Mary (Todd) Lincoln

Mary Ann (Todd) Lincoln (1818 - 1882)

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Mary Ann "Molly" Lincoln formerly Todd
Born in Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States of Americamap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married in Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois, United Statesmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois, United States of Americamap
Profile last modified | Created 28 Jan 2011
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Categories: Spouses of US Presidents | First Ladies of the United States | Nominated Profiles | Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois | American Notables.

U.S. President Wife
Mary (Todd) Lincoln was the wife of a United States President.
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Mary (Todd) Lincoln is Notable.

Mary had three sisters: Elizabeth Todd Edwards (1813-1888), Frances "Fanny" Todd Wallace (1815-1899) and Ann Todd Smith (1824-1891) and three brothers: Levi O. Todd (1817-1865), Robert P. Todd (1820-1822) and George Rogers Clark Todd (1825-1900).

Her mother died and her father married again and sired 9 half-siblings of Mary, namely : Robert S. Todd (1827-died in infancy), Margaret Todd Kellogg (1828-1904) Samuel Briggs Todd (1830-1862) David H. Todd (1832-1871) Martha Todd White (1833-1868) Emilie Todd Helm (1836-1930) Alexander "Aleck" Todd (1839-1863) Elodie "Dedee" Todd Dawson (1840-death date unknown) Katherine "Kitty" Todd Herr (1841-1875)




The biography of Mary Todd Lincoln from The Kentucky Encyclopedia


LINCOLN, MARY (TODD). Born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 13, 1818, Mary (Todd) Lincoln, first lady of the United States, was descended from two of central Kentucky's best-known families-the Todds and the Parkers. Her grandfather, Levi Todd, had been instrumental in the establishment of Lexington. Her father,Robert Smith Todd, was a prosperous cotton merchant, businessman, and Whig politician. Her mother, Eliza (Parker) Todd, died in childbirth when Mary Todd was six. Shortly thereafter her father married Elizabeth Humphreys, of Frankfort, Kentucky. Mary lived with them and their children in a brick house on West Main Street in Lexington. As a girl Mary attended John Ward's school in Lexington and then Charlotte Mentelle's boarding school, across from Henry Clay's estate, Ashland.


Her twelve years in school made her one of the best-educated women of her era. In 1839 Mary Todd followed her older sisters to Springfield, Illinois, where she lived in her sister Elizabeth Edwards's home. In November 1842 she married Abraham Lincoln, then a lawyer who had three times won election to the state legislature. They had four sons, Robert Todd, Edward, William, and Thomas (Tad). Mary Lincoln lived the typical domestic life of a nineteenth century middle-class woman, though she maintained an unusual interest in politics and in her husband's career as a politician. Her great expectations for her husband were realized when, after two unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate, he was elected president of the United States in November 1860. During Mary Lincoln's four years in the White House (1861-65) she worked hard to turn it into a fashionable mansion worthy of her husband, herself, and the nation. But the Civil War made these efforts seem frivolous. Throughout the war she was often attacked in the newspapers for her extravagance and for her supposed Confederate allegiance, especially after it was reported that three of her Kentucky half-brothers were fighting with the Confederate army. In 1863 she took in her beloved half-sister, Emilie (Todd) Helm, widow of Confederate Gen. Benjamin Hardin Helm, who had been killed at Chickamauga. At the White House, Emilie's presence reinforced the suspicion that Mary Lincoln was a Confederate sympathizer.

In fact the first lady (she was the first to be called that) was a staunch Unionist who, like many other women during the war, visited hospitals to comfort the wounded and raised money for the war effort. After the death of her son Willie in 1862, a distraught Mary Lincoln often sought comfort among spiritualists, who she believed could return her two dead sons to her in seances. On April 14, 1865, five days after Lee Surrendered, President Lincoln was assassinated. As a widow Mary Lincoln struggled financially. Though she eventually received $36,000 from her husband's estate, she fought for a pension. Increasingly restless, she traveled with Tad to Europe.

