December 21, 2014

A Tenuous Connection To Abraham Lincoln

caswell-massey-picture

Abraham Lincoln

When we were little kids in grade school each year we would dutifully make profile pictures of Abe Lincoln and proudly take them home to Mom and Dad. It never occurred to me that many years later I would be researching my husband’s family tree and find that there was a “kissin’ cousin” connection to the great man.

I should say, my husband is not directly related to Lincoln, but one of his DeSpain cousins was married into the Hanks family. Here’s how the connection happened:

Descendants of Andrew Jackson Hanks (brother to Nancy Hanks, Lincoln’s mother)

1      [1] HANKS, Andrew Jackson  Source1: 1870 United States Federal Census, Source2: 1880 United States Federal Census, Source3: 1860 United States Federal Census, Source4: 1850 United States Federal Census    b: 1815 in Grayson, KY
.        +PORTER, Melinda          m: 17 Mar 1837 in Illinois      d: 29 Apr 1856 in Pleasant Grove, Des Moines, IA
2      HANKS, Matilda  Source: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”            d: Aft. 1932 in Clovis, Fresno, CA
.        +CARTER, John
2      HANKS, Caroline
.        +HAWKS, William
2      HANKS, Elizabeth              d: 1927
.        +MCNEIL, Jerimiah (Jim)      b: 1838    m: Abt. 1866      d: 1919 in New London, Des Moines County, IA
2      HANKS, Mary Ann
.        +SHEPHERD, A.C.              d: Abt. 1864 in Civil War
2      HANKS, Melinda
.        +EVANS, Milton
2      HANKS, Celia
.        +MATTHEWS, G. W.
2      HANKS, Charles  Source: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”    b: 1841        d: 1937
.        +CARPENTER, Eliza Jane              d: 1914
2      HANKS, Nancy  Source: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”    b: 05 Jul 1848 in Pleasant Grove, Des Moines, IA        d: 04 Jul 1932 in New London, Des Moines, IA  src: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”
.        +DESPAIN, Newton  Source: 1880 United States Federal Census    b: 18 Feb 1851 in Louisville, Jefferson, KY    m: 29 Apr 1869 in New London, Des Moines, IA      d: 08 Mar 1915 in New London, Des Moines, IA
2      HANKS, William Henry  Source: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”    b: 1854 in New London, Des Moines, IA        d: 1933 in New London, Des Moines, IA
.        +MCCUNE, Harriet      b: 1855        d: 1946
*2nd Wife of [1] HANKS, Andrew Jackson:
.        +ROWE, Sophia      b: in New Jersey    m: Aft. 1838      d: 27 Aug 1879 in Pleasant Grove, Des Moines, IA
*3rd Wife of [1] HANKS, Andrew Jackson:
.        +MORAND, Milcah Gardiner          m: 07 Jan 1881

My husband’s connection to Lincoln and the DeSpains:

(1) John DeSpain and Mariah Perkins were parents of

(2) *Mary Elizabeth DeSpain who married **John W. Whittmore 05 Nov 1865

(2) Newton DeSpain who married Nancy Hanks 29 April 1869

*there were other siblings

** John W. Whittmore was a Medal of Honor Recipient in the Civil War

Mary Elizabeth and John Whitmore’s daughter

(3) Mariah M. Whitmore married William Henry Wilkerson 11 March 1896 at Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa

Mariah and William Wilkerson were parents of

(4) Wesley L. Wilkerson who married Amanda Bean 17 November 1923 at Nashua, Iowa

Wesley and Amanda were parents of

Loren Wilkerson, father of my husband Jim

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caswell-massey-picture

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The Home Friend 1909

In the late 1980’s my husband and I owned an old house here in Port Orchard, Washington. It was in dire need of repair, and at one time we were in the process of tearing down a wall separating two rooms on the first floor. As we got one side of the wall boards off my husband noticed a rolled up paper inside which revealed itself to be an old ‘magazine’ called The Home Friend. I have toted that old magazine around for all these years, and just before Christmas I took it to a copier and had the pages scanned, printed and put on disk.  It is now 100 years later and I thought it would be fun to share some of the articles and advertisements contained in that homemade time capsule.  Be looking for them in future posts here on iPentimento. In the mean time, I leave you with one of the articles as a small tribute to the memory of Abraham Lincoln.

gettysburg-address

Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd – Part 2

Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd – Part 2
Part 2: (continued from Part 1 )

When we left Iowa in 1995 it would be two years before we would return again. In the mean time though, I got right on the trail of John Whitmore since Mr. Stucker had given us a copy of a letter from the Medal of Honor Society. The contact information on the letter was somewhat out of date, but I was able to get in touch with the then current representative for the society. Their reason for wanting to contact living family members was to get permission to put a new government supplied headstone on John Whitmore’s grave denoting his status as a Medal of Honor recipient.

