Henry Isaac Lincoln Building - Franklin Grove
Now the home of the Lincoln Highway Association
Photo courtesy of the Association

Henry Isaac Lincoln, son of John L. and Lydia (Gifford) Lincoln of Genesee County, New York, was born on 16 August, 1822, in Corfu, NY. In 1847 Henry and his brother Royal loaded a wagon with nursery stock and set off for northern Illinois to seek their fortune. As they passed through the area where the City of Chicago would one day be the reigning city of the mid-west, they were offered a good-sized plot of "downtown" land in exchange for the wagon and team. But their thoughts were on farming and the swamp land near the lake held no interest for the brothers.

Proceeding west they eventually reached Kendall County, Illinois, where their paternal uncle, Jedediah Lincoln, had preceeded them. They obtained a farm on the far western edge of Little Rock Twp and set about improving the land. Henry taught school some years, probably at Sandy Bluff School just south of the farm. Henry married Mary McFarland on 28 October 1850 in Kendall County, IL, although she was living nearby in Big Rock, Kane Co, IL. She was born on 3 December 1831 and died on 23 November 1854, possibly as the result of the birth of her second son. Two sons were the issue of this first marriage: John Henry was born in 1852 but passed away in 1856 when he was three; (Charles) Frank was born in 1854. He grew to maturity and married Etta Keiser. Their two sons were John Henry and Arthur Shelby Lincoln.

In 1853, Royal had married a neighborhood girl, Rebecca Cook, and the two home situations apparently encouraged H.I. to decide to move on to Franklin Grove, Lee Co, Illinois, and try his hand at the mercantile business. He built a two-story limestone store building (pictured above) on the Main Street and, for the next fifty years, he served the people of the community. In April of 1857 H.I. married Helen May (Nay) Bartholf. She had been born in Darien, Genesee Co, NY, on 15 April 1828. She passed away on 4 January 1893 in Mound City, Kansas. She was there on a vacation that, it had been hoped, would improve her health. Her body was returned to Franklin Grove for burial there. Henry and Helen May had three children. Hattie McFarland Lincoln was born in 1858 and may have died in 1880. Her marriage to Shelly Keiser in January of 1884. Abraham Lincoln was born in 1860 and lived until 1943. His wife, Elizabeth Williamson, joined him on 22 February 1883. Abraham and his son Harry A. moved to Pleasanton, Kansas, where they opened a mercantile store together. James Henry Lincoln, born in 1862, lived until 1943 also. He was known as an artist in the Franklin Grove community. He married Martha J. Bill on 12 November 1890.

Henry died in late June of 1904 after a life spent as a farmer, a teacher, and a storekeeper. He was a long-time supporter of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was buried in the Cemetery at Franklin Grove. Among those surviving Henry were three siblings: Elizabeth (late Levi) Colby, John (late Achsa) Lincoln, and Helene Louise (Richard R.) Losee, all of Genesee Co, NY. He was also survived by the spouses of several siblings: Harriet Herrick Lincoln, Rebecca Cook Lincoln, William Bullard, John D. Sitts (death date unknown), and Richard R. Losee; numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces, in addition to his own family. He had been predeceased by his parents John and Lydia (Gifford) Lincoln of Genesee Co, NY, and by siblings: Sylvester C. (Harriet) Lincoln of Beloit, WI; Royal Orlando (Rebecca) Lincoln of Plano, Kendall Co, IL; Lurrency (William) Bullard and Amaretta (late Cyrus) Waite, both of Genesee Co, NY; and Evaline (John) Sitts of Franklin Grove, IL.

Written and contributed by Kristy Gravlin
At this time no relationship between Henry Isaac and President Abraham Lincoln has been determined. The Lincoln Highway was the "first" coast to coast "hard road". The folks at Franklin Grove saw an opportunity to both save a slowly falling building, and have a little tourist support. They talked to the Lincoln Highway folks, pointing out to them the virtues of the building, its historic value, even to already being labeled "H.I. Lincoln" in the lintel above the front door. The association took the building from "unsafe" to "back much like it once was" and now are selling local crafts, etc., as well as Lincoln Highway memorabilia.



James H. Lincoln has since 1898 filled the office of postmaster of Franklin Grove and has proven a faithful and efficient incumbent of that position. He is a native son of the community, born December 12, 1862, his parents being Henry and Helen M. (Nay) Lincoln, natives of Genesee county, New York. The father came to Illinois in 1847 and after residing for some time in Kendall county moved in 1852 to Franklin Grove, where he established himself in the mercantile business. In 1860 he built a substantial stone store and for many years thereafter remained one of the leading business men of the community, winning an enviable reputation for integrity and honor in all business and personal relations. In 1896 he retired from active life and his death occurred in 1904, he having survived his wife since 1893.

James H. Lincoln is one of a family of four children. He was reared at home and acquired his education in the public schools of Franklin Grove. After he attained his majority his father admitted him into partnership in the mercantile business and he retained this connection until the enterprise was disposed of in 1896. In 1898 he was appointed by President McKinley, postmaster of Franklin Grove and he has since held this position, which he fills with credit and ability.

On the 12th of November, 1890, Mr. Lincoln was united in marriage to Miss Martha J. Bill, a native of Lee county and a daughter of Charles B. and Catherine (Woodruff) Bill, natives of Ohio, who came to Illinois at an early date, both passing away in this state. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln attend the Methodist Episcopal church and are widely and favorably known in Franklin Grove. Mr. Lincoln owns in addition to his home here the business building, which his father erected in 1860 and one hundred and sixty acres of land in Linn county, Kansas. He is connected fraternally with Grove Camp, No. 45, M.W.A., and has filled all of the chairs in Franklin Grove Lodge, No. 504, K.P. He gives his political allegiance to the republican party. The public trust reposed in him has never been neglected in the slightest degree and his fidelity to honorable, manly principles has ever won for him the good-will and friendship of those with whom he has been brought in contact.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.

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