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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

The Lincoln Family

Dallas Bogan on 19 September 2004
The following was taken from Dallas Bogan's book, "The Pioneer Writings of Josiah Morrow."
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Of Warren County and Their Family Records Preserved at Lebanon.
John Lincoln Emigrates from Rockingham County,
Virginia, to Warren County--Some Genealogical
Data Preserved by His Descendants Now Published for the First Time--Baptists.

November 11, 1909

In the old Baptist graveyard at Lebanon is the grave of John Lincoln who died in 1835 aged 79 years. He was a grand uncle of President Abraham Lincoln.
Isaac L. Drake, of Lebanon, a grandson of John Lincoln, some years before his death permitted me to copy some old family records found in a manuscript volume in his possession which had belonged to his mother who was a first cousin of President Lincoln's father. These records gave some information concerning the president's ancestors I had not seen in any of his biographies. The old book containing these records seems to have been used originally as a "cyphering book" before slates were used by school children. In addition to arithmetical problems worked out, there were copied into it some pieces of poetry and family records. It consisted of about a quire of foolscap sewed together and covered with leather. On the cover was plainly written "Rachel Lincoln, January 29, 1807."
This Rachel Lincoln, who seems to have used the book while acquiring her education, was at the date living in Rockingham county, Virginia and was not yet seventeen. Her first cousin, Thomas, the father of the illustrious Lincoln, was several years her senior and had grown up in the wilds of Kentucky literally without education and, as his son wrote, "never did more in the way of writing than to bunglingly write his own name.
Miss Mary L. Drake, court stenographer at Lebanon, is a daughter of Dr. I.L. Drake and has in her possession a diary kept by her grandmother Rachel Lincoln Drake which gives some history of this branch of the Lincoln family both in Virginia and Ohio. This diary has been kindly submitted to my examination.

Lincoln Genealogy.

In 1848 when a member of congress Abraham Lincoln wrote in reply to inquiries concerning his pedigree; "My father's name was Thomas, my grandfather's Abraham, the same as my own. My grandfather went from Rockingham county in Virginia, to Kentucky about the year 1782. And two years afterward was killed by the Indians. We have a vague tradition that my great-grandfather went from Pennsylvania to Virginia, and that he was a Quaker. Further than this I have never heard anything." And in a letter in the same year he says of his grandfather Abraham; "He had, as I think I have heard, four brothers, Isaac, Jacob, Thomas and John." The last named was the John Lincoln who emigrated to Warren county, Ohio. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln wrote that his family were originally Quakers, tho in later times they had fallen away from the peculiar habits of that people. Rachel Lincoln's diary tells how her father came to be a Baptist in Virginia, a church to which he adhered until his death.
The first Lincoln to emigrate to Virginia is called in the Lincoln genealogy "Virginia John." He was the great grandfather of the president, and the father of the Ohio John. The family records at Lebanon, to which I have had access, gives the dates of his birth and marriage and the dates of the births of his five sons and four daughters. Some of the biographies of Lincoln while giving correctly the names of the five sons, erroneously say that Abraham, the grandfather of the president, was the third son. The records at Lebanon show that he was the eldest child of his father, born May 13, 1714, and that the names of the nine children in the order of their birth were Abraham, Hannah, Lydia, Isaac, Jacob, John, Sarah, Thomas and Rebecca.
The same record gives the maiden name of the wife of "Virginia John" as Rebecca Flowers, daughter of Enoch Flowers, and the date of her marriage to John Lincoln as July 5, 1743. This great-grandmother of President Lincoln, this record shows had been first married to James Morris and her son, Jonathan Morris, a half brother of the nine Lincoln children, was born October 8, 1739, when she was nineteen years old.
In beginning her diary Rachel Lincoln says she well remembers to have heard her parents say that they were both born in Pennsylvania, her father, John Lincoln, July 15, 1755 and her mother, Mary Yarnall, March 29, 1760. Her grandfather moved with his family to Rockingham county, Virginia, in 1765, and settled near Linville's creek.
When her father was a youth he was apprenticed to his oldest brother to learn the tanner's trade. It is not clear whether this apprenticeship was in Pennsylvania or Virginia. A letter from Rachel's brother, which I have seen, says his father was an apprentice to his brother Abraham in Pennsylvania. Rachel seems to assume it was in Virginia.
While still an apprentice the father had serious religious convictions. Having been brought up under Quaker influence he first determined to wait until he was of age and then go to Pennsylvania and join the Friends. In the meantime he began to read the New Testament in course and before he was half thru he became a Baptist in belief. He was baptized, Rachel thinks, by John Olderson, and joined the Linville's creek Baptist church. In 1782 he was married in Pennsylvania to Mary Yarnall, and in 1783 made his residence on Brook's creek, Rockingham county, Virginia. Rachel thinks her mother became a Baptist about 1787.

Rachel Lincoln.

