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R. Beckwith, 81; President Lincoln's Great-Grandson

December 27, 1985|From Times Wire Services

HARTFIELD, Va. — Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, the last direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln, has died at age 81.

Beckwith, the great-grandson of the 16th President, died Christmas Eve in a nursing home in Saluda, about 45 miles from Richmond.

Elizabeth Young, the family's attorney, said that in later years Beckwith had been afflicted with Parkinson's disease.

"Yes, he was a direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln, the last living descendant of Abraham Lincoln as far as I know," Young said.

Young said Beckwith never discussed his feelings about his famous heritage.

"We didn't talk about anything like that," she said. "Socially, it's not done, and in business I talked about what I was paid to talk about."

Magazine Interview

Last year, Beckwith told an interviewer for Life magazine that in his youth he had enjoyed sailing on Chesapeake Bay, raising Black Angus cattle on his ranch in Hartfield, Va., and car racing.

"I'm a spoiled brat," he said.

Young said that Beckwith never did work steadily. "He lived off his wealth. As far as I know, all the money came from the Lincoln family.

Beckwith's death ended the line Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, began with their four sons. Only one, however, survived to manhood. Edward died in infancy, William Wallace died in 1862 at age 11, and Thomas died in 1871 at age 18.

The eldest, Robert Todd Lincoln, had a law career in Chicago, served as secretary of war under President James A. Garfield, was minister to the Court of St. James and was president of the Pullman company. He died a multimillionaire in 1926 at age 82.

Robert Todd Lincoln and his wife, Mary, had three children. A son, Abraham Lincoln II, died at age 16 while on a trip to Europe in 1890. A daughter, Mary, married Charles Bradley Isham in 1891. They in turn had a son, Lincoln Isham, who died in 1971 in Dorsett, Vt.

1897 Elopement

The third and youngest of Lincoln's grandchildren, Jessie, eloped in 1897 with Warren Beckwith, a classmate and football star at Iowa Wesleyan College.

They had two children: Mary Lincoln Beckwith, who died in 1975, and Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, who was born in Riverside, Ill., on July 19, 1904.

The great-grandson received a law degree from what is now Georgetown University. Beckwith was married three times, but his lawyer said he was childless. His widow, Margaret, lives in Chevy Chase, Md.

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