Van Boskirk with an "O"!
Chapter 6: Richard's Daughter,
Hannah Van Boskirk Lincoln
by Roger E. Bissell
version 1.0 (posted June 2000)


1. Introduction.

2. The Lincoln connection.

3. Hannah's husband and children.

4. Richard Van Boskirk Lincoln and his descendants.

5. Rachel Thompson Van Boskirk Knight and her descendants.

6. Catherine Elizabeth Lincoln Halfpenny and her descendants.

1. Introduction

Hannah Van Boskirk, the younger and only surviving daughter of Richard and Hannah (Kelly) Van Boskirk, was born March 20, 1801 in Mifflinburg, Union County, Pennsylvania and died March 20, 1880 near Swengel, Lewis Township, Union County, Pennsylvania. She married on June 3, 1819 to John Lincoln. He was born January (or June) 20, 1782 in Berks County, Pennsylvania and died August 19, 1862 at Laurelton, Union County, Pennsylvania.

John Lincoln was a blood relative of the President. By piecing together details from Waldo Lincoln's Lincoln Genealogy, as well as passages from Charles M. Snyder's Union County, Pennsylvania (1976), Higby's History of the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys, as well as Commemorative Biographical Record of Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, we can get a good picture of John Lincoln's family background. 

2. The Lincoln Connection

The Lincolns originated in Lincolnshire, England. The ancient Latin name for the city and county of Lincoln was Lindum Colonia. Through abbreviation, it eventually became shortened to Lin Colon or Lincoln. The Lincoln surname was quite common in England long before Colonial days.

About 1637, eight men came from Hingham, Lincolnshire to Hingham, Massachusetts. Three of them were brothers, the others their first and second cousins. One of the brothers, Samuel Lincoln (1619-1727), had eleven children, including four sons -- Samuel, Daniel, Mordecai, and Thomas -- who had families.

Mordecai Lincoln was born June 14, 1657 and died November 8, 1727. He first married Sarah Jones, daughter of Abraham and Sarah (Whitman) Jones, and married second Mary Gannett, widow, of Scituate, Massachusetts. He had four sons: Abraham, Mordecai, Isaac, and Jacob, and two daughters.

Mordecai Lincoln Jr. was born April 24, 1686 and died in 1736. He moved from Hingham to Monmouth, New Jersey, where he married Hannah Bowne Salter, daughter of Richard and Sarah (Bowne) Salter of Freehod, New Jersey. She died in 1717. About 1720, Mordecai Jr. moved to Amity Township, Philadelphia County (now Exeter Township, Berks County), Pennsylvania, where he married again. He had one son and four daughters by his first marriage and three sons by his second. His sons were John, Mordecai, Thomas, and Abraham.

Mordecai Jr. was the common ancestor of the President's family and of the John Lincoln who married Hannah Van Boskirk. He was the President's great-grandfather and John's grandfather. John and Hannah's son, Richard Van Boskirk Lincoln, was a noted historian of his day. He wrote President Lincoln in an effort to clarify how they were related. Here is the text of the President's reply:

Springfield, Ill.
Apr. 6 1860

Richard V. B. Lincoln Esq.

My Dear Sir,--Owing to absence from home, yours of March 19th was not received till yesterday. You are a little mistaken. My grandfather did not go from Berks County, Pa, as I learn, his ancestors did, some time before his birth. He was born in Rockingham County, Va; went from there to Kentucky, and was killed by Indians about 1784. That the family originally came from Berks county I learned a dozen years ago, by letter, from one of them, then residing at Sparta, Rockingham County, Va. His name was David Lincoln. I remember, long ago, seeing Austin Lincoln and Davis Lincoln, said to be sons of Ananiah or Hananiah Lincoln, who was said to have been a cousin of my grandfather. I have no doubt you and I are distantly related. I should think, from what you say, that your and my fathers were second cousins. I shall be very glad to hear from you at any time. Yours very truly,

"A. Lincoln"

The President had it exactly correct: their fathers were second cousins -- and, as a consequence, the President and R. V. B. Lincoln were third cousiins. Thus, the title for this chapter: "Almost-Cousins to President Lincoln." The key word, of course, is "almost."

For those who are interested in how it all works out, R. V. B. Lincoln and the President had the same great-great-grandfather, Mordecai Lincoln Jr. -- while R. V. B. Lincoln's grandfather, Richard Van Boskirk, was my great-great-great-great(4)-grandfather. In othr words, R. V. B. Lincoln, being my great-great-grandmother Sarah Van Boskirk Bissell's first cousin, was my first cousin four times removed!

