Joseph S. Copes to Abraham Lincoln, 8 April 18581
Abram. Lincoln, Esq[Esquire]Springfield.Dear Sir
At the suggestion of a mutual friend whom I have known & revered many years— Rev. James Smith, D. D. I address you.
My object is, on behalf of orphan children, to inquire concerning the present condition of a tract of about 1000 acres more or less– I am not certain as to the amount of land, which lies in your county & some years ago belonged to Mr. Abram A. Halsey & Mr. E. Lane, the former of Mississippi & now deceased,— the latter, I think, now of Oxford, Ohio.2 My object is to learn specially whether any title remains in Mr. Halsey's children?3 I have written to Mr. Lane, but recd.[received] no
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reply & fear he may deem it an annoyance if I do so again.
I think they owned it jointly; but am not quite certain of it. My impression is that it was situated to the South East of your county seat; but of this I am by no means sure.4 They owned it in or about the years 1835 to 1840, & I have heard something of their intention to donate it to the Amer. Bd. Comrs. for Foreign Missions. Whether this was ever done by Mr. Halsey I do not know. His children— one of whom is with me, get nothing from their father, he having died abroad & insolvent; tho.[though] always a most excellent & pious man, and ^they^ very much need any thing that may be justly theirs.5 From what Dr Smith tells me of you Sir, I feel that you are just the person to whom they can apply with the best assurances of having their title fairly examined & truly stated to them.
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Please let me hear from you at your earliest convenience & if you deem it proper meantime to incur any moderate expense in ascertaining the facts about which I inquire I will cheerfully remit to you for that purpose, as well as for your professional services.6
I enclose you a circular of a firm with which I was, until 1st inst. connected & the business of which I now retain alone.7
All the references at foot, know me personally.
With great respect I am Sir
Yours very truly
J. S. Copes.

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Cor.[Corner] Camp & Poydras Sts.[Streets],
[New Orleans] La.[Louisiana]
A. Lincoln, Esq[Esquire]Atty[Attorney] at LawSpringfieldIllinois
[ docketing ]
J. S. Copes8

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[ endorsement ]
^I must^ See Jesse A. Pickrell about this letter.9
[ endorsement ]
that is so.10
1Joseph S. Copes wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the envelope.
2Ebenezer Lane purchased a significant amount of land in Illinois, the majority—more than 7,200 acres—in 1836. Most of it was located in Sangamon County. His most recently recorded acquisition of land in Sangamon prior to this letter was just under 100 acres in 1853. The few records found for land purchased in Illinois by Abram A. Halsey amount to a little over 100 acres in La Salle County. For a full list of Ebenezer Lane’s land purchases in Sangamon County, search “Lane Ebenezer” and “Lane Ebinezer,”
Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales, Sangamon County, 70:166, 825:56; LaSalle County, L5A:115, 117, R13:8, 9, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.
3Abraham Lincoln responded to this letter informing Copes that he had spoken with Jesse A. Pickrell and learned that the legal title to the land was in Lane’s name, although Halsey was the equitable owner of part of it. Lane sold and conveyed Halsey's part and paid the proceeds to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Halsey's direction.
4The majority of land that Lane purchased in 1836 in Sangamon County was east and northeast of Springfield.
See Lane’s land purchases in Sangamon County,
5Abram A. Halsey had three living children in 1858: Martha, Greenwood L., and John B. Halsey.
Geo. B. Vanderpoel, ed., The Ely Ancestry: Lineage of Richard Ely of Plymouth, England, Who Came to Boston, Mass., About 1655 (New York: Calumet, 1902), 332; Gravestones (Greenwood and John), Greenwood LeFlore Cemetery, Carroll County, MS.
6Lincoln did not charge Copes for the information he discovered.
7The enclosure has not been found. Copes was a medical doctor and perhaps owned a business in that field.
Alcée Fortier, ed., Louisiana: Comprising Sketches of Parishes, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form (Madison, WI: Century Historical Association, 1914), 3:512-13
8Lincoln wrote this docketing.
9Lincoln wrote this endorsement. Lincoln responded to Copes on June 2, 1858 and shared the answers that Pickrell had given to him.
10An unknown person wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 5 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).