[newspaper article hand dated 1973]

BIRMINGHAM - One of Van Buren County's several ties with national history is the fact that the mother of Ann Rutledge, once Abraham Lincoln's sweetheart, lies buried near Birmingham.

Her grave is located in the Bethel Cemetery, about four and a half miles northwest of town, and will be one of the extra attractions on a scheduled tour of homes and other points of interest Oct. 17.

The Van Buren County Historical Society has organized the tour with stops at five homes and several other sites such as the cemetery and the Bonnett School, which is over 100 years old and contains period furnishings.

Lester Lindsay, one of the organizers of the tour, said "It is gratifying to any community to be able to tie itself in some way to history, and historians make much of the romance between Lincoln and Ann Rutledge."

Lincoln lived and boarded with the Rutledge family for a time when he clerked in the New Salem, Ill. store, and it was in the Rutledge home that the romance began. In the summer of 1835, Ann contracted typhoid fever which proved fatal and she died Aug. 25 of that year. A few months later her father died of the same disease.

In 1837, the family came to Iowa, with Mrs. Rutledge and six surviving children settling on a farm next to the Van Buren County and Jefferson county line. They lived in Lick Creek Township two and a half miles northwest of Birmingham, which was laid out as a town two years after their arrival.

The Rutledge family was active in both church and civic life. They were Cumberland Presbyterians and the church they attended was at the crossroads about a mile south of their homestead. The remains of this church with sheds added for farm use still stands in the northeast corner of this crossroad on Woodrow land.

A Rutledge son, Robert, was later appointed by Lincoln as provost marshall [sic] of the First Congressional District of Iowa during the Civil War. He was sheriff of Van Buren County at the time of his appointment.

When Mrs. Rutledge in her declining years moved to Birmingham to live with a daughter, Nancy Prewitt, her son John moved to the old homestead and lived there until his death in 1879.

Mrs. Rutledge, who was blind the last 12 years of her life, lived to be past 91. She died at her daughter's home in Birmingham Dec. 26, 1878. So far, efforts have failed to locate the house where Mrs. Prewitt and Mrs. Rutledge lived.

Local historians say there have been no persons with the Rutledge name living in the area since the mid-1880's. Today the Rutledge farm is owned by Mace Clarridge and the family dwelling is completely gone.

There are six marked Rutledge graves in the eastern half of the Bethel Cemetery. The grave of Mrs. Rutledge is in the northeast section and is marked by a slender marble shaft.

Although 90 years' of weather have softened the inscription, it is still visible and is as follows:

Mary Ann Rutledge
Wife of
Jas. Rutledge
Dec. 26, 1878
91 yrs. 2 mos. 5 ds.
"O mother dear a short farewell that we may meet again above and rove where angels love to dwell where trees of life bear fruits of love."


The grave of Mary Ann Rutledge, mother of Abraham Lincoln's sweetheart, Ann Rutledge, is located in the Bethel Cemetery near Birmingham and will be one of the points of interest on a tour of the Birmingham area sponsored by the Van Buren County Historical Society Oct. 17. Miss Rutledge lived to be over 91. The graves of several other family members are located in the cemetery.


[newspaper article hand dated 1935]

The above is a picture of Bethel Church, northwest of Birmingham. The cemetery near the church is of special historical significance because of the fact that Mrs. Mary Ann Rutledge, mother of Abraham Lincoln's sweetheart, Ann Rutledge, is buried here. At the present time Sunday school is not held here, but Rev. F. M. James, of Cantril, preaches here part of the time.

Source: clippings from scrapbook located in the Van Buren Co. Genealogical Society Library, Keosauqua, IA

Contributed by Volunteer Transcriber Paul French


Van Buren Co. GenWeb Project