Jun 132024

In the mid-1890s, New Orleans poet Mary Ashley Townsend, born in 1832, and her husband, Gideon, became, almost certainly, the first American couple to own property in the town of Chapala—and they didn’t even have to pay for it, because it was a gift from their eldest daughter, Cora.

Mary Ashley and Gideon lived in New Orleans, where she had established a reputation as a novelist and poet. She published under several pen names, including Xariffa (or Zariffa) for her serious poetry, and two “humorously masculine names”—Crab Crossbones and Michael O’Quillo—for satirical pieces. As “Poet Laureate of New Orleans,” she was commissioned to compose and recite a special poem for the opening of the New Orleans exposition in 1884.

Mary Ashley Townsend (American Women, 1897)

Mary Ashley Townsend (American Women, 1897)

Mary Ashley was widely traveled and first visited Mexico in 1875. During her extended visits in various parts of Mexico, Mary Ashley published regular columns in papers such as the New Orleans Picayune with astute and informative observations of natural history, architecture, people at work and play, fashion, society, food, etc. She was working on a book based on these columns at the time of her death. The book was only rediscovered and published many decades later, as Here and There in Mexico: The Travel Writings of Mary Ashley Townsend.

Mary Ashley’s daughter Cora Alice Townsend de Rascón (born in 1855) was the widow of wealthy hacienda owner and diplomat José Martín Rascón, the first Mexican minister to Japan, and a confidante of President Díaz. Rascón died unexpectedly in 1893 in San Francisco on his way home to Mexico. After his death, Cora inherited and administered his substantial estate, including several haciendas in San Luis Potosí.

In 1895, Cora bought the Villa Montecarlo from English eccentric Septimus Crowe and gave it to her parents as a Christmas present. A few weeks previously, Cora and her mother had both attended the 11th Congreso Internacional de Americanistas in Mexico City, as had British consul Lionel Carden, who had already started building Villa Tlalocan, his own well-appointed home in Chapala, designed by English architect George Edward King.

Cora’s parents loved Chapala and spent several months each winter there. Gideon Townsend, a financier, liked it for the sake of his health and planted dozens of coffee trees. The Townsend house—at that time the “furthest west of all the cottages”— was a prominent local landmark. According to The Mexican Herald in 1897, “On the highest peak one sees a bright red and white house with a tower which looks as if it came from the old baronial castles of the middle ages.”

Mary Ashley Townsend wrote several poems in Chapala, at least two of which are about the lake. The first, titled “On Lake Chapala” is typical of her lyrical style and offers a halcyon view of her winter home.

“On Lake Chapala”

Oh Nature! soother of the heart that bleeds
Thou, with the boundless beauty of thy skies.
And mountain shapes which improbably rise,
Dost preach thine own among a thousand creeds.

Amid conflicting ways, of words and deeds,
Bewildered man his tangled pathway plies
To clutch at truth where truth his grasp denies,
While thou, the unfailing trinity his soul unheeds!

‘Tis writ oh, Nature! on the veiled winds,
On voiceless planets that our planet nears,
In limpid brooks, in the unfathomed sea—
Writ on the pebble that the lone shore finds,
Writ on the foreheads of the flying years,
Thine was, thine is, thine man shall ever be.

+ + +

The second poem, titled simply “Lake Chapala,” is, in my opinion, far more interesting.

“Lake Chapala”

A sunken city in thy depths tis said,
Fair Lake Chapala, lieth hidden deep,
And water weeds across its casements creep,
Or bar the doors on its unburied dead.

Upon its domes and towers are never shed
The sun’s bright beams, its ancient gateways keep
Grim wardens sleeping an eternal sleep
While through its streets the marching ages tread.

But, in the night time when the moon is low,
The murmuring waves which touch thy tropic shore
The songs of Aztec maidens with them bring
And stronger voices of warriors in their woe
And lovers’ tender accents come once more
Up from the sunken city wandering.

