A Lincoln Link At Last

August 8, 2012 § 3 Comments

Abraham Lincoln dominates the tourist business in Springfield, Illinois, and the best way to lure visitors to a tourist attraction is to establish a Lincoln link. Connections to Abe have eluded the Dana-Thomas House until now. I am pleased to announce that thanks to modern technology, I have discovered a legitimate tie-in.

I received an email from Karen Eslien of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Karen had the good taste to read Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House, and she wanted to tell me how much she enjoyed it. Since she is a direct descendant of a Maxcy (Susan’s mother’s maiden name), Karen asked what I knew about the Maxcy connection to William Herndon, Lincoln’s friend, partner, and biographer. I immediately began to search the Internet and some books and made an amazing discovery. Susan’s great aunt (the youngest sister of her maternal grandfather) was the first wife of William Herndon!

In his book Lincoln’s Herndon, author David Donald said that Mary Jane Maxcy, age 18, married 22 year old William Herndon on March 26,1840. The couple had six children. Mary contracted tuberculosis and died in 1861 at the age of 39. Since Susan was born in 1862, she did not meet her great aunt. Herndon remarried in 1862 and fathered two more children with his second wife Anna.

Susan’s relationship to William Herndon may be old news to some, but it’s a revelation to me and triggers my creative juices. I’m trying to recommend a marketing strategy that uses this information to attract Springfield’s many Lincoln visitors to the Dana-Thomas House. Somehow the slogan “Come see the home of the great niece of Lincoln’s law partner.” doesn’t work. Does anyone else have an idea?


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