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Strong, Matilda E.

Born: 1822-XX-XX Kentucky

Died: 1851-02-07 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Alternate name: Edwards

Matilda E. Strong was an Illinois socialite, daughter of Cyrus Edwards, cousin of Ninian W. Edwards, and sister-in-law of William Strong. She was the oldest of six children born to Cyrus Edwards and his first wife, Nancy Reed Edwards. Nine years old when Cyrus brought her to Alton, Illinois, Matilda attended classes at the Monticello Female Seminary near Alton. She spent the winter of 1840-41 at the home of Ninian W. Edwards in Springfield, Illinois, attracting the attention of Abraham Lincoln and other eligible bachelors. She became the roommate and rival of Mary Todd. Lincoln purportedly fell in love with Matilda in the autumn of 1840, and this prompted him to break his engagement to Mary. After receiving numerous marriage proposals, Matilda became engaged to Newton D. Strong, the brother of William Strong and an old legal acquaintance of Lincoln's. The couple married in at Cyrus Edward's home on September 24, 1844. The couple resided in Alton until 1846, when Newton and Matilda moved to Reading, Pennsylvania, where Newton entered into a legal practice with his brother--Newton handling the bulk of the case load while William was away in Congress. While living in Reading, Matilda occupied herself with household duties and church, and she was a member of the Ladies Benevolent Society, which operated a soup kitchen on Franklin Street. Matilda died unexpectedly on a trip to Philadelphia.

Gravestone, Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, PA; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:181-83; J. Bennett Nolan, "Of A Tomb in the Reading Cemetery and the Long Shadow of Abraham Lincoln," Pennsylvania History 19 (July 1952), 273-92; Benjamin W. Dwight, The History of the Descendant of Elder John Strong, of Northampton, Mass. (Albany, NY: Joel Munsell, 1871), 2:1048.