+ + +

This poem relates directly to an idea then circling in the U.S. that an early town or city at Lake Chapala had been submerged and now lay under water. Distinguished American anthropologist Frederick Starr (1858-1933) spent the winter of 1895-1896 at Lake Chapala investigating the rumors of this submerged city, rumors based mainly on the large number of pottery fragments recovered from the lake bed whenever the water level fell. After collecting and studying 261 individual specimens of pottery, Starr concluded that they were likely to be “offerings made to the lake itself or some spirit resident there-in,” and not utilitarian household items. Starr also recognized that changes in lake level might explain why the pieces were now found at some distance from the current shoreline.

Townsend-book-coverIn “Lake Chapala,” Mary Ashley Townsend, looking across the waters of the lake from her stately residence, Villa Montecarlo, indulged her imagination and poetic talents.

Unfortunately, tragedy would soon befall her family. Her eldest daughter, Cora, married Bannister Smith Monro, a New Yorker living in Europe, in 1896, and moved to Paris. The Monros’ daughter (Cora Monro) was born the following year, and their son a year later. Tragically, on 28 March 1898, Cora died within days of giving birth to their son, who died only a few weeks later. As if this wasn’t enough ill-luck, Bannister died on 15 August 1899. Young Cora Monro, orphaned before she was three years old, inherited the massive land holdings in Mexico, and was taken in by her maternal aunt, Mrs George Lee, in Galveston, Texas. Mary Ashley’s husband, Gideon, also died in 1899, meaning that Mary Ashley had lost her eldest child, as well as a grandson, a son-in-law and her own husband within two years. The run of bad luck did not end there. Mary Ashley was severely injured in a train crash in Texas, and suffered months of ill health prior to her own death on 7 June 1901.

The Montecarlo property was eventually acquired—the conflicting versions of how this occurred are impossible to reconcile and leave several unanswered questions—by Aurelio González Hermosillo (1862–1927), a wealthy lawyer and financier who owned the Hacienda Santa Cruz del Valle near Guadalajara.

Note that American historian John Mason Hart’s account of Cora’s life in Empire and Revolution: The Americans in Mexico Since the Civil War, is error-strewn. His claim, for example, that Rascón died in 1896 and that Cora Townsend then continued to run the hacienda, very successfully, for another decade, until her own death in 1906, is clearly wrong since Rascón died in 1893 and Cora in 1898.

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Chapter 28 of If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s Historic Buildings and Their Former Occupants (translated into Spanish as Si las paredes hablaran) includes more discussion of the Townsends’ ownership of Villa Montecarlo.


  • My sincere thanks to Michael Olivas for investigating the Stanton-Townsend Papers in the Special Collections Division of the Howard-Tilton Library at Tulane University, New Orleans.


  • James Mason Hart. 2002. Empire and Revolution: The Americans in Mexico Since the Civil War. University of California Press, page 398.
  • Mary Ashley Townsend. Undated, unpublished manuscripts, Box 3, Folder 17, Stanton-Townsend Papers, Special Collections Division, Howard-Tilton Library, Tulane University, New Orleans.
  • Mary Ashley Townsend. 2001. Here and There in Mexico: The Travel Writings of Mary Ashley Townsend. (edited by Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.) University of Alabama Press.
  • The Salt Lake Herald: 16 November 1895.
  • Starr, Frederick. 1897. “The Little Pottery Objects of Lake Chapala, Mexico.” Department of Anthropology Bulletin II. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Comments, corrections and additional material are welcome, whether via comments or email.

Jun 152023

Luis Gonzaga Urbina  (1864-1934) began composing “El poema del lago” (“The Lake Poem”) (1907) on the shores of Lake Chapala, before completing it in Mexico City. The poem consists of 18 sonnets, each with its own particular direction and strength.


