Jun 3, 2015

Witness of Lincoln150 honored

April 14-15 2015

150 years after Elizabeth L.C. Dixon
witnessed Lincoln's death

Friday April 14, 1865 at Fords Theater in Washington DC President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth and died the next morning at 7:22 am. 

To commemorate the 150 year anniversary Fords Theater partnered with National Portrait Gallery and National Park Service and hosted around-the-clock public events.

In attendance, anonymously, were the great-great grandchildren of a woman who witnessed President Lincoln's death. She had been summoned by Mary Lincoln for comfort, witnessed President Lincoln's final hours of life and brought her friend, Mary Lincoln back to the White House-- alone.

The woman was Mrs. Elizabeth L.C. Dixon. Her living descendants that attended Fords150 events are grandchildren of her grandchildren

The grandchildren of Elizabeth L.C. Dixon
James Dixon, Francis S. Dixon, Marguerite Dixon Clark, William Corcoran Welling

During the 150 commemoration there was a private viewing of Elizabeth LC Dixon's collection of letters and Civil War relics shared for the first time in 150 years. These artifacts were preserved by grandchildren so that their grandchildren may also be given a glimpse into the lives of the Lincoln's and their personal  friendships.

Who was Elizabeth L.C. Dixon? You can read about her life in Washington by reading her diary written twenty years before the assassination. Elizabeth L. C. Dixon Washington diary 1845-47 was published in 2013 in White House History, issue 33 by great-great granddaughter, Caroline Welling Van Deusen.

YouTube: White House History, Issue 33 including Diary of Elizabeth Dixon

Intro: http://www.whitehousehistory.org/introduction-to-the-transcription-of-the-washington-diary-of-elizabeth-l-c-dixon

In progress: the complete transcription of Elizabeth Dixon diary 1840-41 European Honeymoon Diary to be published by Caroline Van Deusen

Images of the diary by James Welling: http://jameswelling.net/projects/10

Jul 21, 2014

Masterpiece by Lincoln in Connecticut

Discovered at the Wadsworth Atheneum were pages from American history
On a visit to Hartford Connecticut I toured the Wadsworth Atheneum. In the vault there was a safe. From within the safe came the original three page letter dated August 22, 1862 written by President Lincoln to New York Tribune newspaper editor, Horace Greeley.Words from these pages are etched on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial:
My paramount object is to save the Union and is not either to save or destroy slavery...
The historian Phillip Shaw Paludan wrote about the importance of the letter;
 If there is one document that is more often quoted than any other in the argument, debate, or conversation about Lincoln it is the letter that Lincoln wrote on August 22, 1862 to Horace Greeley.
Why is this American treasure at America's oldest art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum ? Dr. James Clarke Welling, president of George Washington University 1871-1894 was given the letter by President Lincoln and retained the original letter his entire life. In 1880, Welling wrote the Emancipation Proclamation in North American Review stating: 
 This letter appeared for the first time in the National Intelligencer on August 23, 1862 and the letter came into my hands from the fact I was one of the editors.
In his 1880 article James Clarke Welling included a facsimile of the letter 'for editorial curiosity'.  

In 1923, Miss Elizabeth L. Dixon, on behalf of the Welling family and brother in-law, Dr. James Clarke Welling, donated this Lincoln masterpiece to the Wadsworth Atheneum. 

Miss Dixon's father, Sen James Dixon was a life member of this revered institution. Since inception in the 1840s, the Wadsworth Atheneum has served the community as both public art museum, historical society and public library. Philanthropic stewardship by the Dixon-Welling family continued over the years donating family historical treasures to the Hartford Public Library and Connecticut Historical Society. 

May 2, 2014

1863 White House Dinner with Tom Thumb

Invitation sent to Elizabeth LC Dixon
From the President and Mrs. Lincoln 
It was Dixon family legend that during the Civil War our great-great grandmother, Elizabeth L. C. Dixon was a close friend of President and Mrs. Lincoln.

