5. J. Rowan Herndon to William H. Herndon.
Quincy May the 28th 1865
you wrote to James some time Back for a histry of Mr A Lincoln whilst he Lived at Salom Sangamon County By his Requst i ancer it as i was the one that Lived there and Knot James — i first Became acquainted with him about the first of January 1832 soon after he Returned from a trip to Neworleans on Bord of A Flat Boat he went down to Neworleens in the Spring or fall of 31 with the intention of staying there through the winter to Cut Cord wood But his Comrades took sick and Caused his Return i think his half Brother was with him During the trip. i am told By Captin Joseph Artis the Comander of the Boat that he Came up the River on that he was very modest and Kind to all the sick which made him very Popular Both with Deck and Cabin Pasingers he Being a Deck pasinger him self he spent the winter after his Return to salim in Building Boats for a spring trip in 32 But the Black halk ware Broke out and he volenterd to serve his Country with the Ballance of the Patriock Boys to Defend the frontier setters of this State from the Savages tomihock and skelping Knife he was Elected Captin of his Company By a unamis vote against all oposition after the Ware Closed and all Returned home his friends urged him to Run for the Legislator Claming that they had a wright to a member from that Part of the County he was urged By Both Political Partys to Run and finely Consented he Became very Poupelar whilst in the army he Could throw Down any man that took hold of him he Could out
jump the Best of of them he Could out Box the Best of them he Could Beat all of them on anictdote and he was the favorite of all of them and he Loved all of then as they Loved him he was the favorite of all at home Men & women & Childern he was very fond of Childern he Come to my house to Board soon after his Return from the army he most always had one of my Childern around with him During his stay at my house my family Became much atached to him he was always at home wherever he went very Kind to the Widoes & olfins Chop there wood he Read the News for all the County once a week as we had only a weekly male During the Summer Campain for the Legislate i herd him speak frequntly and he was a full mach for any man that was on the track in one of his speaches he said fellow Citersons i have Been told that some of my opponents have said that it was a disgrase to the County of sangamon to have such a Looking man as i am stuck up for the Legislator now i thought this was a free Cuntry that is the Reason that i adress you to Day had i have Known to the Contrary i should Knot have Consented to Run But i will say one thing Let the shue pinch whoe it may when i have Been a Canidate Before you some 5 or 6 times and have Bee Beaten every time i will Consider it a disgrase and will Be shure never to try it again and i am Bound to Beat that man if i am Beat my self — mark that and shure enough he was Beat together with some of the Ballance of his opponents Lincoln was Beat By some 9 votes i think But a majority of his ticket was elected Mr John T Sturt was one of them elected — the others i Canot Now Remember During the Campain at Paps town one of his Best friends got into a fight with a set of Ruffings and they atempted to shoe foul play he piched in and Piched them out Like they ware Boys and told them his friend Could whp the whole of them one at a time that ended the fus the fall or winter of 32 or 33 i sold him my Stock of Goods or Lincoln & Berry on Credit and some time after i Canot Recolect as I left there for a while they sold to two Brothers By the Name of Trent they failed and Bery dide and Lincoln had the Dt to Pay the Last Payment he made was after he went to Congress he Comensed Reading Law whilst he Borded at my house i bored such Book as he wished to Read from J T Sturt he Beeing a particklar friend of mine as well as of Lincolns he was much Devoted to Reading and had the Best memory of any man i Ever Knew he Never forgot any thing he Read Nor any friends he Never used Bad Langag Nor seldom if ever Drank any sperits Never Quareled or fought But always was the Pease maker infact all loved him and feared him he was By fare the stoutest man that i ever took hold of i was a mear Child in his hands and i Considered my self as good a man as there was in the Cuntry untill he Come about i saw him Lift Betwen 1000 and 1300 lbs of Rock waid in a Boxx Some time of the sumer of 33 he was appointed Debety survayor By J C Calhoon and in 34 he again was a Canidate for the Legislator on the whig ticket he was one of the most Devoted
Clay whigs in all the State Henry Clay was his favorite of all the great men of the Nation he allbut worshiped his name as well as my self therefore we agread Perfectly in Politics he Came to my house near iland Grove During harvest there was some 30 men in the field he got his Diner and went out to the field where the men ware at wort i gave him & entroduction and the Boys said that they Could Not vote for a man unless he Could make a hand well Said he Boys if that is all i am shure of your votes he took hold of the Cradle Led the way all the Round with Perfect ease the Boys was satisde and i dont think he Lost a vote in the Croud — the next Day was speaking at Burlin he went from my house with Doct Barrett the man that had asked me whoe this man Lincoln was; i told him that he was a Canidate for the Legislator he lafed and said Cant the party Raise No Beter Materials than that i said goe tomorrow and here all Before you pronounce judgement when he Come Back i said Dock what say you Now why sir he is a perfect take in he Knows more than all of them Put to gether he was elected By a Large Majority over all the ticket and his whole ticket was Elected Composed of A G Herndon W F Elkin J T Sturt N W Edwards Jobe Fletcher Dan Stone Andrew MCormack A Lincoln the other men i Doe Not Remenber the Name of the Ballance of his Carear you know yourself you Can take this & Remade it to suit your self i may Be mistaken in Dates But Not in the man or his history for the Most of it is from Personal Knoledge and facts
J. R. Herndon
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2116-18; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:526-32
1. James A. Herndon and John Rowan Herndon were brothers and also cousins of WHH.
2. Capt. Joseph Artus sent WHH four letters (June 13 and 21, 1865, Oct. 31, 1865, Nov. 3, 1866) about this alleged contact with Lincoln on the Mississippi River in 1832. The editors consider this a clear case of mistaken identity, and Artus's letters have not been included in this edition.
3. Papstown or Papsville was located west of Springfield, on Richland Creek.
4. See this writer's letter to WHH of June 21, 1865, where he identifies himself as the man attacked.
5. John Calhoun was surveyor of Sangamon County after March 2, 1833. The date of AL's appointment as Calhoun's deputy is not known; his earliest known survey was recorded on January 14, 1834.
6. The Island Grove neighborhood is roughly twelve miles west of Springfield in Sangamon County.
7. Berlin is a village in Island Grove Township, west of Springfield.