This is the full text of the poem, in Spanish:

El poema del lago

A Jesús E. Valenzuela


¿Qué dice tu nervioso gesto de selva oscura
árbol vetusto y seco sin una verde rama?
Con cicatriz de hachazos y quemazón de llama,
como un espectro tiendes tu sombra en la llanura.

¿Qué dice, viejo inmóvil, tu fiera crispatura?
¡Tremendo y misterioso debe ser tu drama!
Parece que te encoges, y al cielo que te inflama
quieres lanzar tu grito de inmensa desventura.

Es trágico el profundo silencio de las cosas;
lo inanimado sufre dolencias pavorosas,
ignotos infortunios que no tienen consuelo;

porque la vida es toda crueldad, y es inconsciente,
porque es la tierra a todo dolor indiferente,
y es impasible y muda la inmensidad del cielo.



¡Qué soledad augusta! ¡Qué silencio tranquilo!
El lago, quieto, monorrítmicamente canta,
y sobre el sauce, cuyas frondas me dan asilo,
un pájaro su débil cancioncita levanta.

En las perladas linfas, como una red de hilo
de cristal blanco, tiende, la luz que se abrillanta
con las ondulaciones, su claridad. Y un filo
de sol, oculto en una nube que se adelanta,

rompe, sereno y frágil, las aguas a lo lejos.
En las violetas cumbres, tapices de reflejos
desgarran, al capricho, sus ocres bordaduras,

y una remota barca, despliega, puro y leve,
en el azul del aire, su triángulo de nieve,
que brilla bajo el hondo zafir de las alturas.



Es un gran vidrio glauco, y es terso y transparente,
y copia, espejeante, la playa florecida,
con un matiz tan rico, tan claro, tan valiente,
que el agua da, a colores y a formas, nueva vida.

La sierra, al esfumino, se borra de allá enfrente,
como una nube incierta que al cielo va prendida,
y, voluptuosa y fresca, columpia la corriente
un haz de lirios muertos bajo la luz dormida.

El lago soñoliento no canta sotto voce;
no tiembla. Vive en una tranquilidad que asombra.
Presto vendrá el crepúsculo con su oriental derroche;

el lago, limpio y terso, como una verde alfombra,
espera a que lo agiten las alas de la noche,
o, en tempestad, lo encrespen las manos de la sombra.



A una amiga lejana

Es diáfano el crepúsculo. Parece
de joyante cristal. Abre en el cielo
su ágata luminosa, y es un velo
en que el azul del lago desfallece.

En ámbares cloróticos decrece
la luz del sol, y ya en el terciopelo
de la penumbra, como flor de hielo,
una pálida estrella se estremece.

Mientras las aves lentamente giran,
la sombra avanza que los oros merma,
y entre la cual las púrpuras expiran.

Yo dejo que mi espíritu se aduerma,
y me pongo a soñar en que me miran
tos ojos tristes de esmeralda enferma.



El viento arruga y mueve pesadamente el lago
que se levanta en olas de oscura refulgencia.
El horizonte extiende su azul brumoso y vago,
lo mismo que las aguas su gris opalescencia.

Hay una nube inmóvil, con el perfil de un mago
medieval, en la cumbre de la montaña. Herencia
de la noche lluviosa, cual iracundo amago,
la nube mancha un cielo de suave transparencia.

Una mañana fría de opaco claroscuro.
El sol que las montañas pálidamente dora,
deja en el aire un tinte blanco, glacial y duro;

y un árbol viejo, en medio de la calma infinita,
al borde de la margen, sobre el agua sonora,
parece un triste anciano que en su dolor medita.



El agua está cual nunca de linda y de coqueta;
no hay rayo que no juegue, no hay ola que no salte;
de lejos, tiene rubios perfiles su silueta,
y azul es en la playa, con limpidez de esmalte.

Vestida está de fiesta: no hay joya que le falte;
las barcas, a su puesto, le dejan una inquieta
cinta de plata virgen, para que así resalte
la luz en el radioso brocado de violeta.

