Thomas Lincoln
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Abraham Lincoln


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Abraham Lincoln 2

  • Born: 12 Feb 1809, Buffalo, Hardin County, Kentucky
  • Christened: Indiana, USA
  • Died: 15 Apr 1865, Washington D. C., USA at age 56
  • Buried: 4 May 1865, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois

bullet  General Notes:
T.L. Winslow's Nineteenth (19th) Century Timeline 1800-1899 C.E.

1828 On Jan. 20 Abraham Lincoln's older sister Sarah Grigsby dies in childbirth; he blames it on the Grigsby family and almost fights a duel over the matter.
Events and Dates in 1828

01/20 - Abraham Lincoln's older sister Sarah (Grigsby) died in childbirth. Lincoln seems to have thought she was mistreated or neglected by the Grigsby family in a way that contributed to her death, and, the following year, he wrote the satirical 'Chronicles of Reuben' about the marriage, on the same day, of two Grigsby brothers, including a supposed mix-up of brides and grooms. It is also claimed, in Beveridge, that Lincoln wrote another "repellant rhyme" ridiculing William Grigsby, described as bald-headed and ugly, that this caused Grigsby to have a fight in which he trounced Lincoln's half-brother, John D. Johnston. One version has it that Lincoln broke up the fight, tossing Grigsby "some feet" declaring himself the "big buck of the lick"; another says that Lincoln challenged Grigsby to a fight after he beat up Johnston, and that Grigsby declined a fist fight but offered to fight a duel, but Lincoln would not "fool away his life with one shot", so the matter ended.
By David Herbert Donald

By the time Abraham Lincoln was in his late teens, he was itching to get away from Pigeon Creek. One after another, his ties to home and to the community were snapped. When he was seventeen, his sister, Sarah, married neighbor, Aaron Grigsby, and the couple set up housekeeping several miles from the Lincoln cabin Then Matilda. Sarah Bush Lincoln's youngest daughter, who had been very fond of Abraham, married Squire Hall and also moved away. A year and a half later Sarah Lincoln Grigsby died in childbirth. Abraham blamed the death of his sister on the negligence of the Grigsbys in sending for a doctor, and the ensuing quarrel further alienated him from his Pigeon Creek neighbors.

In the spring of 1829, Lincoln and his little gang pulled off the most imaginative, and longest remembered, of their pranks when two sons of Reuben Grigsby - Reuben, Jr., and Charles - were married. The Lincolns had been carrying on something of a feud with Grigsby family since Sarah's death, and when Abraham was not invited to the wedding celebration, he "felt nulled - insulted." Through a confederate he arranged that when the party was over and the bridegrooms were brought upstairs to their waiting brides, they would be led to the wrong beds. The mix-up was, of course, immediately discovered, but it became the cause of great gossip and much laughter in the Genryville community. Its fame grew because Lincoln wrote out a scurrilous description of the affair, which he entitled "The Chronicles of Reuben" in language supposed to be reminiscent of the Scriptures, he recounted the story and then went on in verse to tell of another Grigsby brother, Billy, who was turned down by the girl he wooed.

You cursed baldhead, My suitor you never can be; Besides, your low crotch proclaims you a butch And that never can answer for me.

Rejected, Billy turned to a male lover, Natty

... he is married to Natty So Billy and Natty agreed very well; And mammas well pleased at the match

Years afterward the doggerel was still remembered in southern Indiana. According to one sender, parts of it were known "better than the Bible - better than Watts hymns."
Identifying Lincoln: Happiness and Sadness in This Great Man's Life

Lincoln's sister was another companion of Lincoln's whose death brought him great grief. During childbirth, she had complications, and Lincoln believed that her husband, Aaron Grigsby, did not do all that he could to save her by calling for a doctor. As a result, Lincoln wrote "The Chronicles of Reuben", a piece that depicts the Grigsby brothers as foolish and dim-witted. Although the piece was humorous and written a year after his sister's death, Lincoln was able to voice his resentment and lasting grief as well as amuse the whole town. This was early in the life of a man who would come to use words more and more to understand the world around him.
His First Satirical Writing

Reuben and Charles Grigsby were married in Spencer county, Indiana, on the same day to Elizabeth Ray and Matilda Hawkins, respectively. They met the next day at the home of Reuben Grigsby, Sr., and held a double infare, to which most of the county was invited, with the exception of the Lincoln's. This Abraham duly resented, and it resulted in his first attempt at satirical writing, which he called "The Chronicles of Reuben."

