, mother and two children, John and Sarah, and a Shipley and Browning families, eleven members in the party in all.

In the same year, Joseph Hanks, whose wife Naomi Shipley Hanks, who was a sister of Mrs. Mitchell, with their eight children, came from Virginia to Kentucky.

Richard Berry and wife, Sarah Shipley, a sister of Mrs. Mitchell and Mrs. Hanks found a home in Washington County.

Nancy Hanks parents, Joseph Hanks and wife Naomi (Shipley) Hanks and eight children settled in Hardin county near Elizabethtown, where the husband and father four years later died.  The mother survived the father less than a year.  Nancy, being the youngest, then about nine years old, came to live with her aunt, Sarah (Shipley) Berry in Washington County.

This hospitable pioneer home of the Berry’s also sheltered Sarah Mitchell, whose mother, Judy (Shipley) Mitchell was killed at Crab Orchard by the Indians when the party of Virginia immigrants stopped to rest their horses, cattle and other animals they were bringing from their old home.  Little Sarah was taken captive by the Indians, and her brother, John, escaped by hiding and three years later went to Canada and bought Sarah’s freedom from the man to whom the Indians had sold her.

These two girls, Nancy Hanks and Sarah Mitchell, lived with their aunt, Mrs. Berry until their marriages: Nancy to Thomas Lincoln and Sarah Mitchell to John Thompson.

The Lincoln Family In Washington County

Abraham Lincoln, Sr., who owned a large tract of land in Jefferson County was shot one day while out in a clearing near his home.  The oldest son, Mordecai, inherited the large estate, according to the law of primogeniture, which still obtained at that time.  The widow came to Washington County with her sons, Josiah and Thomas, and the youngest son, Thomas, worked at the carpenter’s trade with Mr. Richard Berry who is represented to have been a good worker and carpenter, and it was while Thomas Lincoln was working at the carpenter’s trade that he learned to love Nancy Hanks, the niece of Mrs. Berry.  The marriage of Thomas and Nancy Hanks was solemnized at the Berry house June 12, 1806.

Proof of Marriage

The marriage bond, signed by Thomas Lincoln, with Richard Berry, surety, and also the minister’s return are of record in Washington County clerk’s office where it remained for years in oblivion, while political enemies cast aspersion upon the legitimacy of Lincoln, and his biographers had to admit their inability to obtain any information concerning Lincoln’s parents marriage.  Lincoln never knew that the proof of his parents’ marriage existed, and by the merest chance was the proof found.

A cousin of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Mr. Robert Mitchell Thompson, while on a visit to Larue County, was repeatedly told that Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks were never married, and that Abraham Lincoln was an illegitimate child.  Being the kinsman of Nancy Hanks, Mr. Thompson was naturally indignant that such a report should be accepted as true.  He had heard of the marriage of Nancy Hanks to Thomas Lincoln at the home of Richard Berry and had heard of it from persons who were guests at the wedding and believed the records of the marriage could be found in the county.

Returning home, Mr. Thompson related the story he had heard in Larue County to Mr. W. F. Booker, county clerk, and stated that he remembered the year to have been 1806 when the marriage occurred.  As no index of records was kept at that early period the task seemed almost a hopeless one.  Mr. Booker’s diligent search was rewarded by the discovery of the bond, and the minister’s return, which are as follows:

Bond

Know all men by these presents that we, Thomas Lincoln and Richard Berry, are held and fairly bound unto his Excellency the Governor of Kentucky, in the just and full sum of fifty pounds current money to the payment of which well and truly to be made to the said governor and his successors, we bind ourselves, our heirs, do jointly and severally, formerly, by these presents sealed with our seals and dated this 10th day of June 1806.  The condition of the above obligation is such that there is a marriage shortly intended between the above bound Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks for which a license has been issued.  Now if there be no lawful cause to obstruct the said marriage then this obligation to be void or else to remain in full force and virtue in law.

                                       Thomas Lincoln, Richard Berry guardian, John H. Parrott

Return

I do certify that by authority of license issued from the clerk’s office of Washington County, I have solemnized the rites of matrimony between Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, June 12, 1806, A.D., agreeable to the rites and ceremonies of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Witness my hand, Jesse Head, D.E.M.E.C.

