Primary tabs


629. Louisa Hosey? (Jesse W. Weik Interview).


At first, when I sought to interrogate her, she was somewhat reticent if not really unresponsive, but when I explained that Mr. Herndon had sent me to see her with the assurance that her name should not be used, she gradually relented and eventually answered all my questions. She admitted that she had employed Lincoln and Herndon to look after her interests when her case came up in court. The first thing done was to ask for a change of venue, which, having been granted, she and the witnesses, some of whom were female inmates of her own household, others sundry gentlemen of gay and sportive tendency, were obliged to travel a short distance over the country to another court. "There was a good crowd of us," she related, "and a livelier delegation never drove over the prairies. As to the behavior and actions of Mr. Lincoln, I must say it was in every respect correct so that I can recall nothing improper or out of place about it. Of course he talked to me a good deal, and for that matter to the other ladies too."

"Where and when was it he talked to you?" I asked.

"Sometimes in the office, sometimes in the court-house, and sometimes elsewhere."

"Did he ever talk with you alone?

"Yes, I have frequently been in his office and spoken to him when no one else was there."

"What did he talk about?"

"Usually about business; also many other things that suggested themselves. The truth is he was an interesting talker on all subjects."

"How did he conduct himself? Was he agreeable?"

"To me he seemed always a gentleman. I could see nothing wrong or unpleasant about him."

"Did you ever hear him tell stories?"

"Yes; a good many."

"Were any of these stories told when you and he were alone?"

"Yes; and I remember that he told some when one or more of the ladies who accompanied me were present."

"What kind of stories were they?"

"Various kinds. Of course I can't describe them now, but I remember that they were all very much alike in one particular and that is that they were usually funny."

"Were any of them suggestive or objectionable?"

"No, I do not think they were."


"Then what would you say about their propriety; that is, would you consider what he said unfit to be told in polite society or in the company of ladies?"

The last question was evidently more or less of a tax on the old woman's memory or perhaps her conception of propriety; for she hesitated a few moments, as if buried in thought, before she answered; but she soon rallied and then responded:

"No, although some of the things he said were very amusing and made me as well as the others laugh, I do not think it would be fair to call them improper; in fact, I believe they could with safety have been told in the presence of ladies anywhere." At this point the witness halted again, but only an instant; for she promptly recovered her equanimity and concluded her testimony with the following emphatic and sententious declaration which I have never forgotten: "But that is more than I can say for Bill Herndon."

Weik, 83-85



1. This interview appears in JWW's account of being sent by WHH to question a former client about AL's professional behavior and his "demeanor and conduct toward the fair sex." The client was a woman who, "handicapped by a shady reputation, had landed in court charged with keeping a house of ill-repute or some like offense." The case occurred "at an early day," according to WHH, and the woman is said to be reformed and "leading a correct and becoming life" (Weik, 82-83). A search of the records compiled by the Lincoln Legal Papers Project indicates that People v. Joseph Klein and Louisa Hosey is the only case that seems to fit this description. A charge of fornication and adultery was brought in Sangamon County in 1843, which, after a change of venue to Menard County, was dismissed by the prosecution in June 1845.