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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Abe's Cow, Daphne

Emma Griggs and cow

The following poem was written by Martin Conrad Pinkstaff, who worked at the gas station in Gordon, Illinois. He had been interviewed by Charles Kuralt of “On the Road” fame. The poem is a recount of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s cow, that died along the way as the Lincoln family traveled from Kentucky through Vincennes, Russellville, Palestine, Hutsonville and on up into Coles County, Illinois, where they eventually made their home, just south and west of Charleston, Illinois.

“Abe’s Daphne Died AD 1830

“Wearily they plodded up the river road

Toward the home they would make in County Coles

With their wagon and team, they slowly strode,

Along the rutted road with many chuckholes.

“At Vincennes they had crossed the river Wabash,

Then took the road north with their booted feet

Over Allison Prairie where the settlers’ cash,

Was made by growing good crops of wheat.

“At old Fort Allison they paused to eat,

In the old river port of Russellville.

From their good cow, Daphne they got milk sweet,

To nourish them till they reached Heathville.

“Over the Wilbur Hill they wended their way,

On into County Crawford where they meant to see

Their kinsman, Robert Lincoln, who went this way

Into Crawford, to stay where he wanted to be.

“By sundown they reached the hamlet Heathville,

Where Renick Heath owned a hostelry small,

On the morrow he gave them a friendly farewell,

For the Lincoln’s he liked, tall Abe above all.

“Another day passed; they had passed Fort LaMotte,

And reached the early settlement of Bolivar,

Near the center of the Grand Prairie LaMotte,

But from the river Wabash they still were not far.

“Then Bolivar welcomed them to stay overnight,

And the Lincolns accepted their welcome, with delight.

But with sorrow they were filled when it came daylight,

For Daphne died that night from a copperhead bite.

“With melancholy hearts they dug Daphne’s grave,

After taking her hide, which they wanted to save,

Then their journey resumed, trying hard to be brave,

Toward Bob Lincoln’s farm for a visit to have.

“But though there Daphne died, Bolivar survived

Another half century and then contrived,

To exist no longer and was never revived,

And Daphne’s grave was a marker derived.

“Sadly, through Hutsonville, the Lincolns passed,

Where Daphne’s hide was sold to the merchant Klast.

Then on through Porterville, with noon well passed,

At Robert Lincoln’s farm they arrived at last.

“From Robert’s farm they went to Coles County,

And from Coles County on into History,

And from History on to Immortality,

But Daphne’s memory lingers on in Crawford County.”


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