Cerca, en el promontorio de musgos y basaltos,
un gran plumón de nubes se tiende y busca asilo;
al fondo, van las cumbre, en los celajes altos,

rompiendo el horizonte con su cortante filo,
y en el confín que esplende, se funden los cobaltos
del cielo y las montañas, en un zafir tranquilo.



Chasquea el agua y salta el cristal hecho astillas,
y él se hunde; y sólo flotan, del potro encabritado
la escultural cabeza de crines amarillas
y el torso del jinete, moreno y musculado.

Remuévense las ondas mordiendo las orillas,
con estremecimiento convulso y agitado,
y el animal y el hombre comienzan un airado
combate, en actitudes heroicas y sencillas.

Una risueña ninfa de carne roja y dura,
cabello lacio y rostro primitivo, se baña;
las aguas, como un cíngulo, le ciñen la cintura;

y ella ve sin pudores… y le palpita el seno
con el afán de darse, voluptuosa y huraña,
a las rudas caricias del centauro moreno.



Uncido a la carreta, va el buey grave y austero;
y su ojo reproduce no el campo verde, como
lo vio Carducci, sino la inmensidad de plomo
del lago que finge una gran lámina de acero.

La arena de la playa le sirve de sendero,
y el sol, que está en lo alto del infinito domo,
unta sus resplandores en el sedeño lomo
y clava su aureola sobre el testuz severo.

El animal camina con majestad estoica,
y ante la fuerza plástica de su figura heroica,
despiértase un recuerdo clásicamente ambiguo;

que, a las evocaciones, es el buey melancólico,
en la hoja de papirus hexámetro bucólico,
y en el frontón del templo bajorrelieve antiguo.



A una onda

Arrulla con tus líricas canciones,
onda terca que vienes de tan lejos
enjoyada de luces y reflejos,
arrulla mis postreras ilusiones.

La juventud se va; se van sus dones;
del placer quedan los amargos dejos,
de la pasión los desencantos viejos,
y del dolor las tristes emociones.

Queda la vida, que el instinto afianza,
queda el recuerdo del amor perdido,
y queda el ideal que no se alcanza.

Tú, que cantando sueños has venido,
onda lírica, dame la esperanza,
y si no puede ser… dame el olvido.



El saúz es audaz; dejó la orilla
y avanzó en la corriente que chispea
y en derredor del tronco cabrillea
bajo la luz del sol que tiembla y brilla.

Ligeramente impura y amarilla,
en el borde arenoso el agua ondea,
y en la remota extremidad clarea
con blancura de nieve sin mancilla.

El árbol, que se empapa en luces blondas,
deja caer, sensual y perezoso,
la móvil cabellera de sus frondas,

y en el augusto y plácido reposo,
sobre el trémulo raso de las ondas
vuelca su verde limpio y luminoso.



Se enciende el oleaje, como a la luz se enciende
la leche de los ópalos, en fuegos repentinos;
y la onda turbia lumbres metálicas desprende
si en su volar la rozan los pájaros marinos.

El sol, en desmayadas claridades desciende,
y empapa el horizonte de tonos ambarinos,
rompe con lanzas de oro los cúmulos y prende
rubíes, de las velas en los flotantes linos.

Es la hora letárgica de la melancolía;
todo está mudo y triste. Ya va a apagarse el día;
dilúyese en la sombra cuando en la tierra alumbra.

Sólo en la humilde iglesia, refugio de oraciones,
lucen, como dos puntos rojizos y temblones,
las llamas de dos cirios que pican la penumbra.



Blanco de ensueño; blanco de los polares días,
blanco que fosforece, que las linfas estaña;
blanco en que se deshace la sobra en una extraña
niebla azul y profunda que borra lejanías.

La ondulación es lenta, rayada con estrías
de luz — maravillosa e inmensa telaraña,
cuyo tejido frágil se rompe cuando baña
al ramo, la corriente de mudas ondas frías.

