445. Edgar Conkling to William H. Herndon.
Cincinnati O. July 25 '67
Seeing reference to your gathering facts & history of Mr. Lincoln I have thought you might appreciate the information I give you without endorsing its correctness & furnish you the opportunity of treating the question as truth and justice requires. I am responsible for what I tell you, being well known here & in your town by my brothers J.C.C. & Wm J Conkling all mutual friends of Mr Lincoln. Some years since I was in a law office here + + + + a Kentuckyan who related to me as follows: Mr Lincoln is a bastard, the son of a farmer; that Mr. Lincoln greatly resembled living at Muldraugh's Hill south of Louisville Ky. The child so resembled his real father as to induce him to get his reputed father to marry his mother and move to Indiana. While there he was taught by a young preacher that has since recognized him as Mr. Lincoln. This Kentucky lawyer while telling me the history of Lincoln was visited by one of the Todd's from Ky. a cousin of Mrs. Lincoln who confirmed the statements said he knew all about the locality & it was well known that Revd Dr Breckenridge knows it to be true also. I forget the name of the farmer but can get it if you desire the details. The lawyer yet lives here & if I am kept out of view & no names used I can secure information from. I will take the trouble to get for you the particulars. You will fully understand me. I have no reason to endorse the report & if true think no less of Mr. Lincoln, nor do I write to prejudice his history but simply to advise you of the report confidentially thinking you will act wisely in the matter
It occurs to me before a reliable history is printed of Mr Lincoln a personal visit to Ky. & different people there will be essential [blank space] may leak out statements like the above which if not true should be set at rest, but if true so dealt with as to protect the memory of Mr L. as well as to do justice to history. I can put you on the track of information if you desire it.
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3016
1. Contains the notation: Copied by Jesse W. Weik March 12 1919 Originals sent to Clinton L. Conkling Springfield Ills March 13 1919. At the top: Confidential, Positively —
2. Some words apparently left out when copying.
3. Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge was an outspoken Kentucky Unionist during the Civil War and editor of the Danville Quarterly Review.