In a letter to a relative, Abraham Lincoln once wrote that his family “had a vague tradition” that his great-grandfather was a Quaker who migrated from Berks County, Pennsylvania to Virginia. Lincoln’s family tradition was indeed correct, and modern historians are well aware of the time his great-grandfather, John Lincoln (1716-1788), spent in what would later become Berks County. However, what is less well known is that some members of his great-grandfather’s family remained in Berks County.
Inventory of the Berks History Center recently uncovered a shaving mug which belonged to one of these family members, Roswell S. Lincoln (1866-1950) – the third cousin, once removed, of the President. Roswell Lincoln lived at 220 North 9thStreet in Reading and worked as an agent for the Reading Railroad. His attractive shaving mug, engraved with the initials “R.L.” was donated to the Berks History Center in 1967. At the time of the donation, it was assumed that Roswell was the last of the Berks County Lincoln’s – since neither he nor his only sibling had children. Preliminary research suggests this is not the case, however, and Lincoln relatives probably live in Berks County to this day.