Throughout history, it was not unusual for people to name their children after popular leaders. If you are a boy and your last name happens to be Lincoln, and it’s the middle of the 19th century, then there is a chance that your parents could have named you Abraham. Today we will visit one.
The date is February 2, 1861. The Civil War was just beginning, and President Abraham Lincoln was in the White House. 400 miles away as the crow flies, Abraham H. Lincoln was born to Caleb and Rhoda Lincoln of Natick, Massachusetts.
Shortly thereafter, Caleb, who was a farmer by trade, bought a farm off Winter Street in Ashland and moved the family from Natick. Abe had three brothers: George, Sumner, and Samuel. Sumner was the closest in age to Abe, and the two graduated in 1879 from the High School at Town Hall. Considering the time period, it wasn’t unusual to have children of different ages graduate from the same class. In addition, school administration was not as structured as it is today causing gaps and delays in the curriculum.
After graduation, Abe led the life of a farmer until 1910 when he was appointed Deputy Fire Warden. This was one of 16 positions under direction of the Forest Fire Warden Horace Piper, and Abe was responsible for fires in his district. Forest fires were not uncommon, especially during dry summers, due to the proximity of the railroad. Sparks from the locomotives traveling the rails frequently set small fires in the brush adjacent to the tracks. The deputy’s job was to extinguish these fires before they caused a major calamity. Of the 34 fires reported that year, 27 were caused by locomotives.
Abe served as a deputy for about 10 years. Looking to help the town in other ways, he ran for Selectman and served for two years. This apparently was not a pleasurable experience because Ashland historian Kay Powers, in her research of Abe, found a note in the local paper after he lost a bid for re-election. It read:
CARD of THANKS
I wish to thank every voter, who at the polls on Monday, did not vote for me, thereby saving me the trouble and abuse which one has when elected. With one faction with their knives and poison and another with misrepresentations and false statements, the wonder is not at the small vote, but it was a large as it was. It proves that there are 141 voters in Ashland who use their own judgment and do their own thinking. I appreciate and thank them for their trust and confidence, believing that they have more respect for me having been a person with principal (sic), honesty and fairness, than if I had been a puppet or tool for any one or any faction. I thank you.
Ouch. I guess politics is politics whether it’s the early 1920s or today. Abe died February 19, 1923 and is buried in Wildwood Cemetery. I wonder who is buried next to him? Ulysses Grant? Maybe we can answer the age old question of who is buried in his tomb?
Steve Leacu for Ashland Directions