Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Looking for Lincoln Part I: Anna Belle Lincoln

My Mother’s family (BAYLESS) has been in this country since the early 1600s. When you can trace your family history back even a few generations you are bound to find connections to well known personages. At the very least, you will find family traditions that connect your family to notables. Thus it was no surprise when I was asked by another BAYLES/BAYLESS researcher, “How are we connected to President Abraham Lincoln?” It is not surprising to hear the question. It was a puzzle though. I had already been researching the Bayless family for several years and had never come across a Lincoln connection.

The short answer is that descendants of Anna Belle Lincoln and Albert L. Bayless do seem to share some common ancestors with President Lincoln.

It took a little work for me to find out the connection. When I started I had not heard of Anna Belle Lincoln. Anna Belle’s family were from Rockingham Co., VA, as were the ancestors of the President. I found two newspaper articles concerning Anna Belle. One article was about her connection to President Lincoln and the other was an article about her 54th wedding anniversary that included reference to her Lincoln connection. Mrs. (Lincoln) Bayless claimed that Lincoln was her father’s cousin. I set out to see if I could prove it.

Anna Belle and Albert Bayless lived in Joplin, MO. Anna Belle’s family had long been settled in Rockingham Co., VA. Her parents were Mary Elizabeth Koontz (another old Rockingham family) and Albert Curtis Lincoln. The Parents of Albert Bayless came to MO from East TN where Albert was born at Telford, the son of Amanda Ann Haney and John Tabor Bayless. My Mother’s Bayless line connects with Albert’s ancestors in Washington Co., TN, where they settled at the end of the 18th century.

I found two interesting books about the ancestry of Abraham Lincoln: History of the Lincoln Family, An Account of the Descendants of Samuel Lincoln of Hingham Massachusetts 1637-1920; Compiled by Waldo Lincoln, A.B., Worcester, MA, 1923, and The Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln, by J. Henry Lea and H.R. Hutchinson, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston and New York, 1909. Of these two books, the first one by Waldo Lincoln includes Anna Belle (Lincoln) Bayless and her Lincoln ancestors. The book by Lea and Hutchinson traces the ancestry of the President. The first common ancestor of both the President and Anna Belle was John Lincoln, b. 1711. From John Lincoln back to the immigrant ancestor, Samuel Lincoln (who d, 1619). Both the President and Anna Belle’s ancestors are the same.

John Lincoln and his wife Rebecca had a son Jacob who was born 1751. Jacob Lincoln married Doris Robinson and had a son David. David’s son Preston Lincoln married Elizabeth Coffman and they were the parents of Albert Curtis Lincoln, the father of Anna Belle. I used Family Tree maker’s “Relationship Calculator” to determine how Anna Belle Lincoln Bayless was related to the President: second cousin, twice removed. If Mr. Walso Lincoln’s ancestry is correct, then Anna Belle was also correct about her father’s ancestry and through her, her Bayless descendants thus are “cousins” of the President.

Anna Belle also claimed a connection to the President through her mother Mary Elizabeth Koontz. I could not confirm that. The Koontz family (also Coonce, etc.) were early settlers of Rockingham Co., VA. It would not be surprising to find that they also have a second marital connection to the Lincolns but I have not yet found it.

The photo of Anna Belle Lincoln and her husband Albert L. Bayless was taken in 1952 on the occasion of their 54th wedding anniversary.

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