In 1871 she received another devastating blow when Tad died of pleurisy. In 1875 her only surviving son, Robert, committed her to a private asylum for the insane, but she struggled for freedom and after three months was released. Fearing that Robert would continue to threaten her for behavior that was bizarre but not deranged, Mary Lincoln lived in Pau,France, from 1878 to 1882. Only when her health made it necessary did she return to her sister's home in Springfield, Illinois. There she died on July 16, 1882, and was buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. See Jean H. Baker, Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography (New York 1987); Ruth Painter Randall, Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage (Boston 1953). JEAN H. BAKER

  • Mary Todd Lincoln

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[1]

First Lady of the United States

Mary Ann (née Todd) Lincoln (December 13, 1818 – July 16, 1882) was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.

Life before the White House

Born in Lexington, Kentucky, the daughter of Robert Smith Todd, a banker, and Elizabeth Parker Todd, Mary was raised in comfort and refinement.[1] When Mary was six, her mother died; her father married Elizabeth "Betsy" Humphreys Todd in 1826.[2] Mary had a difficult relationship with her stepmother. From 1832, Mary lived in what is now known as the Mary Todd Lincoln House, an elegant 14-room residence in Lexington. From her father's two marriages, Mary had a total of 14 siblings.

Mary Lincoln's paternal great-grandfather, David Levi Todd, was born in County Longford, Ireland, and emigrated through Pennsylvania to Kentucky. Her great-great maternal grandfather Samuel McDowell was born in Scotland then emigrated to and died in Pennsylvania. Other Todd ancestors came from England.

Mary left home at an early age to attend a finishing school owned by a French woman, where the curriculum concentrated on French and dancing. She learned to speak French fluently, studied dance, drama, music and social graces. By the age of 20 she was regarded as witty and gregarious, with a grasp of politics. Mary began living with her sister Elizabeth Edwards in Springfield Illinois in October 1839. Elizabeth (wife of Ninian W. Edwards, son of a former governor) served as Mary's guardian while Mary lived in Springfield. Mary was popular among the gentry of Springfield, and though she was courted by the rising young lawyer and politician Stephen A. Douglas and others, her courtship with Abraham Lincoln resulted in an engagement. Abraham Lincoln, then 33, married Mary Todd, age 23, on November 4, 1842, at the home of Mrs. Edwards in Springfield.

Lincoln and Douglas would eventually become political rivals in the great Lincoln-Douglas debates for a seat representing Illinois in the United States Senate in 1858. Although Douglas successfully secured the seat by election in the Illinois legislature, Lincoln became famous for his position on slavery which generated national support for him.

Historic home of Todd family, Lexington, KY

While Lincoln pursued his increasingly successful career as a Springfield lawyer, Mary supervised their growing household. Their home from 1844 until 1861 still stands in Springfield, and is now the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

Their children, all born in Springfield, were: • Robert Todd Lincoln (1843–1926) – lawyer, diplomat, businessman. • Edward Baker Lincoln known as "Eddie" (1846–1850) • William Wallace Lincoln known as "Willie" (1850–1862), died while Lincoln was President • Thomas Lincoln known as "Tad" (1853–1871)

Of these four sons, only Robert and Tad survived to adulthood, and only Robert outlived his mother.

During Lincoln's years as an Illinois circuit lawyer, Mary Lincoln was often left alone to raise their children and run the household. Mary also supported her husband politically and socially, not least when Lincoln was elected president in 1860.

White House years

During her White House years, Mary Lincoln faced many personal difficulties generated by political divisions within the nation. Her family was from a border state where slavery was permitted In Kentucky, siblings not infrequently fought each other in the Civil War and Mary's family was no exception. Several of her half-brothers served in the Confederate Army and were killed in action, and one full brother served the Confederacy as a surgeon. Mary, however, staunchly supported her husband in his quest to save the Union and maintained a strict loyalty to his policies. Nevertheless it was a challenge for Mary, a Westerner, to serve as her husband's First Lady in Washington, D.C., a political center dominated by eastern and southern culture. Lincoln was regarded as the first "western" president, and Mary's manners were often criticized as coarse and pretentious. It was difficult for her to negotiate White House social responsibilities and rivalries, spoils-seeking solicitors, and baiting newspapers in a climate of high national intrigue in Civil War Washington.

