Lincoln Family Story
Harry Latham Lincoln was born in New York January 21, 1830 and was one of 13 children comprising the family of Nathan and Phebe (Hayes) Lincoln. He belonged to a family among whose distant kindred was President Abraham Lincoln.
Harry and his wife Ann Fennell had seven children. When the Mississippi Valley was undergoing its initial development, the Lincoln family, with by then, four children in tow, became pioneers of Madison County in Illinois where Harry operated a flouring mill for three years. Leaving Illinois for California in 1859, they traveled to New York and boarded a ship with twelve hundred passengers. The ship crossed through the isthmus of Panama, proceeded up the west coast, and after twenty-four days, landed in Benicia in Solano County. Harry’s brother was already living in Suisun Valley and helped Harry locate and buy a quarter section claim with a small cabin, but shortly was to find the property was already owned by Nathan Coombs, who sent his foreman to remove the settlers.
Finding another property in Vacaville, he closed a deal to break and train wild horses and cultivate the land. He bought a grain header machine and was soon making a large profit. This was the first header operated in Napa Valley. After four years, and three more children, he moved the family to Capay Valley in Yolo County and purchased 200 acres of land which he then farmed for six years. Next, he moved the family to San Jose so the children could go to city schools.
They arrived in Napa Valley in 1877, settling in Calistoga. Harry’s sons George Fennel and Edward Fletcher Lincoln both farmed in Monticello for several years before Edward came to Oakville in 1898 and purchased the ranch just north of the Yountville Hills. The Lincoln family ranch at that time was 100+ acres and extended from the Napa River to Highway 29 and from Yountville road to the present Cardinale Winery. Farming included cattle, hogs, barley, hay, apples, prunes, grapes and other crops.
Edward Fletcher Lincoln, born October 2, 1858 and his wife Mary Haeckl, a native of Melbourne, Australia, had six children, Lloyd, Alva, Clement, George, Edna and Eva.
In the early 20s, in addition to farming the home ranch, two brothers, sons George Audrey and Alva Louis started Lincoln Brothers Blacksmith and Tractor in Oakville at the present-day parking lot of the Oakville Grocery. The company was purchased in the 50s by a son-in-law and later moved to Rutherford and renamed Wilcox Tractor.
Edward’s son Alva had two children, William and Alita.
William (Bill) was raised in Oakville, and he and his friends got treats through the back door from the owner of Oakville Grocery. They used to ride their bikes up Oakville Grade, which was a dirt road. They loved watching the planes land on an airstrip in Oakville. When he was 16, Bill and a friend built their own plane! He obtained his pilot license and attended Cal Poly for his formal aeronautical mechanical training. On one eventful day, he and his buddies decided to see if a chicken could fly (Bill had made the original bet), so they took off, and at about 3000 feet dropped the poor bird over the side. The chicken flew in graceful circles until landing safely in the grass, and was later returned to the coop. Bill’s daughter Dee (McFarland), says Dad laughed about that every time he told the story!
Bill was an aeronautical engineer, and a flight engineer for Pan American World Airways on Clipper Ships at Treasure Island in the late 30s. Barbara, soon to be his wife, worked for Pan Am owner Juan Trippe in scheduling and administration. Hired by Pan Am four days after graduating from college, Bill became head plane mechanic. As WWII broke out and the Navy took over Pan Am, he became an officer in the Navy and was sent to Guam and Midway Islands. He and his crew maintained the aircraft on the bases. On one occasion, during an attack, they retreated to the trenches they had dug for protection from Japanese bombers and one brave crew member ran back to the house for beer for everyone and made it back to the trench just as the attack began.
The Lincoln Ranch property was divided among the six children in 1938 and several sold their parcels immediately. William Wayne Lincoln purchased the home parcel from his uncle Edward Lloyd Lincoln in 1964. While still flying, he farmed it as permanent pasture for cattle until the early 70s when it was planted in vines during that planting boom.
Bill and Barbara had ten children, including twins and triplets: Ann, Bill, Beth, Dee, Mary, Barby (died at age 21 in an auto accident), John, Jim, David, and Lynn. Nine of the ten graduated from St. Helena High School. The eldest daughter, Ann, had graduated and was attending college when they moved to Oakville.
The children were not allowed to ride their bikes to Yountville, because Mom thought it was “too rough” a town! However, Gene, the owner of Tonascia’s would hand out cookies when Mom would stop by for a few groceries with all the kids.
After graduating from high school, all the children left the area to “see the world”, but all have since returned! Siblings occupations include vineyard management, agricultural engineering, nursing, teaching, a chef, machine operator, computer programming and entrepreneurs. There are now 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Please join them at the Museum for a Day!