In January and February we honor three great Americans:
Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington.
Here are some little-known facts about Lincoln that don’t
make the headlines but relate to his background and his human
Lincoln’s ancestors left southeastern England because of
a proclamation in the early 1600s that said, "All of those
who do not conform to the strict regulations of the Anglican
Church will be harried out of the land." They were in danger
because they were Quakers who believed that everyone was created
equal in the sight of God.
Daniel Boone’s ancestors, also Quakers, left southwest
England later, also seeking religious freedom. George Fox, their
leader, had been tortured. Any safe location, even in the untamed
new land across the Atlantic, was attractive to people who were
in such danger.
A young weaver named Samuel Lincoln came here only 17 years
after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Gregory Dexter, one of my
husband’s ancestors and the first printer in America, came
from London in the 1640s. George Boone, an ancestor of Daniel
Boone, made a notoriously miserable crossing of the Atlantic,
landing in Philadelphia in 1717. They and many others were
Quakers in search of freedom to worship God in their own way,
without harassment. Samuel Lincoln married here and the couple
raised a large family, many of whom became influential in the
development of the new country.
The Lincolns were attracted to the same general area as were
the Boones. According to historical and biographical information
by Willard Mounts, members of these families met first at a
Quaker meeting when they lived in Berks County, Pa. In his book,
"The Pioneer and the Prairie Lawyer" (Ginwill
Publishing Co., Denver, Colo., 1992), Mounts writes: "This
was the beginning of a close relationship leading to several
marriages between the two families ... strong ties that endured
for many years."
Daniel Boone was 75 years old and living in Missouri when
Abraham Lincoln was born.
Mounts writes that, as a youth, Abe was strong and ambitious.
He had helped raise enough produce that he wanted to take it
downriver to sell. He persuaded his mother to let him do this and
built a flatboat large enough to carry several barrels of his
produce. He was at the wharf when a riverboat stopped for
passengers. Two well-dressed men approached, looked over the
several boats available and chose his.
"Will you take us and our trunks out to the
steamboat?" they asked. Abe said he’d do it, thinking
he might make about "2 or 3 bits" for the job. He
loaded their heavy trunks onto the flatboat and the men sat on
their trunks. Then he put the heavy trunks up onto the steamer
that has ready to pull out.
Abe called, "Fellows, you forgot to pay me." Each
man then tossed a silver half-dollar 4 bits each
onto the deck of his boat!
He said, "I could hardly credit that I, a poor boy, had
earned a dollar in less than a day. By honest work, I had earned
Later he said, "The world seemed wider and fairer before
me. I was a more hopeful and confident being from that
As a little girl, I experienced a similar feeling when one of
Dad’s milk customers paid me 25 cents for a Christmas tree I
cut from the woods. More on young Abe Lincoln later.