You make some pertinent inquiries concerning my
sister and the relations which existed between herself and Mr. Lincoln.
My sister Ann was born January 7, 1813, and died August 25, 1835. She
was born in Kentucky and died in Menard County, Illinois. In 1830, my
sister being then but seventeen years of age, a stranger calling himself
John McNeil came to New Salem. He boarded with Mr. Cameron and was
keeping a store with a Samuel Hill. A friendship grew up between McNeil
and Ann which ripened apace and resulted in an engagement to marry.
McNeil's real name was McNamar. It seems that his father had failed in
business, and his son, a very young man, had determined to make a
fortune, pay off his father's debts and restore him to his former social
and financial standing. With this view he left his home clandestinely,
and in order to avoid pursuit by his parents changed his name. His
conduct was strictly hightoned, honest, and moral, and his object,
whatever any may think of the deception which he practiced in changing
his name, entirely praiseworthy.
He prospered in business and, pending his engagement
with Ann, he revealed his true name, returned to Ohio [actually New
York] to relieve his parents from their embarrassments, and to bring the
family with him to Illinois. On his return to Ohio, several years having
elapsed, he found his father in declining health or dead, and perhaps
the circumstances of the family prevented his immediate return to New
Salem. At all events he was absent two or three years.
In the meantime Mr. Lincoln paid his addresses to
Ann, continued his visits and attentions regularly, and those resulted
in an engagement to marry, conditional to an honorable release from the
contract with McNamar. There is no kind of doubt as to the existence of
this engagement. David Rutledge urged Ann to consummate it, but she
refused until such time as she could see McNamar, inform him of the
change in her feelings, and seek an honorable release. Mr. Lincoln lived
in the village, McNamar did not return, and in August 1835 Ann sickened
and died. The effect upon Mr. Lincoln's mind was terrible; he became
plunged in despair, and many of his friends feared that reason would
desert her throne. His extraordinary emotions were regarded as strong
evidence of the existence of the tenderest relations between himself and
My sister was esteemed the brightest mind of the
family, was studious, devoted to her duties of whatever character, and
possessed a remarkably amiable and lovable disposition. She had light
hair and blue eyes.
R. B. RUTLEDGE TO HERNDON, OCTOBER 1866.
The facts are William Berry first courted Ann and was
rejected; afterwards Samuel Hill; then John McNamar, which resulted in
an engagement to marry at some future time. He, McNamar, left the county
on business, was gone some years; in the meantime and during McNamar's
absence, Mr. Lincoln courted Ann and engaged to marry her, on the
completion of the study of law. In this I am corroborated by James
McRutledge, a cousin about her age, and who was in her confidence. He
says in a letter to me just received: "Ann told me once in coming from a
camp meeting on Rock Creek, that engagements made too far ahead
sometimes failed, that one had failed (meaning her engagement with McNamar),
and gave me to understand that as soon as certain studies were completed
she and Lincoln would be married."
R. B. RUTLEDGE TO HERNDON, NOVEMBER 21,