Mary suffered from severe headaches throughout her adult life as well as protracted depression. During her White House years, she also suffered a severe head injury in a carriage accident. A history of public outbursts throughout Lincoln's presidency, as well as excessive spending, has led some historians and psychologists to speculate that Mary in fact suffered from bipolar disorder.

During her tenure at the White House, she often visited hospitals around Washington where she gave flowers and fruit to wounded soldiers, and transcribed letters for them to send their loved ones. From time to time, she accompanied Lincoln on military visits to the field. She also hosted many social functions, and has often been blamed for spending too much on the White House, but she reportedly felt that it was important to the maintenance of prestige of the Presidency and the Union.

Assassination survivor and later life

In April 1865, as the Civil War came to an end, Mrs. Lincoln expected to continue as the First Lady of a nation at peace. However, on April 14, 1865, as Mary Lincoln sat with her husband to watch the comic play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre, President Lincoln was shot in the head by an assassin. Mrs. Lincoln accompanied her husband across the street to the Petersen House, where Lincoln's Cabinet was summoned. Mary and her son Robert sat with Lincoln throughout the night, until he died the following day, April 15, at 7:22 am.

Mary received messages of condolence from all over the world, many of which she attempted to answer personally. To Queen Victoria she wrote: "I have received the letter which Your Majesty has had the kindness to write. I am deeply grateful for this expression of tender sympathy, coming as they do, from a heart which from its own sorrow, can appreciate the intense grief I now endure." Victoria herself had suffered the loss of Prince Albert four years earlier.

As a widow, Mrs. Lincoln returned to Illinois. In 1868, Mrs. Lincoln's former confidante, Elizabeth Keckly, published Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty years a slave, and four years in the White House. Although this book provides valuable insight into the character and life of Mary Todd Lincoln, at the time the former First Lady regarded it as a breach of friendship.

In an act approved July 14 1870, the United States Congress granted Mrs. Lincoln a life pension in the amount of $3,000 a year, by an insultingly low margin. Mary had lobbied hard for such a pension, writing numerous letters to Congress and urging patrons such as Simon Cameron to petition on her behalf, insisting that she deserved a pension just as much as the widows of soldiers.

For Mary Lincoln, the death of her son Thomas (Tad), in July 1871, following the death of two of her other sons and her husband, led to an overpowering sense of grief. Mrs. Lincoln's sole surviving son, Robert Lincoln, a rising young Chicago lawyer, was alarmed at his mother's increasingly erratic behavior. In March 1875, during a visit to Jacksonville, Florida, Mary became unshakably convinced that Robert was deathly ill. She traveled to Chicago to see him, but found he wasn't sick. In Chicago she told her son that someone had tried to poison her on the train and that a "wandering Jew" had taken her pocketbook but would return it later. During her stay in Chicago with her son, Mary spent large amounts of money on items she never used, such as draperies which she never hung and elaborate dresses which she never wore, as she wore only black after her husband's assassination. She would also walk around the city with $56,000 in government bonds sewn into her petticoats. Despite this large amount of money and the $3,000 a year stipend from Congress, Mrs. Lincoln had an irrational fear of poverty. After Mrs. Lincoln nearly jumped out of a window to escape a non-existent fire, her son determined that she should be institutionalized.

Mrs. Lincoln was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Batavia, Illinois, in 1875. After the court proceedings, Mary was so enraged that she attempted suicide. She went to the hotel pharmacist and ordered enough laudanum to kill herself. However, the pharmacist realized what she was planning to do and gave her a placebo.

