The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Hancock County and Lincoln's Forgotten Relatives

by Deb Kolz-Olson

For "The Quill "Hancock County: The Land of Lincoln's Forgotten Relatives" was the title of a program presented by Harry Miller of La Harpe Saturday evening.

The event was held in Carthage at the senior center for members and guests of the Hancock County Historical Society.

Mr. Miller recounted the family's story, focusing on the life of county pioneer Thomas Jefferson Lincoln, a second cousin of Abraham Lincoln.

Young Thomas was born on April 29, 1823 in Grayson County, KY and moved to Sangamon County, IL, in 1829 with his family, parents James B. and Frances Day Lincoln, and four younger siblings.

In the fall of that year the family moved again to the newly formed Hancock County.

Mr. Miller described the lives of the Lincoln family, early settlers on the Illinois prairie who arrived in Hancock County at a time when Native American of the Sac and Fox tribes still lived in the area, as typical for the times.

There, Thomas Jefferson Lincoln grew to manhood and lived the rest of his life. He was an educated man who could read and write. His occupation is listed in census records as farmer and carpenter. In 1855 he married Martha Jane Burress.

They raised a family of seven children, only three of whom survived him.

His wife died in 1874 and is buried in the Majorville Cemetery.

His life, stretched from log cabin days to the modern era, when the horse and buggy of pioneer days had begun to give way to the new automobile.

One news clipping, Mr. Miller cited, described Lincoln's ride in a car (probably his first) just prior to his death in April of 1914.

It is believed that Lincoln is buried near his wife in the Majorville Cemetery, however, no stone marks his final resting place.

During a visit to that cemetery, a remark by his step-granddaughter prompted Miller to begin his research. Tearfully, she commented, that it was sad that this family should not be remembered.

As a part of his program Mr. Miller also exhibited a number of artifacts, photographs and documents which help to illustrate the life of Thomas Jefferson Lincoln.

Miller indicated that his purpose in preparing the program was to help preserve the history of the Lincoln family in Hancock County. He hopes it will be possible to erect a monument at the cemetery memorializing Mr. Lincoln. In addition, Mr. Miller spoke of the importance of preserving all of Hancock County's history, inviting everyone to visit the Society's library in Carthage.

For more information on the Hancock County Historical Society, contact the Society's office and library at 306 Walnut Street in Carthage or call 217- 357-0043.

The library is staffd by volunteers, open Mon-Sat from 9 am to 3 pm. The Society also maintains a website at

The Society's next program will be presented by Jan Holtman and Tim Tomlinson at 7 pm on Saturday April 19, 2015 at the Carthage Senior Center, 301 Main Street.

The program's topic will be "The History of the Hancock County Historical Society and the Kibbe Museum" and is open to the public.

Harry Miller, La Harpe, holds a photo of Thomas Jefferson Lincoln, sketched from a tintype. Miller worked for 1-1/2 years on the Lincoln research. - photo-by Dessa Rodeffer/Quill Publisher-Owner