It was only after discovering this White House invitation and other papers in the Dixon-Welling papers at Connecticut Historical Society could we dispel the family lore as fact.

This White House dinner invitation was delivered February of 1863 to Sen. James Dixon and wife Elizabeth L.C. Dixon, our great great grandparents, requesting their presence to dine with the Lincolns at the White House.

What is not obvious from the invitation is the occasion. Could it be a belated birthday celebration for President Lincoln? Quite possible given it had been a year of mourning for Mrs. Lincoln since Willy's death.

The newspapers would report a day after the festive event the small gathering was in celebration of the wedding of P.T. Barnum's famous Gen. Tom Thumb and his new bride, Lavinia Warren.

We can only wonder if Sen.and Mrs. Dixon knew in advance who the guests of honor would be that evening.  The Dixon's had been well acquainted with "teenie" Tom Thumb and PT years before.  Each had been residents of Connecticut but this wasn't the thread that bound them. This odd foursome had became intimate friends in 1840 aboard the Great Western steamship. Barnum on his way to London and the Dixon's on their way to Europe for their honeymoon tour.

An excerpt of the 1840s Honeymoon diary, Elizabeth Dixon describes Tom Thumb as: 
The pigmy dandy Tittletat Titmouse in plain homespun language, with his ringlets always in tight curl, blue embroidered cravat, diamonds and rings, but all he could do, it would "take nine of him to make a man". He used always to jump over the seat and I was expecting he would alight in the astral lamp over his head and if he had I don't know how we should ever have got him out, he was so small.
Other than that diary excerpt we know little about their associations after attended the February 1863 White House dinner. 
Found in the private collection of the Dixon family is this CDV of Mrs. Tom Thumb and her baby, given to Mrs. Dixon as a keepsake and preserved for the last 150 years as a reminder of the past and forgotten Civil War friendships.
Mrs. Tom Thumb 

For information about Tom Thumb's visit:

Mar 26, 2014

1864 Influence of Mrs. Dixon

Letter From Lincoln to Gen. Grant:

Executive Mansion
Washington, March 29, 1864
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GRANT, Army of the Potomac: Captain Kinney, of whom I spoke to you as desiring to go on your staff, is now in your camp, in company with Mrs. Senator Dixon. Mrs. Grant and I, and some others, agreed last night that I should, by this dispatch, kindly call your attention to Captain Kinney.   A. LINCOLN.
 Mrs. ELC Dixon visits nephews
Ernest L. Kinney, Nathaniel C. Kinney
General Grant replied on the same day:
Your dispatch suggesting Capt. Kinney for a staff appointment just recd. I would be glad to accommodate Capt Kinney but in the selection of staff I do not want any one whom I do not personally know to be qualified for the position assigned them.'

 Kinney didn't get the promotion and CW Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 7.Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.Captain Kinney has not been positively identified. Mrs. Dixon was presumably the wife of James Dixon. 

Referring URL: http://wiki.lincolntelegrams.com/index.php?title=March_29,_1864_(2)

Dec 20, 2013

Lincoln's Paramount object was to save the Union

Exclusively reproduced for the first time in 150 years

President Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley

Museum Archival Prints of the original letter penned by President Lincoln to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862 are now available for the first time in 150 years.  The prints are available exclusively through Caroline Welling Van Deusen, great granddaughter of letter owner, Dr. James Clarke Welling and great niece of Miss Elizabeth L. Dixon, who donated the letter on behalf of the Dixon-Welling family in 1923 to the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut. To verify this provenance, included with each print set is a copy of the gift receipt given by the Wadsworth Atheneum in acknowledgement of the donation of the letter to the Dixon-Welling family.  For additional details of items in the Dixon-Welling family collection visit:    http://citizenarchivist.omeka.net  To order additional prints contact: info@thegreeleyletter.com

