Pioneers of Menard & Mason Counties
Including Personal Reminiscens of Abraham Lincoln & Peter Cartwright
By T.G. Onstot, 1902

His First Love

Page 23

At the time Mr. Lincoln boarded at the Rutledge tavern, Harvey Ross also put up there as often as he passed through Salem. It was a hewn log house, two stories high, with four rooms above and four below. It had two chimneys with a large fireplace, and not a stove in the house. The proprietor was James Rutledge, a man of more than ordinary ability, and with his wife kind and hospitable. They had a large family of eight or nine children, and among them their daughter, Anna, celebrated in song and story as Lincoln's sweetheart. She was several years younger than Lincoln, of medium size, weighing 123 pounds and had flaxen hair. She was handsome and attractive, as well as industrious and sweet spirited. It was seldom that she was not engaged in some occupation - knitting, sewing or waiting on the table. I think she did the sewing for the family. Lincoln was boarding at the tavern, and fell deeply in love with the gentle Annie, and she was no less in love with him. They were engaged to be married but had been putting the wedding off for a while as he wanted to accumulate a little more property, and she wished to attend school a while longer. Before the time had arrived when they were to be married, Miss Annie was taken down with typhoid fever, and lay dangerously sick for four weeks. Lincoln was an anxious and constant watcher at her bedside. The sickness ended in death, and young Lincoln was heart broken and prostrated. The histories have not exaggerated his pitiful grief, for he was not able to attend to business for quite awhile. I think his whole soul was wrapped up in that lovely girl. It was his first love, the holiest thing in life, the love that cannot die. The deepest gloom settled over his mind. He would often say to his friends, "My heart is buried in the grave with that dear girl." He would often go and sit by her grave and read from a little pocket testament which he carried with him. What he read I know not, but I'll warrant you it was, "Let not your heart be troubled, " or John's vision on the Isle of Patmos and Anna among the white robed throng, where sickness, sorrow, pain and death are feared no more; where death is unknown. One stormy night he was at the house of a friend, and as rain and sleet came down on the roof he sat with bowed head and tears trickling down his cheeks. His friends begged him to control his grief. "I cannot," said h e, "while storm and darkness are on her grave."

Anna Rutledge was of gentle blood and would have made him a noble wife in his humble years and in the imperial later life.

David Rutledge, a brother of Anna, took a course at Jacksonville college, and then went to Lewistown and studied law in the office of L.W. Ross and Jno. T. Boice. He afterwards married Miss Elizabeth Simms, and moved to Petersburg and opened up a law office. He was a bright and promising young lawyer, and no doubt would have made his mark but for his untimely death. He was buried by the side of his sister in the cemetery. His widow married C.W. Andrus, a prominent merchant of Havana.

The Rutledge family stood high in the country. Anna's father was a South Carolinian of high birth. One of his ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence. Another was chief justice of the Supreme Court under Washington's appointment. A third was a conspicuous leader in congress. So Lincoln's boyhood love was of a high and gentle birth.

Transcribed by:Jeanie Lowe



1902 Index

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Illinois Ancestors