Abraham Lincoln (captain)

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Abraham Lincoln
Born(1744-05-13)May 13, 1744
Died(1786-05-19)May 19, 1786 (aged 42)[1]
Jefferson County, Virginia, U.S.
(now Jefferson County, Kentucky, U.S.)
Cause of deathKilled in action (gunshot wound)
Resting placeLong Run Baptist Church Cemetery, Eastwood, Kentucky, U.S.
38°15′17″N 85°24′48″W / 38.254754°N 85.413315°W / 38.254754; -85.413315
Occupation(s)Tanner, farmer
Known forGrandfather and namesake of Abraham Lincoln
ChildrenMordecai Lincoln
Josiah Lincoln
Mary Lincoln
Thomas Lincoln
Nancy Lincoln
Parent(s)John Lincoln
Rebekah Flowers
RelativesAbraham Lincoln (grandson)
Capt Abraham Lincoln signature.png

Captain Abraham Lincoln (May 13, 1744 – May 19, 1786) was the grandfather of the 16th U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a military captain during the American Revolution, and a pioneer settler of Kentucky. Some historical sources attest his last name as Linkhorn, although neither Abraham nor his children ever signed themselves as such.[2]


Captain Abraham Lincoln was a descendant of Samuel Lincoln (1622–1690), who was born in Hingham, Norfolk, England, and who, as a weaver's apprentice, emigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637. Abraham's father John Lincoln (1716–1788) was born in Monmouth County in the province of New Jersey, and grew up in the Schuylkill river valley in the province of Pennsylvania. Typical of his class, John Lincoln learned a trade, in his case weaving, to practice alongside the subsistence farming necessary on the colonial frontier. The Lincoln home farm on Hiester's Creek, in what is now Exeter Township, Berks County, was left to John's half-brothers, the children of his father's second marriage. In 1743, John Lincoln married Rebekah Morris (1720–1806), daughter of Enoch Flowers of Caernarvon Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Rebekah was the widow of James Morris and the mother of a young son, Jonathan Morris.[3][4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Abraham Lincoln was born May 13, 1744, in what is now Berks County, Pennsylvania.[6] Abraham was the first child born to John and Rebekah Lincoln, who had nine children in all: Abraham born 1744, twins Hannah and Lydia born 1748, Isaac born 1750, Jacob born 1751, John born 1755, Sarah born 1757, Thomas born 1761, and Rebekah born 1767.[7][8]


Abraham Lincoln learned the tanner's trade and later took his brother John as his apprentice. A prominent tanner of Berks County in those days was James Boone (1709 – 1785), uncle to Daniel Boone. James Boone was a near neighbor to the Lincolns of Hiester's Creek, and his daughter Anne was married to John Lincoln's half-brother. This family connection may have influenced Abraham's choice of occupation.[3][9][10]

In 1768 Abraham's father John Lincoln purchased land in the Shenandoah Valley in the colony of Virginia. He settled his family on a 600-acre (2.4 km2) tract on Linville Creek in Augusta County (now Rockingham County). In 1773, John and Rebekah Lincoln divided their tract with their two eldest sons, Abraham and Isaac. Abraham built a house on his land, across Linville Creek from his parents' home.[7]

Abraham married Bathsheba Herring (c. 1742 – 1836), a daughter of Alexander Herring (c. 1708 – c. 1778) and his wife Abigail Harrison (c. 1710 – c. 1780) of Linville Creek.[11] The assertion that Abraham was first married to Mary Shipley has been refuted.[12] Five children were born to Abraham: Mordecai born circa 1771, Josiah born circa 1773, Mary born circa 1775, Thomas born 1778, and Nancy born 1780.[7][8]

During the American Revolutionary War, Abraham served as a captain of the Augusta County militia, and with the organization of Rockingham County in 1778, he served as a captain for that county. He was in command of sixty of his neighbors, ready to be called out by the governor of Virginia and marched where needed. Captain Lincoln's company served under General Lachlan McIntosh in the fall and winter of 1778, assisting in the construction of Fort McIntosh in Pennsylvania and Fort Laurens in Ohio.

