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Full Version: Abe Lincoln and His Ancestors by Ida Tarbell
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This is a re-publication of her book from 1924 originally titled "In the Footsteps of the Lincolns" That is available in Internet Archive.

Not counting his parents, less than 20% of the book deals with his ancestors going as far back as 1637. Most of that was about his father's side of the family. That 20% was more interesting than I thought it would be.

Miss Tarbel actually traveled to New England, rural Virginia & Kentucky, tracing and researching his family. Not an easy task for a woman and with challenging travel conditions 100 years ago.

It's an interesting, well written book with enough new information that will keep you reading. No matter how much you know about Lincoln, you will find something new here.

There were several interesting items in this book, moving to Indiana when he was growing up, the influence of the local church, Lincoln's introduction to law, examples of Lincoln's kindness, a chapter about Ann Rutledge, popular music of the times, negative press towards Lincoln, and comments on a few books she references incuding Henry Rankin's recollections of Abraham, Edwin Earle Sparks on the Lincoln Douglas debates of 1858, and Joseph Fort Newton's book on Lincoln and Herndon. The book does not cover the Civil War years.

We know a little more about Lincoln that we did 100 years ago, but this is still a good book about Lincoln prior to his presidency. Miss Tarbell wrote her book before the infamous Wilma Francis Minor letters.

To keep this short, I'll add a few more comments in a few more days.
An older, but still a good addition to your Lincoln library.
I have to agree with Gene on this. I've always felt this was Tarbell's most mature interpretation of Lincoln, and in spite of its age I think it still holds up well. To be sure, as Gene notes, we know far more about Lincoln than Tarbell and her contemporaries did at the time, but she rarely let herself get ahead of the facts (a notable exception, of course, was Wilma Minor).

Tarbell started the book as a series of articles that appeared nationwide at the beginning of the 1920s and then turned those into the book In the Footsteps of the Lincolns. As Gene notes, she traveled throughout much of the country retracing the Lincoln family's journey from Hingham, Mass., to Springfield. One of the many projects I would like to do, but never seem to have the discipline to do, would be to collect Tarbell's articles on Lincoln that weren't turned into books as well as her most pertinent speeches on him. Maybe some day.

One of the interesting things in the Tarbell book had to do with the Lincoln family's move to Indiana from KY.
I had the impression that once they made it to Indiana, they basically had to cut their own path or road from where they landed

'Two days, at the very least, it must have taken to reach the knoll which the father had selected several weeks earlier; no road
whatever existed, and only a trail, Blazed out part of the way By a Man By the [name] of Jesse Hoskins,' served to guide
them. *The Ballance of the way . . . Lincoln had to Cut his way,' writes Dennis Hanks. So Thomas felled trees, cut underbrush and vines and made openings through which the oxen could drag the sled or wagon forward. Over stumps and rocks, across gullies, bogs, mounds, and soggy ground, they crept on- ward and, finally, reached the spot 'Rite in the Brush,' where Abraham Lincoln was to spend the next fourteen years."
(Abe Lincoln in Indiana by Albert Beverage, p.13 Dennis Hanks to William Herndon in 1866)

Well maybe, and maybe not. This is what Ida Tarbell has to say
"A more picturesque and entertaining story-teller could not
have been found than Dennis Hanks, and his satisfaction in
having a fresh audience in Mr. Herndon is evident in all the
testimony of which we have notes, either in his or in Mr.
Herndon's hand. He delighted in remembering things as long as anybody would listen to him, and his own opinion of
the value of his recollections was magnificent.
(page 85)

"The country through which they
traveled was not a jungle, as it has often been described.
Southwestern Indiana had long been the home of Indian
tribes and there were cleared spaces left by them. The forests
had been kept largely free of underbrush by occasional prairie
fires; that is, it was a fairly open land; there were trails, too, and the beginning of roads. Thomas Lincoln was by no means the first settler in this part of Indiana."

(page 118)

On pages 120-121 is a interesting account of their first home in Indiana, the half face camp.

Hope to visit the Lincoln Boyhood National Park this spring and hopefully one of the park rangers can share their views.
I agree with Rob and Gene. "In the Footsteps of Lincoln" is a really interesting and informative book about Lincoln's ancestors.
Gene, what was the popular music of that time?
Great question.

