Curated Groupings

Women of the Lincoln Family: Generations of Women in the Lincoln Family

Abraham Lincoln's father Thomas Lincoln married Nancy Hanks in a log cabin in Kentucky in the summer of 1806. She died when Abraham was nine years old. Following Nancy's death, Thomas married Sarah Bush Johnston. Sarah raised Abraham from age ten and encouraged his interest in education. He made a last visit to see her before leaving for Washington, D.C., in 1861. Lincoln's sister Sarah Lincoln Grigsby died in childbirth in 1828.

Mary Todd Lincoln was the daughter of a wealthy Kentucky man. Due to her schooling and natural disposition, Mary was regarded as witty and gregarious and was interested in politics. Once Mary moved in with her sister in Illinois, she caught the eye of a tall lanky lawyer from Kentucky and went on to marry him on November 4, 1842. Mary and Abraham had 4 children: Robert, Edward "Eddy," William "Willie," and Thomas "Tad." Ever the mother and supporter, Mary cared for her children as her husband grew in his political ambitions. Mary went on to mourn the death of each of them, save her oldest son, Robert, who lived to adulthood.

In 1864, teenaged Robert Todd Lincoln, with his mother's consent, began to court Mary Harlan, a young, well-educated daughter of an Iowa senator. With the assassination of the president, Robert's father, their marriage was delayed until 1868. Robert and Mary had three children: Mary "Mamie," Abraham Lincoln II "Jack," and Jessie. Mary was faced with heartache when, in 1890, Jack died. She was diligent about remaining out of the public eye.

Robert's daughters Mary "Mamie" Lincoln and Jessie Lincoln were often described as "bright, natural, and unpretentious." Mamie was often referred to as Mary Todd Lincoln's favorite grandchild, though it is unclear whether Mamie's name is in honor of her grandmother or her mother. Twenty-one-year-old Mamie Lincoln married Charles Isham on September 2, 1891, in the Church of the Holy Trinity near London and in the following year gave birth to her only child, Lincoln Isham.

Jessie Lincoln married Warren Wallace Beckwith in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in November 1897, much to her father's dismay. Robert bitterly opposed the match. Jessie and Warren had two children: Mary "Peggy" and Robert Todd Lincoln (after her father). In 1907 Jessie divorced Warren and went on to marry two more times.

The last woman in the Lincoln family was Mary "Peggy" Beckwith. One of the three great-grandchildren of Abraham Lincoln, Peggy was born in Iowa in 1898 and grew up on the family estate, Hildene, in Vermont. She owned three airplanes and operated a 1,000-acre dairy farm as well. Peggy became an eccentric recluse in her later life. She never married or had children and continued to live her life privately, focusing on the farm as well as the local art scene. With Peggy's death in 1975, there were no more female direct descendants from the Lincoln line. Peggy's brother, Robert, would die in 1985 ending the Lincoln family line entirely.