- August 12, 2020
This week marks the 211th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Still, most people do not realize that this beloved political icon has a significant tie to Williamsport. With that same connection, Williamsport is also linked to legendary pioneer woodsman, Daniel Boone. William Winters was a land speculator and landowner from the area near
This week marks the 211th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Still, most people do not realize that this beloved political icon has a significant tie to Williamsport. With that same connection, Williamsport is also linked to legendary pioneer woodsman, Daniel Boone.
William Winters was a land speculator and landowner from the area near Reading in Berks County. At the age of 19, he married Ann Boone, sister of Daniel Boone, the legendary frontiersman, and pioneer.
Their union produced 11 children, and among these children was Hannah Winters, who was their oldest daughter. She would end up moving to Rockingham County, Virginia, where she would meet and marry Abraham Lincoln, who was the namesake and would become grandfather to President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln owned a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and supposedly visited his father-in-law, William Winters, at what is now Williamsport, around 1780.
Lincoln had moved to Kentucky and, according to John Linn’s “History of Centre County,” passed through the Bellefonte area on his way back to Kentucky, accompanied by his brother-in-law, John Winters, after having left from William Winters’ farm here in the Williamsport area.
Hannah and Abraham Lincoln’s son, Thomas was born, and later married Nancy Hanks, and they were to become the parents of the future President of United States, who would bear his grandfather’s name.
Lincoln’s great-grandfather, William Winters, played a role in the events leading to the founding of Williamsport.
According to a 1986 Grit article, citing John Meginness’ monumental “History of Lycoming County,” in 1778, Winters purchased a tract of land belonging to Amariah Sutton, that was located in the area which is now in the western part of the city of Williamsport, just east of Lycoming Creek.
In 1791, Winters bought another 287 acres, which was known as the “Virginia Tract,” from his brother-in-law, Hawkins Boone, brother of the famous Daniel Boone. This is the same tract of land on which the city of Williamsport would be laid out when it was designated the county seat of Lycoming County in 1796.
Shortly before Winters’ death in 1794, he sold this tract of land to Michael Ross, the founder of Williamsport. Some of the first court sessions of the new Lycoming County were held at Winters’ former farmhouse in the area near what is today the intersection of Rose and West Fourth streets. These sessions were held in 1796 and 1797 in the house that was occupied by Winters’ second wife, Eleanor Campbell Winters. His first wife, Hannah, died in 1771. It is unknown where Hannah is buried.
Winters died in 1794 and is buried locally. At first, he was buried in the small graveyard in the area of where West Fourth and Cemetery streets, where the former Calvary United Methodist Church now sits. He was later disinterred and re-interred at the Wildwood Cemetery.
Another Williamsport connection to Abraham Lincoln, the “Great Emancipator,” is James Pollock, who served as a former judge of the court of common pleas for Lycoming County, which was then part of the Eighth Judicial District. He also was elected as Governor of Pennsylvania in 1854.
Pollock was born in Milton and later served with Abraham Lincoln in the U.S. House of Representatives. The two became good friends, having resided at the same Washington boardinghouse. Later, after Lincoln became President, he named Pollock as director of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. It was at Pollock’s behest that all U.S. coins and currency were inscribed with the words, “In God We Trust.”
So, as you can see, Williamsport has quite a connection to our beloved 16th President and the 211th anniversary of his birth is a period of celebration but also one of reflection in which we pause to remember and consider his significant place in the history of this republic.