October 18, 2021

Tales from the Archives: “Lincoln Family Settled In Berks,” Oct 3, 1932

This article comes out of a multi-year effort to index the “hanging clip files”—which are articles and pictures cut from newspapers and other sources over the past 100 years or so, lovingly saved by our wise predecessors at the library—that take up many long drawers in the Bethlehem Room. From time to time as we go through this trove of local information we’ll feature an interesting article to let people know what kinds of things are hanging out in our local history archive.

“Lincoln Family Settled In Berks”
Public Ledger, October 3, 1932

Sometimes old newspaper articles are fascinating both for what they say, and for how and where it was said. In this article, about the house built by Mordecai Lincoln (Abraham’s great-great-grandfather) in Berks County near Reading, we learn about the president’s family history in our area, which is fairly extensive over the first half of the nineteenth century.

Near the beginning of the article we are informed, “Today the building is owned by John B. Hoffman, a Socialist,” who farms there and holds regular socialist meetings. Why is this short paragraph such a prominent part of the article? Well, Reading is one of the few cities in the U.S. to elect a socialist mayor, J. Henry Stump. And, in fact, he was elected to three terms between 1927 and 1947. And so the article is giving us some interesting context for our region’s political history.

Which brings our attention to the source of the article, the Public Ledger. This was a daily newspaper published in Philadelphia from 1836-1942. At one time it was hugely popular, and pioneered several innovations in the newspaper business. This article was written near the end of the paper’s impressive run, and it is one of the very few from that publication that we’ve come across in our collection so far. How did it end up there? Who preserved it and contributed it to us?

Incidentally, the Mordecai Lincoln House can still be seen out in beautiful Berks County. It is privately owned by a person of undisclosed political beliefs.
























Local History