Entonces ¡qué prodigio! ya el remo se mueve
sobre el lago salpica gotas de plata y nieve,
que marcan de los botes los caprichosos giros,

hasta que al fin se pierden con su movible estela
en la remota bruma —la azul y blanca tela
que es polvo de diamantes en humo de zafiros.



Y fueron en la tarde las claras agonías:
el sol, un gran escudo de bronce repujado,
hundiéndose en los frisos del colosal nublado,
dio formas y relieves a raras fantasías.

Mas de improviso, el orto lanzó de sus umbrías
fuertes y cenicientas masas, un haz dorado;
y el cielo, en un instante vivo y diafanizado,
se abrió en un prodigioso florón de pedrerías.

Los lilas del ocaso se tornan oro mate;
pero aún conserva el agua su policroma veste:
sutiles gasas cremas en brocatel granate.

Hay una gran ternura recóndita y agreste;
y el lago, estremecido como una entraña, late
bajo el azul caricia del esplendor celeste.



Vidas inútiles

Salpicadas de aljófares las sensuales corolas,
se abren, urnas de seda, bajo el claro del día;
los lirios y nenúfares, son lotos y amapolas
que a flor de agua, en la margen, van sobre la onda fría.

Es un jardín flotante… ¡Ah! yo me inclinaría,
yo hundiera mis dos manos en las crujientes olas,
para cortar un cáliz… Pero es que vivo a solas,
no hay alma que me espere ni a quien le nombre mía.

Loto que yo arrancara, porque lleno de unciones
durmiera entre las hojas de un libro de oraciones,
púdrete a flor de agua… ¡Qué igual es nuestra suerte!

Yo floto en mi tristeza, que es honda y que no brilla,
en tanto que los vientos me arrancan de la orilla
con rumbo a las oscuras riberas de la muerte.



Rayos de sol en plenitud esmaltan
el gris del lago, en claridades blondas,
y son insectos de cristal que saltan
sobre la turbia seda de las ondas.

En las vecinas márgenes exaltan
el verdor enfermizo de las frondas,
y de la sierra en el confín, cobaltan
las lejanías. Junto a las redondas

redes que están al sol, desnudo juegan
y a sus retozos cándidos se entregan,
dos niños en la arena de la orilla,

y la luz, de doradas palideces,
en aquellas oscuras desnudeces,
con maternales complacencias, brilla.



El rosicler ardiente de la mañana, pinta
el lago de una pálida sangre de rosas. Quietas
está las aguas, donde como una frágil cinta
la luz ondula y abre sus caprichosas grietas

de plata. Y, a lo lejos, en carmesí se entinta
el cielo en que las cumbres recortan sus siluetas;
las púrpuras se funden en vahos violetas
y queda al fin del rojo, la claridad extinta.

Triunfa el azul en gloria; triunfa el azul tramado
de argentos y de oros, y como imperial brocado;
es el azul profundo que baña de luz pura

el promontorio rígido y el lago que se enarca;
y sólo, en lo distante, la vela de una barca
pone su dulce nota de virginal blancura.



En el silencio triste de la noche que empieza,
se oye una voz que viene de lejos, de una mancha
distinta en las penumbras solemnes de una lancha
que sobre el horizonte su mástil endereza.

Bronca es la voz, de un timbre de salvaje fiereza;
mas al cruzar del lago por la sonora plancha,
yo no sé en qué misterios musicales, ensancha
la canción, su doliente y adorable tristeza.

Solloza humanos duelos la popular y ruda
canción y los desgrana sobre la noche muda…
son del dolor perenne, los viejos estribillos.

Un alma primitiva cantando está un tormento;
y es una voz que lleva por acompañamiento
el diálogo estridente de los insomnes grillos.



A ti, viejo poeta, con quien crucé yo un día,
gozoso e impaciente, los lagos del ensueño;
tú eras robusto y grande, yo débil y pequeño,
mas tu barca de oro dio asilo a mi alegría.