The line to President Lincoln begins from Mordecai Lincoln Jr.'s son John, who was born in New Jersey. He sold the New Jersey land willed to him by his father and bought a farm near Birdsboro, Berks County, Pennsylvania, where he lived until by 1760, when he sold out and moved to Rockingham County, Virginia. He had five sons named John, Thomas, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as some daughters.

John Lincoln's son Abraham was the President's grandfather. In 1780, Abraham Lincoln sold out and moved to Jefferson County, Kentucky, where he bought 1700 acres of land. Shot to death by an Indian in 1784, he left three sons: Mordecai, Josiah, and Thomas, and two daughters: Mary and Nancy. The youngest son, Thomas Lincoln -- the President's father -- was born in 1778 in North Carolina and died in 1851 in Macon County, Illinois. On June 12, 1806, he married Nancy Hanks, with whom he had three children -- two sons: Abraham (the President) and Thomas (who died in infancy), and a daughter, Sarah, who married Aaron Grigsby.

The line to John Lincoln who married Hannah Van Boskirk begins from Mordecai Lincoln Jr.'s son Thomas, who was the second sheriff of Berks County, Pennsylvania. Thomas married Elizabeth Davis and lived at Reading, Pennsylvania. Thomas and Elizabeth had two sons, Hananiah and Mishael, and one daughter, Sarah. Hananiah was a Lieutenant in the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line, and he moved to Daniel Boone's settlement in Kentucky after the war.

Their other son, Mishael, born November 9, 1761 at Reading, was also a soldier in the Revolution. He was part of General Sullivan's expedition sent out against the Indians in southern New York to revenge the infamous massacre of Wyoming, which took place in July of 1778. (See chapter in regard to the Inman family's tragic losses and our ancestor Richard Inman's heroism during that battle.) He was also at Fort Freeland on the West Branch of the Susquehanna in 1779, becoming familiar enough with the vicinity that he eventually decided to locate there permanently. First, however, he settled briefly (about 1780) at Bellefonte, Center County, Pennsylvania.

Probably about 1781, Mishael Lincoln married Rachel Thompson of Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, who was born October 24, 1760, supposedly near Mifflinburg. Her parents are not known, but we presume she was a sister (or first cousin?) of Benjamin Thompson (born about 1765) of Mifflinburg, whose daughter Rachel married Richard Van Boskirk's son John. (See previous section.) In 1783, when their oldest child was a year old, they moved to a large tract of land in Buffalo Valley, Union County, Pennsylvania, about one mile east of Mifflinburg. Because this is also precisely where Benjamin Thompson's land was located, it is all the more likely that Rachel and Benjamin were closely related -- probably brother and sister. Their father may be James Thompson, a Revolutionary War veteran and native of Berks County, who was a pioneer settler of Buffalo Valley.

Mishael engaged in farming and served as county commissioner for Union County from 1817 to 1820. Rachel died June 28, 1848 and Mishael died August 11, 1849, both near Laurelton, Hartley Township, Union County. They are buried in the Lewis graveyard in Limestone Township. Mishael and Rachel had at least four children (including a daughter born before 1790, who apparently died young), but only the following three have been identified:

(1) John Lincoln, born January (June?) 30, 1782; lived in Union County, Pennsylvania, had three children.

(2) Thomas Lincoln, born November 1, 1795, lived in Pickaway County, Pennsylvania, had four children.

(3) Sarah Lincoln, born December 30, 1796, lived in Union County, Pennsylvania, had five children.

The above-mentioned Sarah Lincoln married Michael Roush of Mifflinburg. One of their daughters, Margaret, married John Haus/Haas, and they were party with John Van Boskirk to a challenge of Catherine Van Boskirk's will in 1836.

3. Hannah's husband and children

John Lincoln, the eldest son of Mishael and Rachel (Thompson) Lincoln, was born January (or June?) 20, 1782 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. When he was a year old, his parents relocated in Buffalo Valley in Union County about one mile east of Mifflinburg. While he was growiing up there, he attended the "subscription" schools at Mifflinburg that were the vogue in those days.

John became a farmer and, after marrying Hannah Van Boskirk in 1819, they lived on a farm about three miles southeast of Mifflinburg. In 1826, his father-in-law, Richard Van Boskirk, gave him a farm in Hartley Township, on which they lived until John died in 1862 (after which it was occupied by their grandson, John Lincoln Knight).

The Lincolns were longtime members (nearly 50 years) of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Apparently, they were prominent and devoted members, as well, for they donated land on the north end of their farm for a church building and cemetery. In their honor, the church was named the Lincoln Methodist Episcopal Church, or the "Lincoln Chapel."