Oct 28, 2013

Published Diary of Elizabeth L. C. Dixon 1845-1847

The White House Neighborhood
 and the War Unseen 1846–1848

The complete transcription of Diary of Elizabeth L. C. Dixon was published in White House History, Issue 33, by White House Historical Association.
Portrait of Elizabeth L. C. Dixon
Photo credit: Elizabeth Welling Regan

Diary of Elizabeth L.C. Dixon
Transcribed and submitted for publication by Caroline Welling Van Deusen

Extracts of the Diary of Elizabeth Dixon

Journal Written During a Residence in Washington during the 29th Congress.
Commencing with the first of December 1845. Elizabeth L. C. Dixon

To order your copy:


Oct 24, 2013

Relic From Mary Lincoln

To Elizabeth Dixon in gratitude from
family of Mary Todd Lincoln

President Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln's friendship with Elizabeth L.C. Dixon is noted in White House History journal by White House Historical Association. Link to Issue 33: White House History journal authors page 

Aug 22, 2012

August 22, 1862 Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley: Editing Mr. Lincoln

On August 22, 1862 President Lincoln wrote a public letter to Horace Greeley and gave it to National Intelligencer editor, James Clarke Welling, to be published the next day in his newspaper.

President Lincoln's private secretary, John  Nicolay recalled;

On August 22, 1862 President Lincoln wrote an open letter to Horace Greeley, editor of New York Tribune. This letter, which has become famous in history, he sent to the National Intelligencer for publication.
Dr. James Clarke Welling was at that time the editor in charge, and he did what few young editors would have ventured upon. He wanted to make a change to Lincoln’s text so he immediately carried the manuscript back to the President, and suggested its omission. President Lincoln good-naturedly complied, not that he was convinced of the alleged imperfection, but because he never stubbornly resisted advice where only trifles were concerned.
Recollections of John Nicolay
Private Secretary to President Lincoln
Princeton College Bulletin
Volume VII; April, 1895

From an early age, James Clarke Welling was passionate about historical accuracy. His college thesis at Princeton was Causes of Historical Discrepancies.

In 1880 Welling made another revision to the Lincoln-Greeley letter, Aug. 22, 1862. He referred to the original letter in his possession and corrected the misprinted word from "this" union to "the" union.

Jan 1, 2012

1862 Lincolns Proclamation Draft Preserved

Lincoln's Proclamation
Written July 25th, 1862
The original manuscript of President Lincoln's Proclamation, written July 25, 1862 was a prelude to the Emancipation Proclamation. James C. Welling donated the manuscript to the New Jersey Committee at the 1864 Great Fair of Philadelphia. 

The manuscript was sold by lottery and the lucky bidder was Anne Hampton Brewster, who bequeathed her books, manuscripts and maps to the Library Company of Philadelphia.
The donation to The Great Central Fair
Original manuscript of the proclamation of President Lincoln
as of July 25, 1862 by James Clarke Welling, Ed, N. Intl.
Anne Hampton Brewster playfully called a social outlaw
 by friend, Genevieve. 

Anne Hampton Brewster's friend was Genevieve Welling Wigfall, daughter of James Clarke Welling. 


Anne Hampton Brewster: 19th-century Author and "Social Outlaw"


Jul 27, 2011

1861 Jul 27 Lincoln Letter to MD Congressmen

From the Dixon-Welling archives:  

This letter, written July 27, 1861 by President Lincoln is housed at the Connecticut Historical Society in the Dixon-Welling family papers donated in 1936 by Miss Elizabeth Dixon Welling, (1885-1976), the daughter of Dr. James Clarke Welling (1825-1894).

During the Civil War, James C. Welling worked as assistant clerk at the US Court of Claims and as editor of the National Intelligencer newspaper.

At this time in 2015, his descendant, writing this blog post does not know how or why Welling was given the letter.