Tu juventud ilusa fue hermana de la mía;
tu empeño, noble y alto, fue amigo de mi empeño;
hoy que es fronda de otoño nuestro brote abrileño,
tu pena es camarada de mi melancolía.

A ti va mi poema, vivido frente a frente
del agua y de los cielos, en una hora clemente
pasada en el regazo de la naturaleza.

Va a despertar, si puede, dormidas añoranzas;
y reencender, si sabe, rescoldos de esperanzas,
y a divertir con sueños tu plácida tristeza.


Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcome. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

May 062021

Californian poet and novelist Jan Richman’s poem “Ajijic” was first published in 1994, and included in her first poetry collection, Because the Brain Can Be Talked Into Anything, which won the 1994 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Jan Richman- book cover

Born in La Jolla, Richman graduated from Torrey Pines High School before studying English and Theatre at University of California, Irvine. She then completed a BA degree in Creative Writing and English at San Francisco State University and a Masters in Creative Writing at New York University.

Richman taught at the City College of San Francisco, and lost a job at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco (following a controversy over a gratuitously violent story written by a student), before working as a freelance proof reader and copy editor. She has also been an associate editor and columnist for SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle).

Poems by the multi-award winning Richman have appeared in numerous magazines including The Nation, Ploughshares, Comet, Kenyon Review, The Bloomsbury Review and Luna.

Richman is also the author of the novel Thrill-Bent (2012) in which she gives her own name to the narrator, a writer for BadMouth Magazine, “NYC’s Premier Cultural Crap Detector,” who is given an assignment to report on roller coasters around the country set for demolition. Her final stop is in California.

Precisely when or why Jan Richman visited Ajijic is currently unknown. Her poem “Ajijic” first appeared in the Winter 1993-94 issue of the literary journal Ploughshares. (The journal is archived online and the poem can be read in its entirety via the link in “Sources”)

Here are a few sample lines from “Ajijic” –

I came down to the water
to escape the feuding, infallible generations.
In my grandfather’s eye is my father’s eye, and so on.

* * *

These clean girls will circle the plaza clockwise,
entwined in pairs, throbbing to be plucked from the wheel.
I’ll dance in the bar with Mexican boys
who’ll squeeze my ass and tell my white throat, You,
alone, are beautiful.


  • Jan Richman. 1994. “Ajijic.” Ploughshares, Vol. 19, No. 4, Borderlands (Winter, 1993/1994), 16.
  • Jan Richman. 1995. Because the Brain Can Be Talked into Anything: poems. Louisiana State University Press.
  • Jan Richman. 2012. Thrill-Bent. Tupelo Press.

Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcome. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

Jul 062017

Wow! Lake Chapala connected to Abraham Lincoln? Well, yes, albeit in a somewhat tenuous, roundabout way that I will now attempt to explain.

The key character in this story is Rixford Joseph Lincoln, who was born into a prominent New Orleans family on 22 August 1872. His father, Lemuel L. Lincoln, had been a Major in the confederate forces before becoming the commercial and financial editor of the city’s leading daily, the Times-Democrat. Rixford’s mother died when he was young and he was raised by an aunt, Suzette Helluin. The family was not directly related by blood to Abraham Lincoln but, as we shall see, it is possible to link Rixford Lincoln to the famous U.S. president and one part of the link also involves Lake Chapala.

Frontispiece, Rixford Lincoln's Poems and Short Stories (1900)

Frontispiece, Rixford Lincoln’s Poems and Short Stories (1900)

Rixford gained both a B.A. and M.A. from the Jesuit college in New Orleans and worked as an assistant to his father before completing his studies in law at Tulane University, from which he graduated in 1899.

