By David J. Kent
Monday, July 19, 2021
A home associated with Abraham Lincoln's 4th-great grandfather was damaged on July 16, 2021 by a squirrel.
Technically, a 19-year-old woman swerved to avoid said squirrel early on Friday morning and plunged the front half of her car into the living room of a Lincoln ancestral home in Hingham, Massachusetts. No one was injured in the incident, including the squirrel. The building was the home of Samuel Lincoln.
Who was Samuel Lincoln? The original Samuel was an Englishman who left his home near Hingham, England (100+ miles northeast of London) and moved to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637. He settled in, where else, the new town of Hingham, Massachusetts.
And now it gets confusing. Samuel's first son was also named Samuel. Samuel the elder's fourth son was Mordecai. Mordecai had a son also named Mordecai, who had a son John, who had a son Abraham. This was Lincoln's grandfather, the one who was killed when Lincoln's father Thomas was only a boy. If this is hard to follow it's because the family tended to have a lot of children and, following Puritan tradition, they re-used a small number of Biblical names, so keeping track of all the Abrahams, Samuels, Isaacs, Jacobs, and Mordecais is a chore. [This page gives you a nice family tree.] In any case, the Lincoln family passed down the house to succeeding owners long enough for it to be struck by a squirrel-avoiding Audi Q7.
The confusion continues because the house hit isn't actually the "Samuel Lincoln House" (located at 170 North Street), but what is sometimes called the "Samuel Lincoln Cottage" (at 182 North Street, about four houses away). The Cottage is a small building with a historical marker indicating it is the Samuel Lincoln House built in 1650 (but it's really the "Cottage") just around the corner from the main Samuel Lincoln House that carries the bigger sign shown above and built in 1721. These were built by Samuel, the grandson of Samuel the elder who emigrated here from England, not to be confused with Samuel the younger, first son of Samuel the elder, and really not a part of this story at all. And don't get me started on the "General Benjamin Lincoln House" across the street from the "Cottage."
Hingham is a coastal town southeast of Boston. If you get there to see the Samuel Lincoln house (and cottage), also check out the seated Lincoln statue in the park across from the main house (between North and Lincoln Streets, of course).
As far as we know, Lincoln never visited the ancestral home in Hingham. He did make two trips to New England in his lifetime. The first was between sessions of his single term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1848. Mainly he toured Massachusetts, stumping for the Whig presidential candidate Zachary Taylor. Taylor won but died in office, leaving his vice president, Martin Van Buren, to take over and immediately stop the Whig agenda Taylor had been duly promoting. This was only the second time a Whig had been elected. The first time, William Henry Harrison got sick during his inauguration speech and about three weeks later was dead. His VP, John Tyler, also disrupted the Whig agenda. After Taylor, the Whigs never elected another president, which given their track record for brevity of time in office may have been a good thing. Meanwhile, Lincoln's second trip to New England followed his smash Cooper Union speech in February 1860. This time he lectured throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, the latter state where he also visited his son Robert who was attending Phillips Exeter Academy in preparation for his move to Harvard College (now University).
The current owners of the Lincoln home in Hingham say they will hire a special crew experienced with historical renovations to repair the "Cottage." Apparently, in the thirty-three years they've lived there, four accidents have taken out pieces of the property, including stone posts by the front door and power poles outside the house. This may explain why the Lincoln's built a bigger home on the other side of the curve that passes near the "Cottage." As far as I know, no squirrels were hurt in any of those accidents.
[Photo Wikimedia Commons by Timothy Valentine - https://www.flickr.com/photos/el_ramon/3232950290/, CC BY-SA 2.0.