Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day - "Up Close and Personal?"

This is the first time I have ever paused to consider President's Day from a personal perspective. Having been on the receiving end of an enormous amount of genealogical research done by others, followed by a little study on my own, I am fortunate to be aware of family connections (or possible connections) to Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, 
and George Washington.

The Hackneys and the Great Emancipator: The relationship of the Hackneys and Lincoln is well documented. The Hackneys are my mother's paternal ancestors. Both her grandparents on the Hackney side knew Lincoln from his days as an Illinois lawyer and circuit judge. My great-grandfather Oscar (better known as OJ) and his father William P. farmed near Mt. Pulaski and called on Lincoln for business or legal reasons. More reasearch is needed.

My great-grandmother, Magdalena Dorothea Binder, was orphaned as a small child within a year after her family's emigration to Illinois from Germany. She was adopted by Dr. John Clark and his wife, also residents of Mt. Pulaski. My mother has recounted stories of staying after school in town with Grandmother Lena, and hearing her grandmother tell of the many times Lincoln dropped by Dr. Clark's house across the street from the courthouse. Lincoln and her stepfather would sit on the front porch by the hour engaged in conversation, and little Lena was allowed to sit on the porch and listen or to play in the front yard. Great-grandmother also told of participating in a Lincoln campaign parade through Mt. Pulaski. Whether that was for state representative or a presidential bid is unknown.

OJ and Lena Hackney were early settlers of Sumner County (1871) and OJ would become Wellington's first postmaster, then served as "Watchdog of the City Treasury" for many years.

Magdalena (Lena) and Oscar (OJ) Hackney, 1930s

The Trebers and Andrew Jackson: Five miles northwest of West Union, Ohio, on the trail known as Zane's Trace, John Treber built a "large and modious" log cabin home. That was in 1798. Its location on the well-traveled trace caused the home to became a popular stopover for several decades - due in no small part to the reputation of Mother Treber's "most excellent coffee and biscuits." During its hey-day, Treber's Traveler's Rest (or The Old Treber Inn as it was called in later years), hosted such dignitaries as General Andrew Jackson, Thomas H. Benton, Henry Clay, and General Santa Ana. 

I am related to John Treber through my mother's mother's (Holmes) family line. He is a 4 great-grandfather to me. Additional information regarding the Old Treber Inn may be seen at:

The Old Treber Inn, 1909 postcard view

Major George Gilchrist and George Washington: OK - this one's a stretch - one that includes some speculation. But definitely a possibility. George Gilchrist of Accomack County, Virginia, entered the Continental Army in 1776 (on July 4 according to one document) as a captain, an indication he must have been a man of means. Shortly thereafter, he was captured by the British and spent most of the war as a prisoner. He was released in an exchange of prisoners, promoted to major (strange?), and said to have been present at the closing battle of the revolution at Yorktown. I have yet, however, to find documentation of his presence at Yorktown. Did George Gilchrist know The Father of Our Country, or meet him at some point in time? As a Virginian of means, as an officer in the Continental Army, and if he was indeed present at Yorktown, there is a distinct possibility the answer is yes. Family stories, rarely a reliable source of information, say he fought with Washington. We may never know the answer to that question, but we will keep looking.

George Gilchrist is my 5 great-grandfather, on the Thompson side. His father Andrew, a merchant, came to the colonies from Glasgow, Scotland.