Fact or Fiction: President Lincoln had a daughter

+3 votes
856 views

I have found several references - here and on another site - to Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd having a daughter named Mary Todd Lincoln. She would have been born after Robert but before Edward. The information indicates she probably was stillborn. Now I know talking about stillborn children is often not done - even to this day, and Lincoln's history has been gone over pretty thoroughly so I am slightly skeptical as to whether he had a daughter as all public records would indicate otherwise. However the dates work out that she could have existed, the naming convention is right, and Lincoln was not heavily in the public eye when this would have happened so that leaves the door open for me. Does anyone know of any supporting documentation? Or is this just a case of one bad record taking on a life of its own.

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in Genealogy Help by B Chelton G2G6 (8.1k points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
I have looked into this before. While I cannot definitively say that President Abraham Lincoln had no daughters, stillborn or otherwise, I can tell you that I have never found documentable or creditable evidence of any female offspring.   There are many examples of "Theory as fact" regarding a Lincoln daughter that have only conjecture to back them up; and not a few conspiracy theories out there as well.  And then, of course, there is the book "Lincoln's Daughter" which is a work of fiction.

I think this may be a wild goose chase, Brian, but I'd sure like to know if you find out otherwise!

- Mike
by Michael Gabbard G2G6 Mach 1 (19.5k points)
Yeah I imagine that I am going to find myself in the same with the same conclusion. It seems highly unlikely given how many times people have gone over Lincoln's history. But I also know from personal experience that with stillbirths they often happen and are never talked about. I only found out by accident 15 years after it happened that my mother had a miscarriage so even in this day and age it is kind of a taboo topic.

I basically emailed all the people I could find on Ancestry that listed her as a child asking for documentation or something and so far the only person who has responded gave me a file that had 10 children for Abe Lincoln and four or five of them were name Willie, so not off to the best of starts.  :)

Imagine this is going to potentially turn out to be like a situation I found on the Titus side of my family where something was documented and no one had verified the source so the "bad" information was spread around so much that every assumed based on volume that it was true. Fun with genealogy...

It is, sadly, very common for  the lie to become the truth (as Michael Jackson put it in "Billie Jean").  Especially if it's repeated often enough.  This is relatively harmless for family anecdotes such as "Cousin Ted used to date a Rockefeller,"  but much more serious when it's something like "Cousin Ted married a Rockefeller and they had 4 kids." 

Such things make us into Police Detectives rather than mere researchers, trying to find something to corroborate a story.  "Just the facts, Ma'am."  

When we can confirm a family legend it's awesome (like my family's connection to the Titanic disaster).  But it can be a tricky business to disprove an old family chestnut that is near and dear to the heart.  I have upset more than a few cousins in doing so - I've learned to tread lightly !

- Mike

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