Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith

Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith (July 19, 1904 – December 24, 1985) was an American gentleman farmer known as a great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln.[1] In 1975, he became the last undisputed descendant of Lincoln when his sister, Mary Lincoln Beckwith, died without children.[2] A purported son, Timothy Lincoln Beckwith, was born to second wife Annemarie Hoffman Beckwith in the midst of divorce proceedings in 1968, but Robert Beckwith contended—and the court agreed—that his paternity was highly unlikely, as he had undergone a vasectomy in the early 1960s.

Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith
Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith.jpg
Born(1904-07-19)July 19, 1904
DiedDecember 24, 1985(1985-12-24) (aged 81)
OccupationGentleman farmer
Spouse(s)
Hazel Holland Wilson (m. 1927)

Annemarie Hoffman (m. 1967)

Margaret Hogan Fristoe (m. 1979)
Parent(s)Warren Wallace Beckwith
Jessie Harlan Lincoln
RelativesAbraham Lincoln (maternal great-grandfather)

Early lifeEdit

Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith was born in Riverside, Illinois, to Jessie Harlan Lincoln[3] and Warren Wallace Beckwith. Jessie's parents were Robert Todd Lincoln—a son of Abraham Lincoln—and Mary Eunice Harlan. Jessie eloped in 1897 with Warren Beckwith, a classmate and football star at Iowa Wesleyan College. Before their divorce in 1907, they had two children: Mary Lincoln Beckwith, who died in 1975, and Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith.[1][4]

Beckwith attended a private school in Washington, D.C., and New York Military Academy in Cornwall, New York, in addition to spending two years at his grandfather Robert Todd Lincoln's previous boarding school, Phillips Exeter Academy. He later received a law degree from what is now Georgetown University.[1]

AdulthoodEdit

Beckwith enjoyed boating and sailing and generally avoided the media and publicity. On one occasion, a newspaper published pictures of him as a young man when he was arrested for speeding in Omaha, Nebraska.

Beckwith's mother died in 1948 and in later life, he gave his profession as "gentleman farmer of independent means", his inheritance having included a working farm in Middlesex County, Virginia.[4][5][6]

Beckwith was a representative for Illinois Day as part of the 1964 New York World's Fair.[6] In June 1965, he received an honorary doctorate degree from his parents' school, Iowa Wesleyan College.[1] Also in 1965, he was a guest of honor at Chicago's commemoration ceremony upon the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's funeral.[6]

In 1967, Beckwith was quoted as saying he "was not especially interested" in his ancestors' life in the White House. He did however retain some Lincoln memorabilia, most of which he gave to the state of Illinois, and Lincoln's rifle which he later gave to the Smithsonian Institution.[1][6]

MarriagesEdit

Beckwith married three times, first to Hazel Frances Holland (formerly Wilson; 1899–1966), in March 1927, second to Annemarie Hoffman (born c. 1940), in November 1967, and third to Margaret Elizabeth Hogan (formerly Fristoe; 1921–2009), in 1979.[7] His marriage to Holland lasted nearly four decades, ending with her death in 1966, his marriage to Hoffman lasted a month shy of nine years, ending in divorce in September 1976, and his marriage to Hogan ended with his own death, in 1985.

Beckwith never publicly acknowledged paternity for any child, making him the last confirmed descendant of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. However, he did have step-children through his marriages to Holland and Hogan and Hoffman alleged that her son, Timothy Lincoln Beckwith (born 1968), was fathered by him, but her failure to present the child for paternity testing coupled with proof Beckwith had undergone a vasectomy some years prior to the child's birth lead to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to declare that Beckwith was not the father.[8][9] Despite the court's ruling, Timothy's claims to Beckwith's estate were never terminated, and after Beckwith's death in 1985, charitable organizations that had been named as beneficiaries in Beckwith's will offered Timothy, then 17 years old, a settlement of US$1,000,000 in exchange for giving up any claims to the estate.[10][11][12] Since 1995, Timothy has worked as an assistant state's attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida and maintained a relatively low profile, though articles as to the speculation of his paternity continue to be published.[13][11]

DeathEdit

Beckwith split his life between Vermont and the Washington, D.C. vicinity. He died on December 24, 1985 in Hartfield, Virginia, where he had lived in a nursing home.[1][6]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Last Surviving Descendant of Abraham Lincoln Dies". Associated Press. December 24, 1985. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  2. ^ Lincoln's Last Descendant Dies. Madison Wisconsin Courier, December 26, 1985, from a clipping in Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum.
  3. ^ "Photo of Jessie Lincoln and Her Children". Picture History. c. 1912. Archived from the original on December 17, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Haselmayer, Louis A. (Fall 1968). "Jessie Harlan Lincoln in Iowa". The Annals of Iowa. State Historical Society of Iowa. 39 (6): 421–424. ISSN 0003-4827. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  5. ^ Lachman, Charles (2008). The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family. Sterling Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-4027-5890-4.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Great Grandson's Death Ends Lincoln Family Line". Chicago Tribune. December 26, 1985. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  7. ^ Holley, Joe (March 17, 2009). "Obituary: Margaret Fristoe Beckwith Air Force Wife, Volunteer". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  8. ^ "The Law: Briefs". Law. Time. April 19, 1976. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  9. ^ You, Brenda (April 20, 1994). "The Real End of the Line for Abe". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  10. ^ Kleinberg, Eliot. "Is assistant state attorney last living descendant of Abraham Lincoln?". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  11. ^ a b Huggins, Will. "Indiana museum exhibit tries to debunk Lincoln myths". The Indianapolis Star. USA Today. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  12. ^ Beschloss, Michael (February 28, 1994). "Last of the Lincolns". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Kleinberg, Eliot (February 12, 2018). "Is assistant state attorney last living descendant of Abraham Lincoln?". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved December 15, 2018.