The info is on the bottom of page 307-308

Now, it happened that this was court week in Decatur, and as the discussion of what to do with the piano was going on, the court adjourned and judge and lawyers began to join the crowd that had gathered around the wagon. There was a piano in the box, they were told. We want it unloaded. Who will lend a hand?
"A tall gentleman stepped forward," Mrs. Johns writes, ''and throwing off a big gray Scotch shawl, exclaimed, 'Come on, Swett, you are the next biggest man.'
"That was my first meeting with Abraham Lincoln."
Mr. Lincoln took charge at once; bench and bar fell to, and amid great hilarity the instrument was unloaded, un-packed and finally set up. That night, after supper, the whole bar, Judge Davis included, asked Mrs. Johns for a concert. She gives in her captivating "Recollections" the program — a charming echo from the past:

"For show pieces, I played the 'Battle of Prague' and the 'Carnival of Venice,' then
followed with 'Washington's March,' 'Come, Haste to the Wedding' and Woodup
Quick Step,' to convince the audience that I 'did know a tune' or two. For tragedy
I sang Henry Russel's 'Maniac,' and 'The Ship on Fire,' and then made 'their blood
run cold' with the wild wail of the 'Irish Mother's Lament.' For comic, we sang 'The
Widdy McGee' and T Won't Be a Nun,' topping off with 'Old Dan Tucker,' 'Lucy
Long' and 'Jim Crow,' the crowd joining in the chorus. These were followed by
more serious music. Mr. Brown and Mr. Swett joined me in the duet 'Moonlight
Music, Love and Flowers,' 'Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep,' 'Pilgrim Fathers/
Bonaparte's Grave' and 'Kathleen Mavourneen.' Each and all met with applause.
"As a finale, I sang 'He Doeth All Things Well,' after which Mr. Lincoln, in a very
grave manner, thanked me for the evening's enter- tainment, and said: 'Don't let
us spoil that song by any other music tonight.' Many times afterwards I sang that
song for Mr. Lincoln and for Governor Oglesby, with whom it was also a

A few of these are old Irish songs, and all of the songs mentioned are over 150 years old, so the music and lyrics are frequently very different from a modern version
Here is a sampling of some of the song listed above
Battle of Prague -

Carnival of Venice -

Washington's March -

Come Haste To The Wedding - An Irish song, with fiddle & flute

Woodup Quick Step -
A few more - Can't say I liked these first ones

Maniac by Henry Russel.
the song -

The Ship On Fire by Henry Russel

Irish Mother's Lament
Unable to find the actual song on Youtube, but here is a site with words and music
The intro to the song "She cursed her sons for disobeying her orders, and they drowned that night on the lake. She prepared supper for them, but when she saw the ghost of her children at the table, she died mad, singing the following Irish Keen"

and this...from The Golden Treasury of Irish Songs and Music

I Won't Be a Nun
Lyrics -
Tune -

Old Dan Tucker - several versions to this one
(01-16-2021 02:56 PM)Gene C Wrote: [ -> ]Old Dan Tucker - several versions to this one

And here's Old Dan Tucker by The Boss.
(01-16-2021 05:26 PM)RJNorton Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-16-2021 02:56 PM)Gene C Wrote: [ -> ]Old Dan Tucker - several versions to this one

And here's Old Dan Tucker by The Boss.
For those who might care for a more rustic version of "Old Dan Tucker" here's Abby the Spoon Lady and the Tater Boys. Check the bass player.
(01-08-2021 09:04 AM)Gene C Wrote: [ -> ]Great question.

The info is on the bottom of page 307-308

"As a finale, I sang 'He Doeth All Things Well,' after which Mr. Lincoln, in a very
grave manner, thanked me for the evening's entertainment, and said: 'Don't let
us spoil that song by any other music tonight.' Many times afterwards I sang that
song for Mr. Lincoln and for Governor Oglesby, with whom it was also a

Continuing on page 308:

There is another paragraph in Mrs. Johns' "Recollections" which should be quoted in this connection. It is a point which needs frequent emphasizing to counteract that caricaturing of Mr. Lincoln's personal appearance which has been going on ever since he became a candidate for the Presidency — a caricaturing which a multitude of photographs, from 1848 on, contradict:

"When I first knew Lincoln," Mrs. Johns says, "the ungainliness of the pioneer, if he ever had it, had worn off and his manner was that of a gentleman of the old school, unaffected, unostentatious, who 'arose at once when a lady entered the room, and whose courtly manners would put to shame the easy-going indifference to etiquette which marks the twentieth century gentleman."

