In November of 1861, a seventy-nine-year-old widow living in Rossville knitted a pair of socks and sent them to her cousin’s nephew. The widow’s name was Susannah Weathers, and her cousin’s nephew was President Abraham Lincoln. He wrote back:

To Mrs. Susannah Weathers
Rossville, Clinton Co, Ind.
Dec. 4, 1861

Executive Mansion


My dear Madam,

I take great pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of your letter of Nov. 26; and in thanking you for the present by which it was accompanied. A pair of socks so fine, and soft, and warm, could hardly have been manufactured in any other way than the old Kentucky fashion. Your letter informs me that your maiden name was Crume, and that you were raised in Washington county, Kentucky, by which I infer that an uncle of mine by marriage was a relative of yours. Nearly, or quite sixty years ago, Ralph Crume married Mary Lincoln, a sister of my father, in Washington county, Kentucky.

Accept my thanks, and believe me

Very truly

Your friend

A. Lincoln.

Here is an image of the letter itself, courtesy of the Lilly Library at Indiana University, who have possession of it.

From the I.U. Digital Archives

The Ralph Crume to whom Lincoln refers as his uncle by marriage was Susannah Crume Weathers’s cousin. But in fact, the relation may have been much closer. From what I can tell, there is no documentary proof, but Susannah’s father, Daniel Crume, is believed to have had a common-law marriage with Mary Ada Lincoln around 1791, and supposedly even had two daughters with her before separating from her, at which point she married Ralph Crume, Daniel’s nephew. If this is true, then President Lincoln’s aunt was Susannah’s step-mother. But as I said, my cursory research hasn’t turned up any solid evidence. At the very least, the Ralph connection appears to be real.

Susannah Crume was born in 1782 in Shenandoah County, Virginia, but spent most of her childhood in Kentucky. It was there (in Washington County, which Lincoln refers to above) that she married Jesse Weathers in 1804. She appears to have moved to Indiana around 1811, and lived in Clinton County by 1840.

One thought on “President Lincoln’s Letter to a Rossville Relative

  1. I believe that your information is entirely correct. I am a direct descendent of Susannah Crume. She is my fourth great grandmother. It is such a great story and a great letter from President Lincoln. Thank you for publishing it.

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