Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie, 29 March 18501Springfield, March 29. 1850Dear Gillespie–
I suppose you are well acquainted at Greenville, and attend court there regularly– There are, at or near that place, two brothers, and a brother-in-law, by the names of Richard Briggs, Henry Briggs, and James Bradford– They have a niece here, a near neighbor of mine, by the name of Stout, formerly Huldah Briggs, who thinks they have wronged her in relation to the estates of her grand-father and grand-mother Briggs— and she is resolved to be righted if possible– I doubt not she confidently believes in the justice of her cause; and she has so far convinced me, that I strongly sympathise with her, and intend to not drop the case till I know more about it– She writes them, and they will not answer her— itself a suspicious circumstance– Now I desire you, as a favor to me, when next you are there, to see them, and tell them of this determination of hers, and notify them to do her justice, either by giving her, her own, or taking the small trouble of convincing her, that they have nothing of hers– Generally, find out all you can, in your own way, about the matter, and write the result to Ebenezer Stout, the lady's husband, at this place– Write him, because I shall be absent on the Circuit.2
<Page 2>The grand-father died in Massachusetts; and the grand-mother in Bond county,whither it is thought she brought effects of her husband, and where she certainly drew a large pension for several years—3
Whether there was any administration in Bond, of the effects of either, you can readily see–
Please attend to this without failure; and I will do as much, with interest, for you, on demand–4Yours as everA. Lincoln–
2Lincoln was away from Springfield traveling the Eighth Judicial Circuit from April 6 to April 22.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 6 April 1850, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1850-04-06; 22 April 1850, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1850-04-22.
3In September 1832, Richard Briggs, Sr., Huldah B. Stout’s grandfather and Revolutionary War veteran, appeared before the Probate Court of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, seeking a pension under provisions of an act passed by the U.S. Congress on June 7, 1832. Briggs succeeded in his claim, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts placed him on its pension rolls at the rate of $480 per annum dating from March 4, 1831. Richard Briggs, Sr. died in 1835, and in September 1839, Huldah R. Briggs, Richard’s widow, appeared before the County Commissioners Court of Bond County seeking a widow’s pension under provisions of an act passed by Congress on July 7, 1838. Huldah R. Briggs succeeded in her petition, and in December 1839, the state of Illinois placed her on its widow pension rolls at the rate of $480 per annum dating from March 4, 1836.
“An Act Supplementary to the ‘Act for the Relief of Certain Surviving Officers and Soldiers of the Revolution,’” 7 June 1832, Statutes at Large of the United States 4 (1846):529-30; “An Act Granting Half Pay and Pensions to Certain Widows,” 7 July 1838, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):303; Affidavit by Richard Briggs, 11 September 1832; Affidavit by Huldah R. Briggs, 2 September 1839, U.S. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900, NARA Microfilm Publication M804, 2,670 rolls, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, RG 15. National Archives, Washington, DC.
4Joseph Gillespie’s response, if he wrote one, has not been located. On February 15, 1850, Lincoln had also written John Tillson inquiring about the matter. Tillson responded to Lincoln on March 6, 1850, but Tillson’s letter has not been located.
Huldah R. Briggs died intestate. Her grandson, James Bradford, became administrator of her estate in January 1844. In his final accounting of the estate to the probate court of Bond County in March 1849, he certified that the estate had never contained assets of any kind.
Daniel W. Stowell, et. al., eds., The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 4:217; Affidavit of Decease, 18 January 1844; Final Account, 2 March 1849, Hulda Briggs Probate File, Papers of Abraham Lincoln Book Edition Files and Cases Files, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL. The original probate file is housed at the Bond County Courthouse, Greenville, IL.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Chicago Historical Society (Chicago, IL).