Senator Joe Blackburn of Kentucky used to tell a story, less familiar than many of the kind. He was very young, and for the first time was appearing in the United States Circuit Court in Chicago. The opposing counsel was Isaac N. Arnold, one of the most distinguished men of the Chicago bar and a friend of Mr. Lincoln. When the case was reached Blackburn was so nervous that he became bewildered and made only a very feeble effort.

"I was about to sit down," his story goes, "and let the case go by default, as it were, when a tall, homely, loose-jointed man sitting in the bar, whom I had noticed as giving close attention to the case, arose and addressed the court in behalf of the position I had assumed in my feeble argument, making the points so clear that when he closed the court at once sustained my demurrer. I didn't know who my volunteer friend was, but Mr. Arnold got up and attempted to rebuke him for interfering in the matter, when I for the first time heard that he was Abraham Lincoln, of Springfield. Mr. Lincoln, in his good-natured reply to Mr. Arnold's strictures on his interference, said that he claimed the privilege of giving a young lawyer a boost when struggling with his first case, especially if he was pitted against an experienced practitioner. Of course I thanked him and departed from the court as proud as a young field marshal.

I never saw Mr. Lincoln again, and he died without ever knowing who the young, struggling lawyer was he had so kindly assisted and rescued from defeat in his maiden effort before a United States tribunal.

Ida Tarbell book at pages 311-312.

Incidentally, I remember reading this same story in the book by Emanuel Hertz, Lincoln Talks, A Biography in Anecdote, at pages 49-50. This version was more extensive. The first two paragraphs read as follows:

When I was nineteen years of age I located in Chicago, and commenced the practice of law. One of my first cases was in the United States Court. The opposing counsel was Isaac N. Arnold, then at the head of the Chicago bar. I had filed a demurrer to Mr. Arnold's pleadings in the cause, and when the case was reached on the calendar I was quite nervous at having such a formidable and experienced antagonist, while the dignity of the tribunal and presence of a large number of lawyers in the court all aided to increase my timidity and embarrassment. I was young, inexperienced, and naturally diffident and nervous; in fact, I was willing that any disposition should be made of the case, so I could get rid of it. I was ready to adopt any suggestion of the opposing counsel which would relieve me from my embarrassing situation. Mr. Arnold made an argument in which he criticized my demurrer in a manner that greatly tended to increase my confusion.

However, I had to make an effort. I said but little, and that in a very bewildered manner, and was about ready to sit down and let the case go by default, as it were, when . . . [the Ida Tarbell recounting of the same story continues from there].

So, in short, I would have to say that I prefer Emanuel Hertz's much fuller version of the same story.
Thanks David,

More songs

Lucy Long - this was one of the most popular minstrel songs of the period. Warning - Some may find the lyrics offensive.

Jim Crow - another popular minstrel song

Moonlight, Music, Love and Flowers - all I could find was the old sheet music

Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep
Final installment of songs - Some of them are melancholy

Bonaparte's Grave also known as Grave of Bonaparte, at least I think so. The song posted was written in this version published in 1843
Lyrics -

Kathleen Mavourneen w/lyrics -

He Doeth All Things Well - sheet music and lyrics

more details about other topics in this book to follow......maybe
Another section of the book I found interesting had to do with the local church in Indiana. It's only about 4 pages

She ends this section with the following comment ...
"Abraham Lincoln never joined Pigeon Church. Its peculiar ceremonies made little or no impression upon him; but that he pondered deeply the articles of faith, and the in- terpretation given them by those he heard in the pulpit, and in the constant discussion of them that went on at his own and neighboring firesides, is certain. It is certain, too, that out of this pondering there came a deep reverence for the spirit of Christianity and a code of conduct for his relations with men and women as nearly in accord with the spirit of the Gospels, as high, as noble, as generous as that which has regulated the life of any man in the public life of this or any other country."
It is interesting, thanks for bringing it to my attention Gene. Lincoln's religious upbringing is something I'm interested in but seems to be ignored by some writers.
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