Here is the text of the letter:  

July 27, 1861 letter from President Lincoln to Md members of the House of Representatives:

Hon. Edwin Webster, J.W. Crisfield, C.S.S. Seay, Charles B. Calvert. Gentlemen:---Yours of to-day, with the enclosure from Mr. Ridgely, has been received and referred to General Scott, as I know nothing whatever of the particular case.  May I beg you to consider the difficulties of my position and solicit your kind assistance in it?
Our security in the seizing of arms for our destruction will amount to nothing at all, if we are never to make mistakes in searching a place where there are none.I shall continue to do the very best I can to discriminate between true and false men. In the mean time, let me, once more, beg your assistance in allaying irritations which are unavoidable. Yours, very truly, A. LINCOLN

The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln represented the first major scholarly effort to collect and publish the complete writings of Abraham Lincoln, and the edition has remained an invaluable resource to Lincoln scholars.

From Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4
To Unidentified Persons [1]

[c. September 15, 1861?]


[1} Hertz, II, 856. The letter addressed to Maryland members of the House of Representatives: Hon. Edwin Webster, J.W. Crisfield, C.S.S. Seay, Charles B. Calvert. 

Hertz printed this letter without date or other reference. No trace of the original manuscript has been found, but the contents of the letter suggest that it may have been written at the time of the Baltimore arrests. The fact that Lincoln answers on the same date the incoming letter was written, suggests that his correspondents were not farther away than Baltimore. ``Mr. Ridgely'' may have been James L. Ridgely, whom Lincoln appointed collector of internal revenue at Baltimore in December, 1862.

On the same day President Lincoln sends communication to House of Representatives regarding arrest of Baltimore police commissioners. 

To the House of Representatives [1]

In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 24th instant, asking the grounds, reasons, and evidence upon which the police commissioners of Baltimore were arrested, and are now detained as prisoners at Fort McHenry, I have to state that it is judged to be incompatible with the public interest at this time to furnish the information called for by the resolution.

Washington, July 27, 1861. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.


[1]   Thirty-seventh Congress, First Session, House of Representatives Executive Document No. 16. 

The arrest of the police commissioners of Baltimore for secession activities was ordered by Winfield Scott,
 June 24, 1861 (OR, I, II, 138-39).

This letter, written July 27, 1861 by President Lincoln is housed at the Connecticut Historical Society, from the private collection of Dr. James Clarke Welling.

During the Civil War, Welling worked both as assistant clerk at the US Court of Claims and as editor of the National Intelligencer newspaper.

How did this letter come into Welling's hands? Was it through his role as editor or clerk?

Jul 20, 2011

1861 July 20 Sen. Dixon of CT witnesses Bull Run

Saturday, July 20, 1861 
Sec. Simon Cameron returns from Gen. McDowell's  headquarters at Manassas, Va., and reports orally to President on preparation of army for impending battle.

Sunday, July 21, 1861. President Lincoln returns to White House about 7 P.M. and learns from Sec. Seward that battle has been lost. Remains awake all night, listening to stories of senators and congressmen returning from battlefield.

Dec 31, 2010

1860 National Intelligencer: JC Welling editor

In 1860, Hon. William Seaton, surviving editor of the National Intelligencer
announced James C. Welling as editor of editorial content. 

Ex-President Buchanan supports National Intelligencer 
Official organ for the Administration

* Aside: Now 150 years later reading through those historical Civil War manuscripts preserved by the editor of the National Intelligencer, James Clarke Welling, it seems a bit like touching history...  so fascinating... fertile soil and seed from which this blog hath bloomed.

Dec 1, 2010

Dixon - Welling Life Before and After

For a glimpse back in time and estate of the family of Sen. James Dixon in Hartford  head to Hartford, Connecticut, and head west from the downtown area.

On the left side of Farmington Avenue, in what is now historical neighborhood of Asylum Hill, you will see the site where once stood Rose-Mount, the estate of Senator James Dixon, his wife, Elizabeth Lord Cogswell and their children.

