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Author Topic:   lincoln's fork
tanishalysanderlincoln

Posts: 1
Registered: May 2006

iconnumber posted 05-21-2006 10:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tanishalysanderlincoln     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My name is Tanisha Lincoln. A gentleman came to me with a story about a fork given to him 40 years ago. He said that the fork was given to him by an older lady about 40 years ago. He said that this fork has been in her family for maybe 100 years 103 years and that a waitress had picked up this fork after Lincoln had left it at a table. This was in Kentucky. Around or about 1862 1863. She said that this fork had not changed many hands and this woman was a pretty reliable source. The gentleman gave me this fork saying that it's about time it was returned to the Lincoln family. Now there are not many persons in the U.S. with the last name of Lincoln. The name over the last 100 years has a very tight, trackable family tree. My question is this,,, is it possible that Rogers Brothers furnished even Lincoln's family with their silver? Is it possible to trace this back to him. If so , this is something I would like to have appraised and hand down to my children. With the story mounted in an old fashioned way to remind them of their lineage.

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Tanisha Lysander Lincoln

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4084
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 05-22-2006 12:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, without seeing good pictures of the fork and the mark, there is little we can say about it or its history. As for the story, it is nice, but often heard, almost always with no verifiable facts attached. I can say that the Lincoln name was not uncommon -- there are at least 6 silversmiths with that surname -- dating back to the 1650s in America.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 05-22-2006 12:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tanisha,

That's a very romantic story, and I can see why you would hope it's true. Wouldn't it be thrilling to handle something Abraham Lincoln used?

If it IS true, it will be very hard to prove it. You would have to know exactly who the woman was who found the fork. You would have to know where and when she picked up the fork. You would have to prove she was, in fact, in that place at that time, and that Lincoln was too. And even if you knew all those things, you still wouldn't know for sure that Lincoln used that particular fork.

It's often easier to prove that stories like yours AREN'T true. For example, suppose your fork turns out to have been made after Lincoln was assassinated. Then you would know that he couldn't possibly have used it.

If you post a picture, members here might at least be able to tell you if the fork is old enough that it COULD have belonged to Lincoln.

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Kimo

Posts: 1595
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-22-2006 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The sad thing is that for every story that has been passed along with an old object that it once belonged to or was used by someone famous, the number where there is any reasonable proof that it is the case is a fraction of 1 percent. In most cases, good research turns up facts where it could not be so. In a few cases such research turns up information that the object could have been present in the same year and general location but the proof - which is called provenance (pronounced PRO-ven-ahns) is just not there. Such provenance could be something like a letter or letter and photo of the object taken at the time (in the 1860s for a Lincoln item for example) that clearly describe the object and tell the story. Without such provenance it is up to the individual to believe what they wish but they need to understand that their belief is a matter of personal desire to believe rather than actual knowledge that it is so. For some this is enough.

As for the research, as others have said if you might post clear photos of the spoon - both front and back and a closeup of any markings on it and we should be able to give you a general timeframe as to when it would have been made and whether it is likely it could have been in Kentucky at that time.

Additional research that you might do could be to determine whether Lincoln ever made a trip to Kentucky in those years. As President during those war years he rarely traveled away from Washington as he was very busy running the war and dealing with the Washington bureaucracy.

Your comment that there are very few people with the surname Lincoln was surprising to me as I might have thought it would be a popular name. I checked the 1990 census and saw that you are correct - in that year there were only about 15,000 households in the U.S. with families with that surname. Relatively, this is a fairly small number, though in absolute terms that is a lot of Lincolns. Do you know whether there were any descendents of Lincoln and whether the family goes on? I know his son died at an early age, but were there any others who lived on?

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jersey

Posts: 1203
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 05-22-2006 08:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Tanisha!
Welcome to the forum.
FYI Rogers Bros. has been around since the 1820's. Perhaps some historical society would be able to help you regarding Abe's family artifacts.
We would all love for your story to be true. Please post a picture of the spoon. As it has been said that would help tremendously in IDing it to a specific time.
Jersey

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4084
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 05-22-2006 08:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
FYI: Rogers Brothers (William Hazen, Asa Harris, and Simeon Smith Rogers) was formed in 1847.

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vathek

Posts: 962
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 05-23-2006 07:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for vathek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hmmm. did any of you see the "lincoln" fork which recently sold on ebay?

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middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 05-23-2006 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Abraham Lincoln's family descendants may not exist anymore. A gentleman named Beckwith, whose nickname was Bud, lived in New York the last I knew, but he may well have passed away since then. His sister, Peggy, owned the family home, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont which was built by Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Peggy passed away about twenty or twenty-five years ago and left the property to the Christian Science Church. The church could not maitain it and had no use for it, so an organization in Vermont, dedicated to preserving the estate, bought it and it is now a tourist attraction. Many Lincoln family items are shown there, perhaps their silver.If you address an inquiry to Hildene, Rt.7 Manchester, Vt. you may be able to verify the story or the piece.
I'm up on this matter because a cousin of mine ran the farm on the estate and then was caretaker of the estate after Peggy's death, on through the acquisition of the estate (all 400 acres) by the organization that owns it now.

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