Update on Lincoln’s Neighbors

This post provides new material to an issue raised by an earlier short essay on the Lincoln household in 1860.

The 1860 census noted the “Dinker” family household (near Eighth and Edwards streets) in Springfield, headed by Barbara with Phillip (15), George (13), Mary (11), and (presumably) grandpareDinkel 1860 censusnts, John (80) and Margaret (62) Merguthole (sic).  The census taker listed Barbara and her parents as natives of Wurtenberg [Germany] and her three children as Illinois natives.  This appears to be the same Philip Dinkel listed by the census taker as a 15-year-old male living nearby at the Lincoln household (Eighth and Jackson)

A death notice for a “Philip Dinkel” appeared in the Illinois State Journal, Friday. October 27, 1865.  The notice lists his mother as “Mrs. Barber Dinkel,” but the connection to the First Baptist (later Central Baptist) Church in SpringDinkel death noticefield makes it obvious that this must have been the eldest child of widow Barbara Philip Dinkel Service RecordDinkel.  Philip had apparently abandoned his plans to become a minister (just about a week before his brother George wrote President Lincoln in 1864) and had enlisted in the Union army in May 1864 for 100 days (providing his occupation as a “student”).  His muster in report listed him as 5’6″ with brown hair, gray eyes and a fair complexion. One of his descendants has posted his service record at Ancestry.com.  Philip Dinkel served in Company G of the 134th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and mustered out in Chicago on October 25, 1864.  How he contracted and then died from consumption remains unknown.  This was also apparently his second short tour of duty in the Union army.  Records indicate that Philip Dinkel also served with Company F of the 70th Illinois Infantry from July 4, 1862 until October 23, 1862.  During that period, the regiment was stationed at Camp Butler, near Springfield, and assisted with guard duty for Confederate POWs, many of whom had been sent there in spring 1862 after the Union capture of Fort Donelson in Tennessee.


George J. Dinkel signatureFor more on George J. Dinkel (or Dinkle)’s service in the 114th Illinois Infantry, see this link.  And here is also a detail of the image of his signature from his 1864 letter to Abraham Lincoln (now available from the Lincoln Papers at Library of Congress).

George J. Dinkel

George J. Dinkel

It turns out that George Dinkel survived the war and married a daughter of Sullivan Conant, one of Springfield’s early settlers.  Lydia Jane Conant and George J. Dinkel married in Sangamon County in 1868.  By the 1880s, they were living in Las Vegas, New Mexico (east of Santa Fe), where Dinkel had become a prominent local businessman.  When Sullivan Conant became ill and then died in 1886, the Las Vegas newspapers reported on his demise and his daughter’s concern (available now via Chronicling America).  She died herself later that year.  Eventually, Lydia Conant Dinkel was re-buried and now rests in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.  The couple apparently never had any children. George did later remarry, however, and relocated to Delton, Michigan (Barry Township, not too far from Kalamazoo).  Dinkel’s descendants have posted a photo of him at the family tree in Ancestry.com.


Barbara Dinkle death noticeIn 1903, the Springfield Illinois State Journal noted the death of “an old resident of Springfield,” in Delton, Michigan (Sunday, February 22, 1903). The newspaper listed her as Mrs. Barbara Dinkle, but according to Find-A-Grave records, this was Christina Barbara (Mergenthaler) Dinkel, the mother of Philip, George and Mary, an originally a native of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, now buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, not too far from the Lincoln family tomb. Here is what you will find online at Find-A-Grave from a record added in 2008 by Charles W. Brown, appended to a transcript of Barbara Dinkel’s 1903 death notice:

Aged 78 years; on cemetery records and in obituary as Barbara Dinkle.  Barbara married Valentine Dinkel August 3, 1844. Mother of Phillip Dinkel, George J Dinkel, and Mary Alice Dinkel.

A quick check of the 1900 census confirms that 75-year-old Barbara Dinkel (mother) was living in Barry County, Michigan with her 53-year-old son George (b. Dec. 1846 in Illinois), his much younger second wife Emily (born in Michigan) and their three small children.  According to the census, George J. Dinkel was then a dry goods merchant in town.  There is also a death record from 1909 for a “George S. Dinkel” from Barry, Michigan transcribed in Ancestry that lists his birth year as 1846 and his father as Philip Dinkel.  He is buried in nearby Riverside Cemetery in KalamaGeorge Dinkel obituaryzoo, Michigan as George J. Dinkel.  Find-A-Grave has even posted an image of his headstone.  The local newspaper in Springfield did provide a prominent obituary for Dinkel in July 1909.  Apparently, Dinkel had not only served in the war, but also had endured the Andersonville prison camp –sometime following his unanswered May 1864 letter from President Lincoln.  See the article pasted at the left from the Illinois State Journal, July 21, 1909.




All of these records fill out an amazing family story, but they also raise questions.  It appears possible that Valentine Dinkel immigrated to the United States from Germany as a young man in the 1840s with his parents.  This 1891 obituary of Mary (Dinkel) Schilling (b. 1830) suggests that perhaps she was Valentine’s sister; that their father’s name was Philip, and that the  family arrived in Springfield in the 1840s.  However, her obituary also puts her parents arriving in the U.S. in 1846, and yet Valentine Dinkel and Barbara Mergenthaler married in Sangamon County in 1844.  That might be just a small discrepancy rooted in slightly faulty recollections. However, it is also conceivable that there were two sets of entirely different Dinkel families in Springfield –both from Baden-Wurttenberg. The death notice for Mary Dinkel Schilling that appeared in the Illinois State Register, 6/28/1891 matches some, but not all, of the biographical records for widow Barbara Mergenthaler Dinkel and her children from her marriage with Valentine.  Almost anything is possible, including multiple Dinkels. There is, for example, a Phillip (2 l’s) Dinkel (1848-1930) buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, near Springfield, who served in the Union army (10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, Company G) and whose wife’s name was actually Mary.  Yet obviously, these are not the Philip and Mary Dinkel from Springfield whom we have been researching.

There is a marriage record transcribed in Acestry for Valentine Dinkel and Barbara “Mexican Dollar” (presumably, Mergenthaler) for August 3, 1844 in Sangamon County.  There is also a marriage record transcribed in Ancestry.com for a Barbara Dinkel and a “Gerd Gerdes Dose” in Sangamon County, January 22, 1877.  Still working on that one…

There is a Dinkel family tree posted at Ancestry.com by “rideca,” but it doesn’t yet answer all of these questions.  Noted Lincoln scholar Wayne Temple has completed an article related to the Dinkels that accomplishes a great deal, but it’s clear that definitive answers even to some of these relatively minor genealogical questions remain elusive.

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