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Some Connections to Abraham Lincoln – Really?

Posted By on August 3, 2015

As obituaries and death notices appeared in the Harrisburg newspapers in the late 19th century and early 20th century, readers surely noticed the unusual number of references to associations of the decedents to Abraham Lincoln.  How many of the claims were true?  If any blog readers have any evidence to support any of the claims or can give additional information, comments can be added to this post.

Here’s a sampling:


From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 24 July 1899:

She Was Lincoln’s Sweetheart

Lexington, Kentucky, 24 July 1899 — Mrs. Mary Lawless died here yesterday in the 82nd year of her age.  She was a sweetheart of Abraham Lincoln and a reigning belle of her day.  Her maiden name was Joplin and her home was at Mt. Vernon, Kentucky.  Her husband is James R. Lawless, a Mexican War veteran, who survives her.  She leaves a daughter, Mrs. Mary L. Scott, widow of the late Lieutenant John Scott, of the United States Army.


From the Harrisburg Patriot, 19 November 1907


Was One of Two Railroad Men Honored by President Lincoln for Valuable Service

Wilkes-Barre, 18 November 1907 — John Cassidy, formerly of this city, and one of the best know of the old officials of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and the Central Railroad of New Jersey, died at 12:30 yesterday afternoon at his home in Philadelphia, of paralysis, aged seventy.

Mr. Cassidy commenced his long and honorable railroad career when a mere boy, firing the Witch, a noted official inspection engine of the Philadelphia and Reading.  In those days wood was used as a fuel.  Soon afterward he was placed in charge of the Ariel, also used by officials of the Reading on inspection tours.  Then he entered the shops at Reading to learn his trade as a machinist and finished it at the shops at Palo Alto.  While learning the trade he also in what spare moments he had, learned to be a telegrapher and the knowledge thus acquired fitted him for the rapid progress he later made in rising to important positions in railroad work.  He became engine man, shop foreman and train dispatcher of the Reading and was a prominent figure in the early day development of that railroad.

During the Civil War he was in charge of the transportation of troops to the front and at the time of Gen. Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania he made such a notable record for efficiency in getting troops to the points where they were concentrated that President Lincoln took personal cognizance of his able work and presented him with one of the two medals issued to railroaders for valuable service rendered to the Union cause.

In 1873 he was appointed to an important position with the Central Railroad of New Jersey and made his headquarters in this city.  He was in charge of the shipment of all of that company’s coal out of this valley and was in turn car master and general district train dispatcher for the road.  Later he accepted the superintendency of the Iron Mountain Railroad in Missouri, but after several years’ service there he returned to the Central and this city.  He remained with this railroad until he retired from active work in 1900.  A year later he removed to Philadelphia where he resided since.

Note:  A similar obituary appeared in the Wilkes-Barre Times, 18 November 1907, with additional information about survivors and the funeral arrangements.


From the Harrisburg Patriot, 11 December 1907:


By Associated Press to the Patriot

Tarrytown, New York, 10 December 1907 —  Major General Alexander Hamilton, grandson of Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington, died at his home here today at the age of ninety-two years.  He had been ill from grip since Thanksgiving.  General Hamilton was born in New York in 1815 and early in life was aid to Governor Morris and later to Governor Seymour.  He spent two years at West Point and at the outbreak of the Civil War organized the Fifth Artillery.  General Hamilton served directly under President Lincoln for a time and was in command of the troops in New York at the time of the draft riots.  He was widely known as an author.


From the Harrisburg Patriot, 16 March 1909:


Arthur Alward, Veteran of Civil War Dies in Altoona

By Associated Press to the Patriot

Altoona, Pennsylvania, 15 March 1909 — Arthur Alward, a veteran of the Civil War, died at his home in Bellwood today, aged 74.  He enlisted in January, 1861, in the 187th Pennsylvania Volunteers [187th Pennsylvania Infantry] and was mustered out of service 3 August 1866.  While the body of Abraham Lincoln lay in State in Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, the night of 23 April [1865], and the day following, Alward was one of the guard of honor.  Only two of the guard of honor now survive.  Mr. Alward performed jury duty last week, his death resulting from a sudden illness.


