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Historic Pathways: The Lincoln connection

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By Tom Watson

 Abraham Lincoln had a connection to Spencer County that few people know about and although it may seem slight, we’ll take it.

“Honest Abe” had a first cousin and second cousin in the county, who are buried in Saint Benedict Catholic Cemetery near Settler’s Trace Road.

Margaret J. (Lincoln) O’Nan was his first cousin and Jane M. (O’Nan) Campbell was his second cousin. The All Saints Catholic Church in Taylorsville was originally Saint Benedict.

We can do a little back-tracking and explain the Spencer County - Lincoln connection.

President Lincoln’s great grandfather was John Lincoln of Virginia (born 1716; died 1778). He had a son named Abraham (born 1744; died 1786).

This Abraham, the future president’s grandpa, was the father of Thomas Lincoln (born 1778; died 1851. Thomas Lincoln was President Lincoln’s father.

Great grandpa John Lincoln also had a son named Thomas (born 1755; died 1819). Margaret Lincoln, born in 1783, was a daughter of this Thomas Lincoln and married John O’Nan. She died in Oct. 1820.

John and Margaret (Lincoln) O’Nan had a daughter Dec. 15, 1805 they named Jane. She married Robert S. Campbell May 12, 1825. Jane O’Nan Campbell died Aug. 11, 1869.

Our sources say John and Margaret are buried in the same grave at the Saint Benedict Cemetery, four miles east of Taylorsville. Robert Campbell and Jane are also buried there in separate graves. We won’t speculate on why John and Margaret didn’t have separate graves, but sometimes love acts in mysterious ways.

Several years ago, Jane Clark Heist wrote this scribe about the family tree.

“My grandmother was Elizabeth Campbell. She was born at the Campbell family home just south of town (Taylorsville). Elizabeth Campbell married Ivo S. Clark, son of Stephen Clark of Fairfield, Ky. in 1897 and left the area. The farm was bought by the Speed family (and was then bought by the late Thomas and Betty Truax).”

Jane Heist said the Speed-Truax house, actually just southwest of Taylorsville and a short distance from Brashears Creek, was built by her great, great grandfather Robert Campbell about 1840. To continue from the letter:

“Robert inherited the land from his father Charles Campbell of Fayette County. His will, probated in March, 1812, described it as ‘land in Shelby County.’”

Scribe’s note: It was in Shelby County until Spencer’s formation in 1824.

The Heist letter went on to say that family tradition contends that the estate was sold due to the Campbell men’s fondness for race horses. No other details are offered on that issue.

The entire list of burials at Saint Benedict Cemetery may be obtained from the Filson Society in Louisville, which cooperated with the composition of this article.