He started to write poetry at an early age and his family’s newspaper connections undoubtedly helped bring his work to a significant audience. Indeed, Rixford was considered the poet laureate of the Louisiana Historical Society and wrote (and read) poems to commemorate important events, such as the opening of the New Orleans Museum of Art in 1911 (“Long will this art museum stand in pride / While throngs will daily pour into its door / The Muses to live and speak out from the paint / And spread her mystic light from dome to floor”) and at the dedication of the oak grove in the Audubon Park in New Orleans in 1919, a memorial to 62 local men who gave their lives during the first world war.

Rixford Lincoln was the author of several books including Poems and short stories (1900); Prose Poems (ca 1906); Historical New Orleans (in verse) (ca 1911); War Poems, Indian Legends, and a Wreath of Childhood Verses (1916); Verses to a Child (1922) as well as numerous newspaper articles and several other undated pamphlets of poetry.

Lincoln was obviously familiar with Lake Chapala (though how and when is unknown) since among his many poems is this one about the lake, published in 1908:


O “Lagua Incognitus,” Thon gem so fair,
Encircled in the mountains’ horseshoe green,
Whose lovely waters bask ‘neath tropic sun,
Or lash the beach with breakers’ battling spleen.

Sweet Mexic lake, beloved Indian spot,
Where forests spread upon the mountain side,
Whose emerald peaks, of softest hue divine,
Reflect themselves in thee, with silent pride.

How fair thy waters roll upon the shore,
With music tender, breathing from the deep;
Where sail the vessels, tossing on thy breast,
And balmy breezes woo the spirit sleep.

Enchanted highland lake, beloved so well,
How grand when cloud and mountain flood with light,
With colors mingling tints of sky and sea,
When sol is sinking on the heart of night.

Bewildering sight, which dazzles mem’ry yet,
O’erreaching haciendas, fields and plain;
Alluring air of Mexico’s soft sea,
Let me of all they glories dream again.

– – –

In 1928, after working as an attorney and newspaper man in New Orleans for some thirty years, Rixford Lincoln accepted a position teaching English and French at the boarding school attached to Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City, Colorado.

Though the motives behind his later movements are unclear, by 1935 Rixford Lincoln was living in St Bernard, Cullman, Alabama, and, by the time of the U.S. Census in 1940, in Pasco, Florida. He died in Illinois on 22 October 1962 at the age of 90.

And the connection to Abraham Lincoln? Well, there are two distinct links. The first is that Rixford Lincoln also wrote a poem entitled “Abraham Lincoln”, published in the Cullman Democrat (Alabama) in 1936. That poem (quoted in Schwartz, 2011) ends with the plea made by so many in the run-up to the second world war:

Would that you could rule us today
When wracked the world in woe
Oh, guide us from afar, we pray
Wisdom on us bestow.

And the second connection? Rixford Lincoln, the poet and son of Major Lemuel L. Lincoln, was an usher at the colorful wedding in New Orleans of Laure Jaubert and John Virgil Dugan, who had previously worked for the son of Abraham Lincoln….


  • Daily Picayune, 23 May 1899, 11
  • Ned Hémard. 2015. “New Orleans Nostalgia: Lincoln Law and Loving Laure”, in journal of the New Orleans Bar Association.
  • Rixford J. Lincoln. 1900. Poems and short stories. (New Orleans: Dalton Williams)
  • Rixford J. Lincoln. 1908. “Lake Chapala” (poem), The Daily Picayune (New Orleans), 15 March 1908, 36.
  • Rixford J. Lincoln. 1936. “Abraham Lincoln” (poem), Cullman Democrat, 13 February 1936, 21.
  • The Register. 1928. “Holy Cross Abbey Notes” in The Register, the Rapid Fire Catholic Newspaper (Denver, Colorado), 2 September 1928, 3.
  • Barry Schwartz. 2011. “Abraham Lincoln in the Mind of the South: Assassination to Reconciliation”, pp 169-203 of The Living Lincoln (edited by Thomas A. Horrocks, Harold Holzer, Frank J. Williams), Southern Illinois University Press.

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