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RG3725.AM:  Justus Casner Lincoln, 1828-1893

Diary, etc.:  1849-1886

Salem, Richardson County, Neb.:  Pioneer, merchant, traveler

Size:  0.1 cu.ft.


Born in 1828 near Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, Justus Casner Lincoln (“Cass”) was the only child of John and Nancy (Holtsclaw) Lincoln. John Lincoln (1798-1882) had come from Fayette County, Kentucky, where his father, Thomas, and uncle, Abraham (grandfather of the president), had settled in the 1790s. When Nancy died in 1836, John moved with his son to Andrew County, Missouri, where he farmed and built a gristmill and sawmill on what is now known as Lincoln Creek. In 1848 Cass was employed by some merchants to operate a store for them at Mormon Winter Quarters at Omaha (Florence), Nebraska. On May 1, 1849, he left for California with a company of some 60 men and about 23 wagons, reaching Sacramento on October 3 of that year. He sold merchandise in California from 1849-1853, but returned to Missouri to marry Eliza Jane Roberts on July 7, 1853.

Along with Thomas R. Hare and J.W. Roberts, Lincoln staked a claim in the Nebraska Territory in 1854. In January of 1855 they laid out the town of Salem in what is now Richardson County, and the following July, Lincoln brought his wife and four-week-old daughter, Alice, to Salem. There he once again went into business as a merchant, operating a general store and the post office as Salem’s first postmaster. Eventually he added a grain elevator to his commercial interests. Lincoln was elected to the Territorial Board of Agriculture in 1858, and served in the Territorial Legislature for 1862-1863. He was an early member of the Nebraska State Historical Society (1878), and co-founder of the First National Bank of Falls City.

An avid traveler, Lincoln visited New Orleans, St. Louis, the gold fields of Colorado, and rode the rails to purchase goods for his store. In 1886 he spent three months traveling through Europe, a journey he recorded for the Salem Index newspaper. Following an illness of nearly two months, J.C. Lincoln died on May 4, 1893. His wife had unexpectedly preceded him in death three days earlier.


This collection consists of items relating to the life and travels of J.C. Lincoln. The collection includes a diary containing Lincoln’s narrative of his overland journey to California in 1849, as well as a few reminiscences of the years 1850-1852. It is accompanied by a transcript. Researchers must use a preservation photocopy of the diary or the transcript, as the original is extremely fragile. Also present is a photocopy of Lincoln’s European travel account, 1886, as published in the Salem Index. The NSHS has made a transcript of the account, as the quality of the copy is uneven, and no copies of the Salem Index are still extant for that year. Two biographical clippings are also included. The photograph in folder one is a wedding photo of J.C. Lincoln and his wife, Eliza Ann Roberts Lincoln.

Note: Related materials may be found in RG3706: Spurlock-Shrimpton Family.



  1. Diary (Restricted): Includes information on miles traveled, weather, prices, and descriptions of the landscape along the trail. 103 handwritten pages: p. 86 blank, pp. 87-90 missing [blank?], pp. 91-93 blank.


  1. Diary transcript and photocopy; Biographical clippings; Photograph

  2. “Across the Waters…” Photocopy of Lincoln’s account of his European travels, as it appeared in the Salem Index in 1886.

  3. “Across the Waters…” transcript




Europe — Description and travel

Lincoln, J.C. (Justus Casner), 1828-1893

Overland journeys to the Pacific

Pioneers — Nebraska

Salem (Neb.) — History

Travelers — Europe

Voyages and travels


KFK   06-29-1995; 08-15-1996

11-18-2009   Revised TMM