In 1780, Abraham Lincoln sold his land on Mill Creek, and in 1781 he moved his family to Kentucky, then a district of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The family settled in Jefferson County, about twenty miles (32 km) east of the site of Louisville. The territory was still contested by Native Americans living across the Ohio River. For protection the settlers lived near frontier forts, called stations, to which they retreated when the alarm was given. Abraham Lincoln settled near Hughes' Station on Floyd's Fork and began clearing land, planting corn, and building a cabin.[7][13] Lincoln owned at least 5,544 acres of land in the richest sections of Kentucky.[14]


Modern grave marker at the traditional site of Lincoln's cabin

One day in May 1786, Abraham Lincoln was working in his field with his three sons when he was shot from the nearby forest and fell to the ground. The eldest boy, Mordecai, ran to the cabin where a loaded gun was kept, while the middle son, Josiah, ran to Hughes' Station for help. Thomas, the youngest, stood in shock by his father. From the cabin, Mordecai observed a Native American come out of the forest and stop by his father's body. The Native American reached for Thomas, either to kill him or to carry him off. Mordecai took aim and shot the Native American in the chest, killing him.[3][7]

Tradition states that Captain Abraham Lincoln was buried next to his cabin, which is now the site of Long Run Baptist Church and Cemetery near Eastwood, Kentucky. A stone memorializing Captain Abraham Lincoln was placed in the cemetery in 1937.[15]

Bathsheba Lincoln was left a widow with five underage children. She moved the family away from the Ohio River, to Washington County, where the country was more thickly settled and there was less danger of a Native American attack. Under the law then operating, Mordecai Lincoln, as the eldest son, inherited two-thirds of his father's estate when he reached the age of twenty-one, with Bathsheba receiving one-third. The other children inherited nothing. Life was hard, particularly for Thomas, the youngest, who got little schooling and was forced to go to work at a young age.[7][13]

In later years Thomas Lincoln would recount the story of the day his father died, to his son, Abraham Lincoln, the future sixteenth president of the United States of America. "The story of his death by the Indians," the president later wrote, "and of Uncle Mordecai, then fourteen years old, killing one of the Indians, is the legend more strongly than all others imprinted on my mind and memory."[16]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Donald, David Herbert (1995). Lincoln. New York City, New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-684-80846-8. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Lea and Hutchinson.
  4. ^ Abraham Lincoln in Pennsylvania. one of his brothers was named Jacob Lincoln
  5. ^ Warren.
  6. ^ Berks County was formed in 1752 from Philadelphia County, eight years after Abraham was born. Abraham's father, John Lincoln, had several residences in the Schuylkill valley after his marriage, and the possibility exists that Abraham was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Wayland.
  8. ^ a b Harrison.
  9. ^ Bogan.
  10. ^ Guenther.
  11. ^ Coleman, Charles H. (1959). "Lincoln's Lincoln Grandmother". Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. 52 (1): 59–90. JSTOR 40189910. Retrieved 6 August 2022.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ The assertion that Abraham was first married to Mary Shipley was refuted by William E. Barton, The Lineage of Lincoln, 1929, pp. 71-73, 176, 178, 181-183.From pp. 71-72, regarding Robert and Mary Shipley of Lunenburg County, Virginia, and their alleged five daughters, "...these five daughters are not to be found in the Virginia records." Barton's final statement on the alleged Mary Shipley, page 182: "There is not a dot on an i nor the cross of a t in any contemporary record to show that Abraham Lincoln of Virginia had any other wife than Bathsheba. Mary Shipley Lincoln is a fictitious character."
  13. ^ a b Tarbell.
  14. ^ Donald, David Herbert (1995). Lincoln. New York: Touchstone. p. 21.
  15. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker Database, marker number 101.
  16. ^ Letter from A. Lincoln to Jesse Lincoln, 1 April 1854, Springfield, Illinois. Published in Lincoln, Speeches and Writings.