John and Hannah had at least three children, whose known descendants are listed in the sections that follow. Logically, the eldest son should have been named Mishael, and there was a three-year gap between their marriage and the birth of their son Richard, so perhaps they had a fourth child who died young. Their three known children were:

(1) Richard Van Boskirk Lincoln (1822-1901). He married Anna M. Pellman, and they had seven children.

(2) Rachel Thompson Lincoln (1825-1875). She married Samuel H. Knight, and they had two children.

(3) Catherine Elizabeth Lincoln (1829-1908). She married William R. Halfpenny, and they had four children.

4. Richard Van Boskirk Lincoln and his descendants

Richard Van Boskirk Lincoln, the only son of John and Hannah (Van Boskirk) Lincoln, was born December 18, 1822 in Buffalo Township, Union County, Pennsylvania and died June 18, 1901 in Mifflinburg. (We will abbreviate his name for the remainder of this section as RVB Lincoln.)

When RVB Lincoln was four years old, his family moved to Hartley Township, where he attended the neighborhood subscription schools when he had the opportunity. When he was nine years old, he was sent to the Mifflinburg Academy. Then, at age 16, he entered the sophomore class at Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he graduated in July of 1841 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, ranking second in a class of 23. He was one of the first teachers in Hartley's schools following the township's acceptance of the Public School Law of 1841, and he served on the county school board for more than 20 years.

In 1845, however, after teaching four terms of three months each, RVB chose to pursue farming. His farm was located on the north side of Penn's Creek below Laurel Park, where he lived until moving to Mifflinburg shortly before his death in 1901. His farm was described by Snyder as "a veritable garden spot, where he applied the latest developments in scientific agriculture." Not surprisingly, he was a founder and officer of the country agricultural society.

Politically, RVB was initially a supporter of the Whig Party, casting his first Presidential vote for Henry Clay. Once the Republican Party formed in 1856, however, he immediately joined and was an active and prominent member ever since. Over a period of 20 years, he served a number of successive terms as justice of the peace, to which office he was first elected in 1851. According to Snyder, even near the turn of the century, after RVB had been out of office for over 25 years, people still called him "Squire" and sought his advice on legal matters.

RVB was elected county commissioner in 1855 and re-elected in 1857. He served as school director for 30 years and filled a number of other township offices, such as assessor, overseer of the poor, etc. He was once the Republican candidate for State Senator from Union County, and was the Republican candidate for his U.S. House district in 1876. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he never solicited or canvassed for votes, instead relying for votes on his solid reputation and standing in the community.

RVB was also a student of literature and a local historian. Snyder remarks that "his essays on Union County remain the most comprehensive and scholarly studies of the nineteenth century."

Tragically -- especially for those of us with ancestors he almost certainly wrote about in detail -- his History of Union County, written in 1900, was never published. As his daughter relates in the Preface to his history of Mifflinburg, "Failing health overtook him before its completion and later the manuscript was lost by the printer and never published in book form."

In his personal life, as Snyder points out, RVB Lincoln:

...exemplified the manners associated with a landlord of the old English countryside. An octogenarian recalls the aging "R.V.B.", as he was called, directing farm operations from the back of a magnificent sorrel gelding. He also remembers that he and his friends enroute to the country school adjacent to the Lincoln farm avoided short cuts across Lincoln's farm rather than risk a scolding from the "grouchy" landlord.

RVB Lincoln married August 18, 1852 to Anna Maria Pellman, who was born May 29, 1831 in Berks County, Pennsylvania and died May 4, 1909 in Mifflinburg. Her parents were Samuel Pellman (son of Conrad Pellman and Mary Kline) and Mary Wolff (daughter of Abraham Wolff and Rebecca Shatz), who had six children: Helen, who married Robert V. Glover; David Wolff; Anna, who married R.V.B. Lincoln; Rebecca, who married James Glover; Lewis Conrad; and Oliver Kline. RVB and Anna had seven children:

(1) John Wesley Lincoln born May 24, 1853 at Millmont, Union County, Pennsylvania, died February 13, 1826 at Mifflinburg. He married October 7, 1880 to Gertrude R. Reed (born September 19, 1856, died July 2, 1945) of Seneca County, Ohio. They had a daughter:

(a) Marie Reed Lincoln born July 19, 1886 at Mifflinburg, died August 4, 1965. She married September 24, 1913 at Lewisburg to Edwin Irland Lawshe (born March 30, 1886, died October 7, 1958). They had a daughter who married William H. Kemp.

(2) Samuel Pellman Lincoln born October 5, 1856, died July 29, 1866.

