When Dorothy Lamon Teillard died in 1953, at age 95, the Commercial-News noted that the last local living link to Abraham Lincoln was broken.
Teillard was the last surviving child of Ward Hill Lamon — Lincoln’s law partner in Danville, his bodyguard in Washington and his true friend.
I recently visited her grave, and the grave of her father, in Garrardstown, W. Va.
The Feb. 12, 1953, article about Teillard’s Danville ties was written by Joseph H. Barnhart, who at that time was director of the Illinois State Historical Society. His home was the former Dr. William Fithian house, later the Vermilion County Museum.
Ward Hill Lamon grew up near Garrardstown. He moved to Danville in 1847, studied law and formed a local partnership with Lincoln. He and his wife, Angelina, had three girls, but only Dorothy — the youngest — lived past infancy.
Angelina died when Dorothy was five months old. Her father, who was then living in Bloomington, brought her to Danville to be reared by his sister, Annie, and her husband, William Morgan.
In 1861, Lamon and his second wife moved to Washington; Dorothy stayed in Danville.
“The vivacious young girl grew up in Danville, went to school, studied music and took a prominent part in the local activities of the day,” Barnhart wrote. “She is remembered by some of our older citizens as ‘Dolly’ Lamon.”
One of her favorite memories came at age 6, when she visited her father in Washington. He took her for a ride with President Lincoln in a carriage upholstered in red velvet.
At age 25, Dorothy Lamon was offered a job in Washington by Gen. John Charles Black, of Danville, who was then federal commissioner of pensions. She moved there, made 11 trips to Europe, and headed the U.S. exhibit at the 1900 Paris Exposition.
Before leaving for France, she took French lessons from a professor named Xavier Teillard. Seventeen years later, they married. She spent the next 21 years in France, but when her husband died, she returned to Washington.
Ward Hill Lamon died in 1893. One of Mrs. Teillard’s most prized possessions was his 18-carat gold pocket watch, purchased from Tiffany’s In New York. The inscription inside reads: “Presented by Abraham Lincoln to Ward H. Lamon on his 35th birthday, Jan. 6, 1863.”
It cost $460.
For years, the watch was kept in a lock box at the Second National Bank of Danville. On April 15, 1945 — the 80th anniversary of Lincoln’s death — Mrs. Teillard presented it to Lincoln Memorial University of Harrogate, Tenn. It remains there to this day, one of the highlights of its Lincoln collection.
Ward Hill Lamon once was offered $10,000 for the timepiece. That was a fortune then, but he turned it down.
As former Supreme Court Justice David Davis recalled, “Mr. Lincoln was greatly attached to our friend, Col. Ward H. Lamon. I doubt whether he had a warmer attachment to anybody, and I know it was reciprocated.”
Danville native Kevin Cullen is a former Commercial-News reporter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org