Let me start out by saying that I am not writing this post to gloat about my ancestral connection to Abraham Lincoln, but rather to clarify whether any such relationship existed. I will be honest – for most of my adult life, I doubted any such connection existed. For as long as I can remember, my relatives cited some type of relation to Abe Lincoln, yet no one could pinpoint the exact origin of the relationship.
Since receiving the results of my AncestryDNA test (more on that in another post), my interest in the Abe Lincoln connection was renewed. How was I related to “Honest Abe”? Was it all a hoax? After all, the only real evidence of my familial connection to the second president is the below grave stone of Caroline Morton Lincoln Fish, my three times great grandmother. Her grave stone is inscribed “niece of “Abe” Lincoln” and can be found in the Juddville Cemetery in Door County, WI.
And that was it. That was all the evidence we had. I’ve made some attempts in the past to connect the dots – digging through census records online, but failed. Last weekend, however, I was determined to find a connection and finally made some progress in understanding the Anderson family’s connection to Abe.
I began my search starting with what I knew – Caroline Morton Lincoln Fish. Eventually, I found this site which helped me understand a bit about the original Lincolns in the United States, and their connection to me. Through extensive searching on geni.com, it would appear (based on existing records) that I am the 10 times great granddaughter of Thomas “The Miller” Lincoln. Thomas Lincoln was one of the five paternal families who emigrated from Norfolk county England in the 1630’s to Massachusetts. The brothers were:
- Thomas Lincoln, the husbandman (and brother Stephen)
- Sergeant Daniel Lincoln
- Samuel Lincoln (and brothers Thomas and Daniel)
- Thomas Lincoln, the miller
- Thomas Lincoln, the cooper
Abraham Lincoln is the 4 times great grandson of Samuel Lincoln. Now, keep in mind, the census was not a thing in the 1630’s, so it is extremely difficult to know which records are valid. Some people believe all 5 of the original Lincoln families were related, but it is hard to know for certain which of the Lincolds were actually brothers.
If Thomas “the miller” Lincoln and Samuel Lincoln were brothers, that would mean Abe Lincoln and I share a common ancestor – my 11 times great grandfather and his 5 times great grandfather. If this were true, it would make Abe Lincoln my 6th cousin 6 times removed.
However, when I continued my research, it seems that the 5 Lincoln families who emigrated to the Boston area from England were, in fact, genetically distinct. This would mean that Thomas “the miller” and Samuel Lincoln were not brothers after all, though they may have been related. This debunks any possibility that the Anderson family is somehow related to Abraham Lincoln.
Yet, why would Caroline Morton Lincoln Fish be so certain about her relationship to Abe Lincoln that she (or someone in her family) would have it inscribed on her grave stone? This continues to be a mystery… Based on the theory that Thomas “the miller” Lincoln and Samuel Lincoln were brothers, Caroline would have been Abe Lincoln’s 6th cousin once removed. This means that Abe Lincoln was one generation older than Caroline. If she did happen to know Abe Lincoln personally, referring to him as “uncle” might have been colloquially appropriate at the time. It may have also been a term of endearment.
One other possibility is that Caroline Morton Lincoln Fish knew Abe Lincoln through the man who raised her (according to the above photo’s inscription), Governor Marcus Morton of Massachusetts. This is one mystery that may never be solved.
I will note that my AncestryDNA results did not reflect any British ancestry. This alone does not debunk any family connection to Abe Lincoln, since my ancestors from England may have had roots outside of Britain. Also, the AncestryDNA test is not perfect, and does not necessarily reflect DNA connections from the beginning of time (so to speak).
In the end, I may have been unable to prove any true ancestral connection to Abe Lincoln, but one piece of information that does seem valid is my connection to Thomas “the Miller” Lincoln. I may not be genealogically savvy enough to solve the puzzle once and for all, and perhaps we simply do not have enough information. At any rate, one thing is for certain – even if I were Abe Lincoln’s 6th cousin 6 times removed, the connection is so distant that we would have shared .0001875% similar DNA. I’ll let you decide if that is a connection worth noting 🙂