His oldest son, working hard by, ran to the house
for a gun; returning toward the spot where lay his
father’s body, he saw an Indian in the act of
seizing his brother, the little boy named Thomas.
He fired, with happy aim; the Indian fell dead, and
Thomas escaped to the house. This Thomas it was
who afterward became the father of Abraham Lincoln.
Of the other sons of Mordecai (great-uncles of the
President), Thomas also went to Kentucky, Isaac went
to Tennessee, while Jacob and John stayed in Virginia,
and begat progeny who became in later times ferocious
rebels, and of whom one wrote a very comical blustering
letter to his relative the President; and probably
another, bearing oddly enough the name of Abraham,
was a noted fighter. It is curious to observe
of what migratory stock we have here the sketch.
Mr. Shackford calls attention to the fact that through
six successive generations all save one were “pioneers
in the settlement of new countries,” thus:
1. Samuel came from England to Hingham, Massachusetts.
2. Mordecai lived and died at Scituate, close
by the place of his birth. 3. Mordecai moved,
and settled in Pennsylvania, in the neighborhood which
afterward became Berks County, while it was still
wilderness. 4. John moved into the wilds of Virginia.
5. Abraham went to the backwoods of Kentucky
shortly after Boone’s settlement. 6. Thomas
moved first into the sparsely settled parts of Indiana,
and thence went onward to a similar region in Illinois.
Thus in time was corroborated what Abraham Lincoln
wrote in 1848 in one of the above-mentioned letters
to Hon. Solomon Lincoln: “We have a vague
tradition that my great-grandfather went from Pennsylvania
to Virginia, and that he was a Quaker.”
It is of little consequence that this “vague
tradition” was stoutly contradicted by the President’s
father, the ignorant Thomas, who indignantly denied
that either a Puritan or a Quaker could be found in
the line of his forbears, and who certainly seemed
to set heredity at defiance if such were the case.
But while thus repudiating others, Thomas himself
was in some danger of being repudiated; for so pained
have some persons been by the necessity of recognizing
Thomas Lincoln as the father of the President, that
they have welcomed, as a happy escape from this so
miserable paternity, a bit of gratuitous and unsupported
gossip, published, though perhaps with more of malice
than of faith, by Mr. Herndon, to the effect that Abraham
Lincoln was the illegitimate son of some person unknown,
presumably some tolerably well-to-do Kentuckian, who
induced Thomas to assume the role of parent.