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202. John McNamar to William H. Herndon.

Menard County Illinos June 4th 1866

My Dear Sir

I Received your very flattering Letter Some Times Since,

you Entirely Overrate My ability to give you any furthur information concerning M. Lincoln's intercourse with the young Ladies, I was absent from 32 to 35, During which time the Sayings or doings, of Mr Lincoln have not been reported to me further than I have already Informed you, I would remark that at that time I think Neither Mr Lincon nor my self were in a Situation to Enter into what Mr Seward would Call "Entangling Alliances,"

My aquintance with Mr Lincoln commenced at Old or as it was fancifully Called New salem whether those who named it had any Referance to the place where the Priesthood forever after the order of Mulchisedick was declared, I am not prepared to say the founders and builders of the Old Mill there were John M Cameron, who was a preacher and Mr James Rutlege both belonging to Cuberland Presbyterian Pursuasion Mr Cameron is or was Early this Spring alive he lives in california and came from Georgia I have forgotten what State the Rutleges Came from I believe the claimed Some Connection with the rutledges of the corolinas

Miss Ann Rutlege and her Father Both died on the farm where I now reside and then owned it formerly belonged to Mr Cameron, the Rutledge farm Joining it South Some of Mr Lincolns corners as Surveyor are Still visible on Lines traced by him on both farms, the Deaths of both Mr Rutlege and Ann occurred in 35

I however Claim to be the first Explorer and discoverer of Salem as a business point, Mr Hill (Now Dead) and myself — purchased Some Goods at cincinnatti and Shipped them to Saint Louis whence I set out on a voyage of Discovery on the praries of Illinois and finally came across John Taylor out on the prarie Near Lick or Sugar Creek Hunting Horses or fillies who Piloted me to Springfield where I put up at the Famous Hotel of Mrs Johnson; at or in front your Father's Store I was met by a tall and Slender Stripling with a countenance of somewhat a southern aspect if the term is appropriate, and whom I took for a student, who very cordially accosted me and Kindly invited me to become a citizen of Springfield, that was all there was of J. T. Stuart in those days, I however soon came across a Noted Character who Lives in this vicinity by the name of Thos. Watkins. who set forth the beauties and other advantages of Camerons Mill as it was then called


I accordingly came home with him visited the Locality contracted for the Erection of a Magnificent Store house for the Sum of fifteen Dollars, and after passing a night in the Prarie reached Saint Louis in safety Others soon followed Geo Warburton was sent out by his Brother John (head of the house of Warburton & Ring — with Goods Probably through the influence of the amount of Business done with their house by us, The House they Erected was afterwards occupied by Offet, and Mr Lincoln who came to the place probably in 29 or 30 or about a year after I came there My impression is that he came down the river on a boat Loaded with corn and stoped there while offet went on to New Orleans others however Say he went on to New Orleans with offet be that is it may Offet Came back and Lincoln if he went with him Came also Offet rented the old Mill and Exchanged some Goods Principally Sugar & Coffee for Wheat, he may have however purchased Some of Warburtons Goods, who soon Closed out, the country not having improved his morels in the Estimation of his Friends, Offet and Lincoln occupied the House as soon as vacated, I have Entirely forgotten what amount of Goods they had or Business they Done, Dr John Allen Came to the place about Same time or Shortly before (through the recommendation of Mr Proctor of Lewiston) he resided there constantly until 37. he died as you are probably aware two or three years ago he could if alive give more information concerning Mr Lincon as he was there all the time Lincoln was in this part of the country, than probably any other Person there was a Dr Nelson came to the place with a Roman Catholic wife whom he married in Cincinnati whether whether from Religion or the want of it they did not live very hapily together Nelson built a small flat Boat and Started for Texas Lincoln piloted them out of the Sangamon the river was very full overowing its Banks They Lost the river as I heard Mr Lincoln relate and ran about three miles out in the Prairie. of Mr Lincolns Religious Sentiments — I think they were Protesant unless Nelsons Catholic wife converted him, I never recolect hearing Mr Lincon Swear believe he was perfectly temperate in his habits he possessed a fund of Good Humour which often found vent in anecdote, I dont recolect at this distant Day however any of his Jokes, though they were as I Remember as "plenty as Blackberries" at the time

I do not think there was any party Politics hereabout in those days candidats for Election basing their Claims upon Local Hobeys. — Lincoln I think had not returned from the Black Hawk war when I left I cant recolect seeing him for some considerable time previous more over I recolect meeting Several Cadets at Columbus O on their way to the scene of that remarable Campaign,

the Last time I ever Saw Mr Lincoln was at Petersburg. at the time of the Great Senatorial Campain between him and Mr Douglas After he was done speaking he pass among his old acquaintance an gave Each a Cordial Shake of the hand me among the rest calling me by name, I fear this will nont be very satisfactory


the rise and fall of old Salem Cannot interest you much. As I was the Pioneer I thought proper to advert to it

Verry Respectfully yours &c
John McNamar

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2579 — 80; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:497 — 501



1. For other references to this story, see the index.