Rachel was born July 21, 1790, and was the fifth child in a family of five sons and six daughters. The account she gives of her girlhood is so completely taken up with her religious reflections and experience that she neglects to tell us anything about her youthful amusements of how she learned to read and write. She makes no mention of ever attending school, and as public schools were almost unknown in Virginia at that time it is probable that she received her knowledge of letters at home. Her father was a land surveyor in Virginia and some of his manuscripts, still preserved, show that he had education enough to teach his own children the common English branches. Rachel's brother, Isaac, became a teacher in Warren County, Ohio, and Jesse Gustin, now living in Lebanon and in his 86th year, remembers that when a little boy he went to a school at Red Lion taught by Isaac Lincoln.
Rachel's mind, apparently excitable by nature was even in her early childhood haunted with religious terrors. Her knowledge seems to have been inhibited chiefly from her father who conducted family worship and sometimes made comments on the chapter he read from the Bible. From the distance of churches and the paucity of preaching, the family spent many Sundays at home in religious exercises. While she was a little girl the most wonderful religious revival in American history was going on in Kentucky and it was talked about in her home in Virginia. "I sometimes thought," she wrote, "if I was old enough to travel I would go to Kentucky on purpose to get religion, as I had heard of such great revivals there, but I was too little and was much afraid I should not live to get my growth if I died as I then was I should be lost." She feared sudden death and was always greatly alarmed by thunder. She relates that in July, 1803, she was much agonized by the sudden death of a neighbor who a few days before had reaped for her father in the harvest field. She says he was killed by thunder, and on going to the house he was found lying dead in a lower room and his negro servant in an upper room, both killed by the same stroke. Forty-one years later she was reminded of this occurrence when she attended the funeral at Lebanon of the four Harmar sisters, killed by one stroke of lightning in 1844.

Virginia Baptists.

The Baptists were not numerous where the Lincolns lived and in her early years Rachel heard but little preaching. Sometimes the family would go to a meeting over bad roads eight miles and sometimes another eleven miles distant from their home. The Linville's creek church to which her parents belonged had about five male and seven female members. Elder Anderson Moffat, a frail old man who lived ten miles from the church, preached to the little congregation once a month in the summer season, but the church was sometimes five or six months without any preaching. Sunday Schools and prayer meetings are not mentioned in the diary. In 1803, when she was thirteen, Rachel could remember of having seen but one person baptized and from 1803 to 1805, not more than three persons were added by baptism to her father's church.
About 1808 a minister from the Catoctin Association spent about fifteen months in the neighborhood, and he baptized about 11 or 12. The last preacher in the church before her father's removal to Ohio was a man of piety but of weak gifts, and he spoke poor English. Rachel, when quite young, made a profession of her faith at a large Baptist meeting held in a barn.

Removal to Ohio.

John Lincoln removed with his family to Warren county, Ohio, in the autumn of 1819. He purchased a farm of 181 acres about a mile southeast of Red Lion. This land he bought of Lewis Drake, the purchase price being $3985. In the autumn of 1819 John Lincoln and his wife, Rachel and her brother Isaac, and sister Nancy joined the Baptist church at Lebanon which was the one of the strongest churches of the denomination in the Miami valley.
Rachel had become greatly interested in the cause of missions by reading a periodical taken by her father called the Latter Day Luminary. She was invited to become a teacher in the Baptist Indian mission at Ft. Wayne, Ind., under the charge of Rev. Isaac McCoy, and with her parents consent she left her home in March, 1821, and reached Ft. Wayne in eight days. On her journey she says the first Indians she ever saw were at Shanesville, Ohio. At the mission she found from 30 to 40 Indian pupils of all ages from 4 to 19 years, and every day she heard the Pottawattamie, Miami, French and English languages spoken. Some of the children were half-breed French. She gave instruction in sewing and other useful arts as well as in religion and morals. She thought many of the pupils possessed of good natural abilities and believed that she was instrumental in improving their condition.
She remained at the mission six months and that time saw only three persons baptized. These were first, Mrs. Shane, a Shawnee woman who told her experience thru an interpreter and was immersed in the Maumee river; second, Mrs. Turner, a half breed Miami woman, who had a good education and was well brought up, and third, Mrs. Black, an assistant in the family.
Rachel reached her home in Warren county, October 1, 1821. She was in good health in her return, but a week later she was seized with a fever and for a time she lay at death's door.
On August 22, 1822, Rachel Lincoln was married to Col. Lewis Drake, a widower with several children. The marriage was solemnized by Elder Wilson Thompson. Col. Drake was a prominent and influential pioneer of Warren county and one of the fathers of the Baptist church at Lebanon. His farm residence was near Genntown. The only son of this marriage was Dr. Isaac Lincoln Drake of Lebanon.
Every page of Rachel Drake's diary shows her deep interest in the welfare of the church to which she and her husband belonged.
On March 25, 1822, she heard Elder Daniel Drake preach at Lebanon. He had been the first pastor of the Lebanon church, but by reason of age and infirmity, had not preached for two years. Again on November 17 of the same year she heard the venerable Father Clark preach, she supposed for the last time.
In July 1841 she was instrumental in commencing a Sunday School in the Genntown school house.
On September 14, 1842, she went to a camp meeting for the first time in her life. The spectacle to her was a strange one. After much confusion a horn was blown for preaching and Mr. Maley preached.
Rachel Lincoln Drake died in 1845 aged 55 years. Her father John Lincoln died in 1835, aged 79, her mother, Mary Lincoln in 1832, aged 72. All three were buried in the old Baptist church yard at Lebanon and the inscriptions upon the three tombstones are still plainly legible.
Some of John Lincoln's children went to Tennessee and his descendants re scattered over that and other states. Several of his descendants reside in this county, but none of them bear the Lincoln surname.

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