(3) Mark H. Lincoln, M.D. born September 13, 1860, died November 26, 1898. He graduated in 1885 from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. Mark married April 14, 1886 to Carrie Pearce and practiced medicine in Philadelphia.

(4) Hannah Mary Lincoln born September 7, 1863. She graduated from Dickinson Seminary, Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1884 with a B.S. degree. Hannah married September 7, 1887 to Reverend S. B. Evans of the Methodist Episcopal Church, being stationed at Lock Haven and Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Hannah and Rev. Evans had five children:

(a) Lucille Evans born June 2, 1889.

(b) Vincent Goodsell Evans born July 11, 1890.

(c) Grace Winifred Evans born November 18, 1893.

(d) Marion Gray Evans born November 6, 1895 (twin).

(e) Miriam Gertrude Evans born November 6, 1895 (twin).

(5) Louis Pellman Lincoln born August 8, 1866. He married December 24, 1896 to Celesta J. Albright (born 1869) of Mifflinburg. Louis worked for Carnegie Steel Company at Homestead, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It is not known whether they had children.

(6) Richard Van Boskirk Lincoln, Jr. born April 17, 1871. He graduated from Dickinson College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1895 and from Dickinson School of Law with an LL.B. degree in 1896. He was admitted to the Bar of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in June of 1896 and, in December 1897, to the Bar of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, where he then proceeded to practice law in Shamokin.

(7) Anna Rebecca Lincoln born February 16, 1873. She graduated from Dickinson Seminary in 1893 with a degree of Master of English Literature. She worked in Mifflinburg as a school teacher. In 1938 she published a portion of her father's history of Union County in the form of a pamphlet, History of Mifflinburg, a copy of which was sent to us by Robert K. Strunk, a researcher at the Mifflinburg Library and a former second grade student of Miss Lincoln.

5. Rachel Thompson Lincoln Knight and her descendants

Rachel Thompson Lincoln, the elder daughter of John and Hannah (Van Boskirk) Lincoln, was born January 13, 1825 and died October 17, 1875 near Laurelton, Pennsylvania. She married June 29, 1842 to Samuel H. Knight, M.D., of Hartleton Borough, Union County, Pennsylvania. He was a physician, and he died June 7, 1882 at the age of 65 (thus having been born about 1817). Samuel and Rachel had two children:

(1) Hannah Elizabeth Knight born June 14, 1843 and died January 21, 1860.

(2) John Lincoln Knight born June 7, 1849 and died December 18, 1915. He worked as a music instructor and lived on the farm of his grandfather, John Lincoln, in Hartley Township, Union County, Pennsylvania. He apparently never married or had children.

6. Catherine Elizabeth Lincoln Halfpenny and her descendants

Catherine Elizabeth Lincoln, the younger daughter of John and Hannah (Van Boskirk) Lincoln, was born October 19, 1829 and died in 1908. She was named for her mother's step-mother, Catherine Elizabeth Van Boskirk. Catherine married about 1849 to William R. Halfpenny. He was the son of Mark Halfpenny of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, who worked with his sons James, H. S., John, Mark, and William R. in the woolen industry in the Pennsylvania counties of Northumberland, Columbia, Lycoming, Centre, and Union. From 1841 on, William was a farmer. William and Catherine had three children:

(1)  Mary Hannah Halfpenny born August 10, 1847. She married William E. Smith. They had a daughter:

(a)  Anna Smith. She married Dorsey Miller of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They had two daughters:

(i)    Helen Miller

(ii) Doris Miller. She married Robert Hall. They had three sons, one of whom is the father of our correspondent, Rebecca Hall.

(2) John Lincoln Halfpenny born May 3, 1850 in Buffalo Township, Union County, Pennsylvania. He attended Lewisburg Academy (now Bucknell College), completed his literary course in the Dickinson Seminary at Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He taught school in the winter and farmed in the summer for 10 years, then in 1884 bought a farm and (with A. E. Grove) a grist and saw mill in Lewis Township, engaging in farming and milling. John married about 1881 to Aseneth Knauer (born October 1855), daughter of Samuel Knauer, a miller and (with John Church) owner/operator of the Berlin Iron Works (furnace and forge) in Hartley Township, Union County. John and Aseneth had three children:

(a) Paul E. Halfpenny born October 1, 1882.

(b) Grace Elizabeth Halfpenny born February 13, 1884, died in 1949.

(c) Samuel Lincoln Halfpenny born July 6, 1889, died in 1921.

(3) James Milton Halfpenny born June 6, 1853. He was a prominent mechanic of Lewis Township, Union County, Pennsylvania. James married Sarah J. Knauss (born 1866), a daughter of Daniel Knauss. Apparently they had no children.