The Dixons purchased the tract of 14 acres of land in 1840 and built was a large mansion, several small out-buildings and a barn. Their beautiful gardens, inspired them to name their home: Rose-Mount. Mrs. Sigourney wrote in of the the Dixon's wonderful home;
Lydia Huntley Sigourney 1791–1865
Close friend and mentor of Elizabeth L.C. Dixon
"Many of the residences on Asylum Hill are conspicuous for their elegance and grace. Among these, Rose-Mount, the seat of James Dixon, Esq., is particularly distinguished by the.extent and arrangement of its grounds. Fourteen acres, highly cultivated, are divided into lawns, gardens, and groves, and embellished with parterres of flowers, hedges, and a variety of shrubs, fruits, and forest-trees. All is found here to constitute a delightful retirement for the man of letters and of taste, where cultivated intellect may enjoy the luxuries of literature, or woo the willing muse." Scenes In My Native Land [1]
Paradise Lost  The Dixon–Welling Place

Over the years, Rose-Mount became known as the Dixon–Welling Place, daughter Clementine married James C. Welling, editor of Washington, D.C newspaper National Intelligencer and was host to many of our nation's most celebrated writers, poets, dignitaries and military leaders of the day. For more than 70 years the Dixon and Welling family lived here until 1929 when they sold the 12 acre property to the Aetna Insurance Company.

Today, the only remnants of this paradise lost are several copper beach trees on the grounds and the Dixon’s large bell that hung outside the main house to summon the gardeners.

Oct 2, 2010

Lost Footprints Found

Imagine you discovered Civil War relics that confirmed someone in your family witnessed the death of President Lincoln. This is precisely what happened to me.

Found within our family collection of Civil War relics are artifacts left our great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth L. C. Dixon that confirmed she witnessed that fateful night and details of her close friendship with the Lincoln's - from their first days in Washington, until their last. 

The writing and relics left by Elizabeth L. C. Dixon, preserved over generations, offer an intimate glimpse into the past, from a new vantage point. 

So, 'Why was her friendship with the Lincoln's overlooked in history?' and 'Why am I the first of her children to share this trove of Civil War treasures publicly? The answers to these questions may surprise you. 

Over the last decade, after discovering dozens and dozens of Civil War relics, papers, diaries, photographs in our family's basements, attics and historical societies it has become clear that our family has needed these 150 years to heal -- Elizabeth L. Dixon must have been an archetype for the following generations and we have had to wait until her children's children's children were grown that her relics would be found and details of her friendship with the Lincolns finally shared, publicly.

The first of Elizabeth Dixon's writings; 'The Diary of Elizabeth Dixon', 1845-47' was featured in 'White House History', Issue 33, published by the White House Historical Association. 

For details go to:

Twenty years before she witnessed Lincoln's deathbed she wrote at the end of her diary;
" I wonder if this will be of interest in after years, for that was my intent on writing it, a giddy life but my head was not turned by it". 

A stark contrast to her words in 1865, she never could have imagined what was in store for her, but we know don't we?

Oct 1, 2010

Begin at the End

In the 1950's the New York Times published text of a letter, discovered in a New Jersey attic, by a woman giving her eyewitness account of President Lincoln's death.

In the letter she recounted being awoken the night of April 14, 1865 and taken by carriage to a house where Lincoln lay dying and how she comforted her friend named Mary Lincoln, staying through the night-long vigil and in the morning taking Mary Lincoln, the lonely widow, back to the White House.

The letter was written by Mrs. Elizabeth L. Dixon, my great-great grandmother. In 2000, a curious urge prompted me to follow up to confirm or dispel this supposed friendship shared by the Lincolns and my family so with little more to go on than the 1950s New York Times article I set out combing history books and online sources for articles about Lincoln. Posted on this blog are the relics and footprints discovered.