Who Was H. I. Lincoln?

Who was H. I. Lincoln, Anyway? by Sue Jacobson, article excerpt from The Lincoln Highway Forum, Fall 1998, Vol. 6, No. 1.

The first owner of the H. I. Lincoln Building in Franklin Grove was Henry Isaac Lincoln, a distant cousin of Abraham Lincoln.  Originally from Lincolnshire, England, H. I. Lincoln’s parents, John Lincoln and Lydia Gifford, moved to Geneseo County, New York.  Henry and his brother Royal Orlando worked as farmers in New York until they both moved together to Illinois in 1849. 

“. . . H. I. and his brother Royal Orlando drove a wagon of nursery stock from Genesco County to Little Rock township, Illinois, near the current towns of Plano and Sandwich.  The brothers paid down all the money they had — $500 — to purchase 244 acres of land . . . The two brothers lived alone for three years, when Royal Orlando purchased Henry’s interest and became the sole possessor of the farm.  Henry and Royal knew and supported Abraham Lincoln, who referred to them as Lincoln cousins.  The two families were distantly related in England.  According to family history, Abe Lincoln once visited the Plano farm and had his picture taken on the porch . . .

After selling out to his brother, H. I. moved to Lee County and opened a general store in Franklin Grove on May 1, 1853.  By the time the H. I. Lincoln Building opened, Henry had been married for three years.  His wife, Mary McFarland, died on October 23, 1854, but not before bearing two sons.  The oldest, John Henry, died young.  His younger brother, Charles Frank, eventually moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma.  H. I. was a widower for only three years before marrying Helen M. Bartholf of Darien, New York, on April 13, 1857.  Of their three children, Hattie and Abraham moved to Kansas, while James Henry stayed in Franklin Grove, serving as the postmaster and a local politician.  H. I. Lincoln bought a home on Hughes Street and operated the general store until 1897.  He also worked as a schoolteacher and farmed on the side. He passed away June 25, 1904, just short of his 82nd birthday, and is buried in the Franklin Grove Cemetery. ”

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