On May 20, 1875, she arrived at Bellevue Place, a private sanitarium in the Fox River Valley. Three months after being committed to Bellevue Place, Mary Lincoln engineered her escape. She smuggled letters to her lawyer, James B. Bradwell, and his wife, Myra Bradwell, who was not only her friend but also a feminist lawyer and fellow spiritualist. She also wrote to the editor of the Chicago Times. Soon, the public embarrassments Robert (who now controlled his mother's finances) had hoped to avoid were looming, and his character and motives were in question. The director of Bellevue, who at Mary's trial had assured the jury she would benefit from treatment at his facility, now in the face of potentially damaging publicity declared her well enough to go to Springfield to live with her sister as she desired. She was released into the custody of her sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards, in Springfield and in 1876 was once again declared competent to manage her own affairs. The committal proceedings led to a profound estrangement between Robert and his mother, and they never fully reconciled.

Mrs. Lincoln spent the next four years traveling throughout Europe and taking up residence in Pau, France. However, the former First Lady's final years were marked by declining health. She suffered from severe cataracts that affected her eyesight. This condition may have contributed to her increasing susceptibility to falls. In 1879, she suffered spinal-cord injuries in a fall from a step ladder.


During the early 1880s, Mary Lincoln was confined to the Springfield, Illinois residence of her sister Elizabeth Edwards. She died there on July 16, 1882, age 63, and was interred within the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield alongside her husband.


Her sister Elizabeth Todd was the daughter-in-law of Illinois Governor Ninian Edwards. Elizabeth's daughter Julia Edwards married Edward L. Baker, editor of the "Illinois State Journal" and son of Congressman David Jewett Baker. Her half-sister Emilie Todd married CS General Benjamin Hardin Helm, son of Kentucky Governor John L. Helm. Governor Helm's wife was a 1st cousin 3 times removed of Colonel John Hardin who was related to three Kentucky congressmen.

One of Mary Todd's cousins was Kentucky Congressman/US General John Blair Smith Todd. Another cousin, William L. Todd,[30] created the original Bear Flag for the California Republic in 1846.


  • Title: U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 Author: Yates Publishing Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA:
  • Title: 1850 United States Federal Census Author: Original data - Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls);

Author: Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp
Title: Illinois Marriages, 1790-1860
Author: Dodd, Jordan
Title: Illinois Marriages to 1850

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Mary by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Mary:

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On 18 May 2018 at 12:32 GMT Kathleen (Rogan) Foster wrote:

Mary (Todd) Lincoln and Kathleen (Rogan) Foster are both descendants of Robert (Tiptoft) de Tibetot. 17th cousins 4 times removed.

On 13 Jan 2018 at 17:29 GMT Shirley Davis wrote:

"Mrs. Lincoln's Salon" Presented by: Debra Miller Sunday, January 2, 2:00 pm, Main Library, Meeting Rooms A & B, Fort Wayne, IN

“Mrs. Lincoln's Salon” takes place in the Executive Mansion Blue Room on April 4th, 1865. The president and the Lincolns’ youngest son, Tad, are at City Point; Robert, their eldest, is with General Grant in pursuit of Robert E. Lee; and Mary is alone in the Executive Mansion. The audience is invited to reminisce with Mrs. Lincoln about her childhood, her days in Springfield, her children, and the approaching end of the Civil War.

Drawing from Mary Todd Lincoln’s own letters to friends, family, and political figures of the era, Chicago actress Debra Miller presents in “Mrs. Lincoln's Salon” a faithful and sympathetic picture of Mary Lincoln.

On 7 Jul 2016 at 15:18 GMT Sheila x wrote:

John G. Sotos, who has also studied the medical history of Abraham Lincoln, detailed his theory: She suffered from an ailment called “pernicious anemia,” which is related to a vitamin B-12 deficiency. in the journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.

On 15 Jun 2015 at 22:50 GMT Robin Lee wrote:

Please add to the trusted list on this profile.

Mary is 20 degrees from Walter Morrison, 25 degrees from Alison Wilkins and 14 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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