Our February program, “Father Abraham”, gave us a look at Abe Lincoln as a father and was ably presented by Charlie Finnerty who was formerly the Spencer County historian. The Lincoln’s had four sons: Robert Todd, was born in 1843. A second son, Edward Baker was born in 1846 and died in February, 1850. William Wallace, the third son, was born in December 1850, named for the physician who had attended Eddie. Abe had finished his one term in congress and his law practice was fairly well established in Springfield and by the time the fourth son, Thomas “Tad”, was born early in 1853, Abe had become a much more attentive father. The two younger boys would be frequent visitors to Abe’s law office and it is said they were given free reign, often using the furniture as a fort and whooping it up as boys that age will do. When the Lincolns moved to Washington, Robert was in his late teens and it was not long after that he left for the White House for Harvard. Meanwhile, Washington society and the nation (the North at least) doted on the two young Lincoln boys who apparently were given the run of the White House as they had the law office. However, much of the joy came to an end in 1862 when Willie died, probably from Typhoid. Tad was devastated by Willie’s death and then just over two years later suffered the death of his father.
Tad died in 1871 at age 18, possibly from Tuberculosis. Following his graduation from Harvard Robert was commissioned a Captain and served under Grant. He passed the bar and built a successful career, avoiding politics until 1881 when he served as Secretary of War until 1885 and from 1889 to 1893 as Ambassador to the UK. He spent most of his time in Vermont where his home, Hildreth, is preserved. Robert died in 1926, and the last of the Lincoln line died in 1984. (Submitted by Patsy Sproatt. Photo courtesy Steve Kweskin)