The manuscript was lost, and not recovered until 1865, when a house belonging to one of the Grigsby's was torn down. In the loft a boy found a roll of musty old papers, and was intently reading them, when he was asked what he was doing.

"Reading a portion of the Scriptures that haven't been revealed yet," was the response. This was Lincoln's "Chronicles," which is herewith given:
"The Chronicles of Reuben."

"Now, there was a man whose name was Reuben, and the same was very great in substance, in horses and cattle and swine, and a very great household.

"It came to pass when the sons of Reuben grew up that they were desirous of taking to themselves wives, and, being too well known as to honor in their own country, they took a journey into a far country and there procured for themselves wives.

"It came to pass also that when they were about to make the return home they sent a messenger before them to bear the tidings to their parents.

"These, inquiring of the messenger what time their sons and wives would come, made a great feast and allied all their kinsmen and neighbors in, and made great preparation.

"When the time drew nigh, they sent out two men to meet the grooms and their brides, with a trumpet to welcome them and to accompany them.

"When they came near unto the house of Reuben, the father, the messenger came before them and gave a shout, and the whole multitude ran out with shouts of joy and music, playing on all kinds of instruments.

"Some were playing on harps, some on viols, and some blowing on ram's horns.

"Some also were casting dust and ashes toward Heaven, and chief among them all was Josiah, blowing his bugle and making sounds so great the neighboring hills and valleys echoed with the resounding acclamation.

"When they had played and their harps had sounded till the grooms and brides approached the gates, Reuben, the father, met them and welcomed them to his house.

"The wedding feast being now ready, they were all invited to sit down and eat, placing the bridegrooms and their brides at each end of the table.

"Waiters were then appointed to serve and wait on the guests. When all had eaten and were full and merry, they went out again and played and sung till night.

"And when they had made an end of feasting and rejoicing the multitude disperse, each gong to his own home.

"The family then took seats with their waiters to converse while preparations were being made in two upper chambers for the brides and grooms.

"This being done, the waiters took the two brides upstairs, placing one in a room at the right hand of the stairs and the other on the left.

"The waiters came down, and Nancy, the mother, then gave directions to the waiters of the bridegrooms, and they took them upstairs, but placed them in the wrong rooms.

"The waiters then all came downstairs.

"But the mother, being fearful of mistake, made inquiry of the waiters, and learning the true facts, took the light and sprang upstairs.

"It came to pass she ran to one of the rooms and exclaimed, 'O Lord, Reuben, you are with the wrong wife.'

"The young men, both alarmed at this, ran out with such violence against each other, they came near knocking each other down.

"The tumult gave evidence to those below that the mistake was certain.
"At last they all came down and had a long conversation about who made the mistake, but it could not be decided.

"So ended the chapter."

The original manuscript of "The Chronicles of Reuben" was last in the possession of Redmond Grigsby, of Rockport, Indiana. A newspaper which had obtained a copy of the "Chronicles," sent a reporter to interview Elizabeth Grigsby, or Aunt Betsy, as she was called, and asked her about the famous manuscript and the mistake made at the double wedding.

"Yes, they did have a joke on us," said Aunt Betsy. "They said my man got into the wrong room and Charles got into my room. But it wasn't so. Lincoln just wrote that for mischief. Abe and my man often laughed about that."

(from Lincoln's Yarns and Stories, by Colonel Alexander K. McClure)
"The first Chronicles of Reuben";
I will tell you a joke about Joel and Mary.
It is neither a joke nor a story,
For Reuben and Charles have married two girls
But Billy has married a boy.
The girls he had tried on every side,
But none could he get to agree.
All was in vain, he wet home again,
And since that he's married to Natty.

So Billy and atty agreed very well,
And mama's well pleased with the match.
Theegg it is laid, but Natty's afraid
The shell is so soft it never will hatch.
But Betsy, she said, "You cursed bald head,
My suitor you never can be,
Besides your ill shape proclaims you an ape,
And that never can answer for me."

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