His Parents

Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks after their marriage went from the home of Richard Berry to a hewed log house near Little Beach on what is now known as Lincoln Run, in the Beechland neighborhood, where they began housekeeping.  In the course of time a child was born, a daughter, whose name was Sarah.  Three years later a boy was born.  Now the point of contention of Washington County regarding the birth of the boy – is based upon the testimony of William Hardesty, who was a young boy when the Lincolns lived in this county.  Before the birth of the second child, according to Mr. Hardesty, Thomas Lincoln went to Hardin County, now Larue, to make arrangements to move his family and left the boy, William Hardesty, at his home with his wife for company and protection.  Before their removal to Hardin County, a boy was born February 12, 1809, and he was called Abraham.  Mr. Hardesty went with the Lincolns to help them in moving, and this infant and the daughter, Sarah, were carried from Washington to Hardin County.  There are now living in Springfield persons to whom Mr. Hardesty related the foregoing facts.  Other persons older than Mr. Hardest have related substantially the same facts.  Mr. Ivan Rogers, whose death occurred the 3rd inst., and Mrs. Charlotte Hobart Vawter, received the same information several years ago from an old lady who lived in the neighborhood of the Lincoln home and was conversant with their family events.

Whether Abraham was born in Washington or Larue county, the fact is of record in this county that his parents were married here.  It is true Lincoln thought he was born in Larue County, but he knew nothing about his parents’ marriage, where, when or by whom married.  It is just as reasonable to believe he was mistaken as to the place of his birth.  At any rate, the proof hangs upon the slender thread of belief in the veracity of old citizens of Washington County, or of Larue County.

Local Families Related to Lincoln

In writing this article it is necessary to trace the genealogy of the three families, Berry, Hanks and Mitchell, and show the relationship of the families in order to prove more than a cursory interest and knowledge of the traditions and history of Nancy Hanks by those who contributed the facts about the families.  the records in the clerk’s office are a proof conclusive of her marriage to Thomas Lincoln, but other personal incidents and family history have been handed down four generations of the family.

Judy (Shipley) Mitchell’s children, John and Sarah Mitchell, each married and reared large families.  John married Eliza Boone Browning and their daughter, Mrs. Nancy Mitchell Walker who died a little more than a year ago related many interesting facts as told her by her father of their relatives, the Hanks – parents of her cousin, Nancy Hanks, for whom she was named.

Sarah Mitchell married John Thompson and to them were born ten children:  Martha, Elizabeth, Naomi, Stith, Jane, Nancy, William R., Sterling, John W. and Robert Mitchell Thompson, the latter to whom credit is due and should be given for instituting the search for the marriage record of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks.  Mrs. Charlotte Robert Vawter, of Indianapolis, is a daughter of Naomi Thompson and has done much to perfect the genealogy of Lincoln.

Mrs. Elizabeth Graham, of Springfield, and Mr. John W. Thompson, of Indianapolis, are the only living children of Mr. Mitchell Thompson.

These two families, Walker and Thompson, were substantial honorable families, and their remaining descendants in this county and in Indianapolis are men and women of integrity and honor.

The Kyle Family

From Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky

The Kyle Family

The early records of Washington County are pregnant with entries relating to this family.  They concern chiefly the Rev. Thomas Kyle.

The Rev. Thomas Kyle, a native of Pennsylvania, was born in 1757.  He was a soldier in the Revolution and it is said that he once sat with George Washington in the Masonic lodge.  As a soldier he was wounded by a sabre in the hands of a British officer and he carried the scar on his head as a token of the war in which he had participated.

After studying medicine with Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, Thomas Kyle emigrated to Kentucky and settled in Washington County in 1790, and here he co-mingled the practice of medicine with preaching, for he was a minister of the Methodist Church as well as a physician.

We surmise that in Pennsylvania the Rev. Kyle and the Rev. Jesse Head were associated.  Kyle came to Washington County in 1790, and it may have been through his acquaintanceship with Head in their native state that the man who was later to marry Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks was influenced by his friend, already in Washington County, Kentucky, to come on about the year 1795.  Both men were Methodists and both were active as pioneer preachers of that faith in Kentucky.

After a sojourn of 8 years in Washington County, Thomas Kyle moved to Mercer County where he died June 26, 1846.  His children were John, Andrew G., Matthew, Jane and Rebecca.  Andrew G., was born in Washington County in 1796 and at the age of 6two years removed with his parents to the County of Mercer.  He married Jane, daughter of John Glover, of Mercer County, and had two sons, Thomas A. and John G.  The latter became a prominent lawyer and was an ardent supporter of General Grant in the presidential races of 1868 and 1872.