From the Harrisburg Patriot, 24 June 1914:


By Associated Press to the Patriot

Shamokin, 23 June 1914 — Captain J. W. Haas, commander of the Ninety-Sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers [96th Pennsylvania Infantry] during the Civil War, died here today.  Following the assassination of President Lincoln, Haas, who bore a striking resemblance to J. Wilkes Booth, while on the way to the Clearfield Oil Region in Pennsylvania, was arrested by troops who had hard work preventing a mob from hanging him.

Note:  For a death notification letter written by Haas to the mother of John C. Gratz, see:  Corp. John C. Gratz, Fever Victim.


From the Harrisburg Patriot, 26 April 1918:


New York, 25 April 1918 — John R. Miller, one of Abraham Lincoln‘s bodyguard when the President was shot in Washington, died at his Brooklyn home, aged 75.  He was a Civil War veteran.  He was wounded at Gettysburg.


From the Harrisburg Patriot, 13 November 1920:


Philadelphia, 12 November 1920 — John C. Weaver, a Civil War veteran, said to be the last survivor of the six men who carried President Lincoln to the White House, after he had been shot in Ford’s Theatre, Washington, died here today at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Anna Jury.  He was born in Pottsville in 1822.


From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 1 March 1917:


Winchester, Illinois, 27 February, 1917 — Mrs. Linnie Cheatham, 76, a one-time sweetheart of Abraham Lincoln, is dead at her home here.  Mrs. Cheatham was the daughter of Major R. E. Haggard, Mexican and Civil War veteran.  At one time he kept a tavern, much frequented by lawyers, politicians and court officials, and Miss Haggard often sang for the guests.

It was there Lincoln met her and wrote and dedicated a poem to her.  The album in which it was inscribed was exhibited at the Panama-Pacific Exposition.








3 Responses to “Some Connections to Abraham Lincoln – Really?”

  1. Steve says:

    I’ve been able to find some information on these people

    Mary Lawless
    I found a larger obituary of her in the Chicago Times:

    However the McKee-Hardin marriage where Mary supposedly met Lincoln took place in Illinois (not Kentucky) on 27 Sept. 1842; just over a month before Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd. So it doesn’t seem likely that he would be romancing someone else then. Also Martinette Hardin McKee never mentioned such an incident occurring at her wedding even though she was interviewed as an oral history subject about Lincoln. So I think the evidence is overwhelming that this romance never happened.

    John Cassidy
    The Reading Eagle gave him this obituary but it doesn’t shed any light on what he did for the railroad specifically in regards to the civil war:

    Arthur Alward
    He was not a member of the honor guard when Lincoln’s body was in Philadelphia:

    Arthur Alward enlisted into Company C of the 187th Pennsylvania Infantry on 29 Jan. 1864 and was mustered out on 03 Aug. 1865 in Harrisburg. He also later enlisted in the Army again after the Civil War. The 187th Pennsylvania (presumably including Alward) led the procession transporting Lincoln’s body from the railway station to Independence Hall. Somehow that morphed into Alward becoming a member of the honor guard.

    John R. Miller
    This is the Brooklyn Daily Eagle article on Miller’s death:

    Lincoln’s only body guard at Ford’s Theater was policeman John Parker, who wasn’t even with Lincoln when Booth killed him. So this story is just false and made up.

    Linnie Cheatham
    Linnie’s father, Robert E. Haggard, was a friend of Lincoln’s in Illinois. There are copies of several letters Lincoln sent to Robert, Linnie, and her siblings. The obituary’s use of the term sweetheart can be confusing especially since Linnie would have been about 2 years old when Lincoln and Mary Todd married.

  2. John Todd says:

    Mary Todd’s grandmother was married to one of my direct ancestors. Her father was a distant cousin “Todd”. A Kentucky Todd. My family was from Pennsylvania from before the Revolution. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was a Pennsylvania Todd. Three Todd brothers came over on a boat from Scotland and then Ireland, One moved to Virginia, one to Kentucky, and my relative stayed in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Pottstown to be exact.

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