Baby Lincoln's marker will be donated to National Park

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By Linda Ireland

A triangular piece of limestone has been donated to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park.
The stone is believed to be the original grave marker for Thomas Lincoln Jr. – the younger brother of Abraham Lincoln. It will be unveiled at a Feb. 12 ceremony in the Visitor Center at the Park.
Local Attorney Carl Howell Jr., a longtime collector of Lincoln memorabilia, came into possession of the marker in the 1970s. He displayed it at his family’s Nancy Lincoln Inn adjacent to the Park.
“I’ve had people come from all over the United States (to see it),” said Howell. Many have asked to have a photograph made of them holding the marker.
The gravestone was discovered in 1933 in the George Redmond Family Cemetery on a knoll overlooking the Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek near Athertonville.
The “TL” carved into the stone matches letters found in cabinets made by Thomas Lincoln Sr.
The infant is believed to have been born in 1812 – and probably lived a few days. The Lincoln family lived at Knob Creek between 1811 and 1816.
The baby was mentioned once in Abraham Lincoln’s letters. When he ran for president in 1860, John L. Scripps of the Chicago Press & Tribune asked him to write an autobiography. In it, Lincoln wrote of “a brother, younger than himself, who died in infancy.”
Historians are not positive the baby was named “Thomas.” It is an assumption only.
“It makes you wonder what he would have accomplished (had he lived),” said Howell.
The Redmond cemetery became overgrown and some of the markers – including baby Lincoln’s – sank into the ground. There was debate over the baby’s existence and the place of its burial.
Several historians wrote the baby was placed in an unmarked grave at Little Mount Separate Baptist Church in what is now the Leafdale area, as the Lincolns placed membership there.
The TL stone was found in 1933 by Work Progress Administration (New Deal) workers who were hired to clean up rural cemeteries. Foreman James Taylor, a descendant of George Redmond, told a reporter that his family had always told about George carrying the baby’s coffin up the hill from the Lincoln cabin.
The stone was placed in storage and eventually sold. Boy Scout Post 15 of Des Moines, Iowa, purchased a new marker in 1959 for the baby.
William Justice, superintendent at the Park, said the grave marker will be placed in an exhibit case in the Visitor Center’s lobby. The unveiling ceremony will be at 2:30 p.m.