Medal of Honor circa 1860’s era

After some false starts (the original stone was broken during shipping) we had our ceremony planned for May of 1997. As it turned out, the family members were there, along with a re-enactment group from Burlington, Iowa, and the local historical society representatives, but the actual stone (again) was delayed in transit and so we had a mockup of what the stone would say. I did not attend the ceremony, so it wasn’t until later that I noticed that the MOH Society man I had been working with had put the wrong death date on John’s marker. His read 1918, when it should have been 1913. Not like you can “white out” anything on a headstone!

John W. Whitmore, headstone at Pleasant Grove, IA

It was during the planning stages of John’s MOH ceremony that our family genealogy quest put us in touch with another cousin who had a letter written to John Whitmore in 1914, that led us to L. Frank Boyd, another illustrious member of the family. (to be continued)

Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd – Part 3


As I stated in Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd – Part 2 our genealogy research led us to L. Frank Boyd, my husband’s 1st cousin, four times removed. Jim’s cousin Trish gave us copies of records that she had about Louis, which included a letter written by him in 1914 to Jim and Trish’s shared ancestor, John Whitmore.

~~~~~~

Louis Frank Boyd was born 23 May 1859 in Keokuck, Iowa to parents Rebecca (Miller) and Jacob Mackley Boyd. At the age of 18 months, Louis’ mother Rebecca died and he was sent to live with his aunt in Illinois. At the age of thirteen, Louis went to live with his father who had a homestead where Baker City, Oregon now stands.

Louis Boyd was educated at the Baker City Academy and Willamette University, and subsequently learned the trade of printer. After completing his education, Louis moved to Walla Walla, Washington where he began working in the office of the Walla Walla Watchman, and after a short length of time became part owner in that publication. Afterwards, he started the Sunday Epigram and was its editor and manager for sometime. While at Walla Walla, he joined the state militia and was a member of Battery A where he was elected Second Lieutenant.

In May, 1887, he moved to Colfax and edited the Palouse [pronounced PA-Loose] Gazette until November of that year when he went to Olympia, Washington and was elected enrolling clerk of the state senate for that session. In October, 1888, he went to Spokane to accept a position as a reporter on the Review, but before the year had passed he became city editor, a situation he retained for many years.

In 1892 Louis received from Washington Governor Ferry an appointment on his staff as lieutenant colonel, a rank that he held for four years. He was always referred to as Col. Boyd thereafter.

In 1896, he was elected Spokane city clerk, a position he held for many years, as written in his biography in the Illustrated History of Spokane County, Washington; Lever, 1900. Also in 1896 he became inspector of rifle practice in the First Cavalry Battalion. During his time in the battalion he became a tireless student of military tactics.

Louis Frank Boyd, Washington State Representative, 1914 Spokane

L. Frank Boyd introduces legislation for WA voters to register at polls 1914

It is a sad note that apparently Frank was never able to speak to his first cousin John Whitmore again in this lifetime. As I noted in my biography of John, he died in 1913, so his visit to see Frank was no doubt disappointing to them both. As you can read in his letter, Frank was sick when John came to visit and may not have remembered much about it at all. Click on the thumbnail to see the image full-sized.

L. Frank Boyd letter written 1914 to his cousin John Whitmore

Even though there was a difference in ages, Frank born in 1859, and John born in 1844, it is likely that John shared his Civil War experiences with Frank, and therefore it might have been one of the reasons for his intense interest in military tactics. As you remember, John was a Medal of Honor recipient in that war, and no doubt his capturing a flag from the Confederate side at Ft. Blakely, Alabama during a battle, was surely something Frank admired about his cousin.

Portions of this article were extracted from Louis Frank Boyd’s biography in the Illustrated History of Spokane County, Washington; Lever, 1900; page 420. I would be happy to provide any documentation that is in my possession to anyone researching these families. Please ask permission to reprint or use this article.

© CJW 2008

20% Discount at Footnote in May

I am a subscriber to Footnote, as well as an affiliate. I don’t make a living as an affiliate for anyone, but if someone signs up through my link, of course, I benefit. This month Footnote is offering a 20% discount, which might be of interest to any genealogist. Click on the banner below to join today. Thanks very much if you do. No harm, no foul if you don’t. ;-)


Today, I found an image on Footnote for my husband’s GG-Grandfather John Whitmore who was a Medal of Honor recipient during the Civil War. It is additional documentation that proves that John received a pension from the government.

The reason John’s medal was so unusual is that most often it was given to officers and not Privates. He must have done something beyond amazing to have been given such an honor. John served with the 119th Illinois Infantry in Company F. About 10 years ago a new headstone was placed on his grave in Des Moines County, Iowa to acknowledge his honor and service during the war. The headstone was given to the family to place on his grave by the Veteran’s Administration.

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