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In Defense of Lincoln in Beaver County

Milestones Vol 28. No. 3

by Attorney Rex Downie

Online Editor's Note: The picture referred to here will be added at a later date.

To those who remain cynical about Lincoln's presence in Beaver County, let me make the following apologia, a challenge to your thinking, about the clear inferences that may arise from the JACK BOYLE ambrotype. Assume, then, for the sake of the following argument, that the Lincoln figure is ambiguous, or not even present in the ambrotype. Then, from the research of Harold Boyer, or your own work, examine carefully the other personages involved, which I divide into categories as follows:

1) The two bodyguards, Col. Elmer Ellsworth and Ward Lamon. These men are clearly and unquestionably present and identified in most of the Lincoln literature.

2) Next examine Lockwood Todd, Francis Todd Wallace and Margaret Todd Kellogg. All of these, clearly and unambiguously, are related through marriage to Mary Todd Lincoln to Abraham Lincoln. All relate to Lincoln's Springfield Ill. life, and are reported to have visited him shortly after his inauguration, which possibly explains their presence as being on a return trip to Illinois.

3) Next examine William Lincoln, age 11 in 1861, and Thomas Lincoln age 8 in 1861, the sons of Lincoln. This is particularly strong in view of the photo of Lockwood Todd with the two boys, which brings in Albert Edwards, a known friend of William Lincoln who appears on the BOYLE as well.

Thus, if you deny the Lincoln presence, what accounts for the presence of these folks, who almost like a "cloud of witnesses" exist also in the photograph? Even if you reject Lincoln, you must as well explain them.

Now, as an anchor to the conclusion I present, take as irrefutable that the Canal boat in question, the JACK BOYLE, was unarguably part of the Beaver Valley scene in 1861 as is the site of the ambrotype, which matches the photo exactly when one stands on the west bank of the Beaver facing east on the first curve above Geneva College.

Now, with the location given, what do you do with the above identities? Do you deny that the body guards, in-laws, and two sons are who they appear to be? Are they fakes, made up to appear as Lincoln intimates? But if that's so, it only raises the larger question of Why? In other words what other nexus could exist for the presence of these people on the Beaver River? Happenstance? They just felt like showing up there? Hardly. Their very presence points in but one direction: That the tall top hatted figure is the family nexus that explains the presence of all, bodyguards, in-laws and children.

Thus, to reject the genuineness of the ambrotype, one must reject as well, without reason, I submit, the whole of the other persona whose identities remain clear based on the existing photographic record, irrespective of the ambrotype. Yet their very independent existence in the photographic record sheds explanatory light on the ambrotype.

Thus, if we return the Lincoln figure to the ambrotype, the whole becomes clear. No puzzle or ambiguity arises regarding the presence of this group of friends and family. Thus the very existence of the surrounding persona carries Lincoln along with them. I rest my case.