The Lincolns’ Gifts

Music Box – AC-LR207
Silverplate Coffee Urn - AC-LR718

These two items were gifts from the Lincolns to their family. They bought the silverplate coffee urn for an October 20, 1858, wedding. The couple, Elizabeth Jane Stuart and Christopher Columbus Brown, were respectively Mary’s cousin and a rising lawyer who had passed the bar under examination by Abraham. In this regard, the gift shows how deeply enmeshed the Lincolns were in Springfield’s middle class.

Almost twenty years later, the Lincoln family looked very different. In 1876, only Mary and her son Robert were left of their six-person family. Mary, heavy with grief and alone, remained close with her relatives in Springfield and gifted this music box to her second-eldest sister Frances Todd Wallace. Once wound, it plays 10 songs and still works today. Together, these objects humanize the Lincolns by revealing acts of generosity from them to relatives, both immediate and distant.

Music Box gift of Florence J. Patteson, 1976
Urn gift of Elizabeth Owsley Thunman, 2008


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