Monday, September 27, 2010

A Speed Connection?

Dian Moore, Reference/Local History staff member, recently wrote about a genealogy project she completed:

"You just never know where you will end when you start genealogy research. Tamara Hemmerlein of the Montgomery County Historical Society and the Lane Place asked me to see if there was any connection between John A. Speed, who was a conductor and station master on the Underground Railroad, and Joshua Speed, considered to be Lincoln's best friend (Joshua Speed was from Louisville, Kentucky, and had a store near Springfield, Illinois). The possibility of a connection between John A. Speed and Lincoln through Joshua Speed seemed slight.

I found three apparently unrelated Speed families in Montgomery County but had no luck until I looked at the obituary for Thomas S. Speed. Thomas Speed was from Kentucky, but his wife, Margaret Hawkins, was an Indianapolis native who lived some time in Crawfordsville. Margaret's sister, Miriam, married Thomas's brother, John J. Speed, in Crawfordsville, on April 17, 1839. Thomas was also a "near relative" (as stated in his Crawfordsville Weekly Journal obituary of April 9, 1892) of James B. Speed, who was Attorney General under Abraham Lincoln. Joshua Speed – Lincoln’s friend – was the brother of James B. Speed.

It appears that John A. Speed had no connection whatsoever with Lincoln – but I did find a tenuous local connection to Lincoln through Thomas S. Speed’s brother who may never have come to Montgomery County but who married a woman who lived in Crawfordsville.

More research showed that another sister of Margaret Hawkins, Louisa, married Edward Canby, one of Crawfordsville's five Civil War Generals. To top it off, John P. Hawkins – brother to Margaret, Miriam, and Louisa – was also one of Crawfordsville’s five Civil War generals."

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