Lincoln connections

Posted on February 12, 2012 by


Lincoln in years closer to his days relating to the Globe Taven

On Lincoln’s birthday, I figured I’d play a connect-the-dots exercise.

I’ve written recently about Lincoln’s ties to Virginia, and even mentioned that I know some who are related to Lincoln (via the Herring family) who are here in the Shenandoah Valley. Indeed… I have first cousins who, through their mother, are descended from two of Bathsheba Herring Lincoln’s siblings (Bethuel and William). Cool stuff… though that doesn’t give me connections to President Lincoln.

For that matter, my Civil War era Kentucky bloodline (Davison-Taylor) hails from… Hardin County, Kentucky… albeit a good 23 miles between the birthplace of my great-great grandmother (Mary “Molly” Rosanna Davison Moore) and Lincoln. Again, cool stuff… but nothing more than coincidental tie to place.

If, however, I work back from my great-great grandfather Moore to his grandmother (Mary Frances Saunders Moore, 1796-1854), things begin to liven up a little more. No… still no bloodline connection, but actual social connections.

Mary Saunders Moore, was born in Virginia… probably Loudoun County, considering that’s where most of the Saunders family was located in the late 1700s. While Mary’s “westward migration” found an end at Clear Spring, Maryland (where her husband, James Draden Moore, had settled prior to their marriage), other Saunders family members moved a bit further away from the Old Dominion.

One of Mary’s brothers, Cyrus Gore Saunders, was married to Margaret, but, by the early 1810s, Cyrus died, leaving Margaret with three children… Presley A., John W., and Cyrus G., III. In 1813, Margaret married William L. Fowkes. According to one site, the family moved…

… in the spring of 1817, to Warren County, Ky., where they had four children, and moved to Sangamon county, Ill., arriving in Oct., 1826, and settled three miles west of Springfield, where one child was born. Mr. Fowkes taught school there in a house built of round logs, with the earth for a floor, oiled paper for window lights, and a fire place as wide as one end of the house. That house was built in 1827. In the spring of 1831 Mr. F. moved to German Prairie, four miles northeast of Springfield.

As with yesterday’s post… I’m left wondering, once again, if these relatives kept in touch… an aunt with her nephews… anyway…

Saunders' add and poem, February 18, 1840

While I don’t know much about the in-between years for Cyrus G. Saunders, III, in 1840  (keep in mind… he’s a Virginia-born boy) he became proprietor of the Globe Tavern, in Springfield, Illinois.

It was in November, 1842, when a newly married Lincoln couple moved into Cyrus’ tavern. In the following year, Mrs. Sarah Beck, the widow of James Beck, took over as proprietress of the tavern beginning in 1843, renting it from Cyrus (you can read more about Lincoln and the Globe Tavern via this pdf link).

But that connection between Cyrus and Abraham didn’t begin and/or end when Widow Beck took over at the tavern. From what I can tell, as early as 1841, Cyrus had hired Lincoln for his services as a lawyer… and he did so again, at least one more time, in 1843.

Once again, I draw a blank (maybe I need to look a little more) on years that followed, and don’t pick-up again on Cyrus until 1845, when he was appointed assistant marshal of Springfield, Illinois. A year later, in November, 1846, he became secretary to Governor Thomas Ford. And, in yet another year, he was unsuccessful in his bid for Sangamon County clerk. By 1849, Cyrus packed-up and headed for California.

But… with the initial renting to Lincoln, and legal connections… this might not be where the social relationship ended.

Though it had been quite some time since they last saw one another, Cyrus felt compelled (political motivation, hoping to ride-in on the coattails of an incoming president, or just genuine interest in reaching out again to an “old friend” who had risen to the top???) to contact Lincoln again, in 1860.

Santa Clara County Cal Oct 1st 1860

My old friend, you will no doubt be much surprised to get a line from me, who you have not seen for eleven years and six months up to this date, & indeed hardly heard from me either, altho I hear from you evry day from San Francisco in the publick prints regarding your prospects for the next, and most exalted office in the gift of the American Republick’s and allow me to say to you that I am truly gratifyed in the opinion of your certain sucksess to that Exalted position, notwithstanding untill this time I have supported the Democratick party ever since my arrival in California in 1849, and I find hundreds of my Democratick friends in view of the affairs of our Government at this time to vote for Lincoln and Hamlin next November, you no doubt will reollect that my wife, who has been dead two years in a few mor days, if she was now alive she would say, Cyrus, you must vote for Abraham Lincoln for President, for you know that I like him and his wife & family better than I ever liked little Dug,1 alth I like him verry well.

Now this may seem weak in me, but such I know would be the fact if she was alive, but that is not all the reason which ocupys my mind, the first of which I must not violate, as her memory up to this day is most sacred.

I lived in this neighbourhood from 1849 up to the summer of 1854, and now am here on a visit for over six years absence. My present home is San Bernerdino County, Six Hd. miles South, for which I intend to leave in a few days, to remain untill about the first January, after which I shall come here again and intend to go to San Francisco, and some time after in January or first of February Start to Washington City which is only 30 miles from Leesburg Virginia which is the county town where I was born and partly raised untill about 10 years old. My present intention is to be in Washington at the Inauguration the 4th of March next, and then to go to Illinois from there.

Hoping to meet you and your family there in good health and spirits, I remain the old friend, of wife & family for ever

I remain

Yrs &c

Cyrus. G. Saunders

PS Excuse this badly written scrall as meeting with a lot of friends last night, got a little tight and lost my Spictacles, when read please give the letter to Thos. Strawbridge or some of my friends.

C. G. S

Regretfully, I know nothing further, as to whether contact continued, or if there were any other socialization opportunities between the two men.

On the other hand, another Saunders, from that very same line of Old Dominion natives, did have additional contact with Lincoln.

Mary Frances Saunders Moore’s uncle, Gunnell, also partook in some westward migration, ending up in Fleming County, Kentucky. One of his sons, Alvin, was born there, but continued west to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where he…

Alvin Saunders

…went into business, studied the law, and became involved in politics. In 1860 he chaired the Iowa delegation to the Republican national convention and successfully worked for Abraham Lincoln’s nomination for president.

Apparently, his efforts at campaigning for Lincoln didn’t go unnoticed, and on March 26, 1861, Alvin Saunders was appointed as territorial governor for Nebraska, a position he held until the territory gained statehood. You can read more about Alvin, here.

So, in short, as with several folks from 150+ years ago, they are quite distant from me… Cyrus G. Saunders, III, one of my 1st cousins, five times removed… and Alvin Saunders, being a 2nd cousin, five times removed (not exactly close kin)… to my fourth great grandmother, they were much closer; Cyrus being a nephew, and Alvin being a 1st cousin.

Understand, within the context of historical memory and reaching out for family heritage, it’s not that these connections place more importance on me… I am, in fact, no better for having found these connections; not at all. Rather, my interests is on the social connections as they may have existed at that time.  What influenced the thinking of family members, then. I’m left wondering how these connections to my fourth great grandmother had any bearing (if any at all) on her and members within her nuclear family.

Again, it doesn’t make who I am any different, but it is cool to think that my fourth great grandmother had a nephew and a cousin who had direct interaction with Lincoln.

Yours truly at the Lincoln Birthplace Monument, back in 2008. I think I wanted my wife to snap this photo because I found it particularly cool to be next to the detail about T.R. laying the cornerstone, in 1909.