Cool things you can see at the Harlan-Lincoln House in Mount Pleasant. 

If you’re a history buff, especially for the American Civil War or Abraham Lincoln, then you need to add the Harlan-Lincoln House in Mount Pleasant, Iowa to your road trip bucket list.   It’s a great story of how an Iowa family became closely tied to the Lincoln family.  The house now serves as a museum with artifacts from both the Harlan and Lincoln families. 

Address: 101 West Broad, Mount Pleasant


For a tour: contact Lynn Ellsworth at 319-931-3984

What are some of the items on display at the Harlan-Lincoln House?

Fragment of Lincoln’s jacket 

After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in Washington DC, part of the collar of Lincoln’s jacket was given to his son Robert Lincoln.  Eventually, this was left to Robert’s wife, Mary Harlan Lincon, who then left it with the Harlan-Lincoln House when she donated it to the Iowa Wesleyan College in 1907.    The rest of Lincoln’s jacket is on display at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. 

Part of the collar from Abraham Lincoln’s jacket that he was wearing on the dreadful night at Ford Theatre in Washington D.C.

Mary Todd Lincoln’s mourning veil

One of Mary Todd Lincoln’s mourning veils is also on display.  It is said that Mary Todd Lincoln dressed in mourning until the day she died in 

Mary Todd Lincoln’s mourning veil.

 A Letter from Abraham Lincoln

An authenticated letter from Abraham Lincoln. 

Authenticated letter from Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln II Signatures

What?  There was an Abraham Lincoln the 2nd?  Yes,  Abraham Lincoln II was the son of Robert Lincoln and Mary Harlan.  Although his legal name was Abraham Lincoln, he was commonly known as Jack and he spent many summers in Mount Pleasant.  Jack had a great interest, or should we say obsession with making sure that his signature looked exactly like his grandfather’s!  

Abraham Lincoln’s grandson, Abraham Lincoln II, spent many summers at this house in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Notice how the young Abraham spent time perfecting his signature so that it looked like his grandfather’s.

Who lived in the Harlan-Lincoln House in Mount Pleasant?

The original owner was US Senator James Harlan and his family.  He served as a professor and early president of the college.  After he died in 1899, the house was given to his oldest daughter Mary Harlan Lincoln, who was married to Robert Lincoln.  In 1907, Mary Harlan Lincoln donated the home to the Iowa Wesleyan College.

The dining room of the Harlan-Lincoln House.

Did Abraham Lincoln ever visit the house in Mount Pleasant?

No, Abraham Lincoln never visited Mount Pleasant.   However, Lincoln did visit the state of Iowa on four occasions before he was elected president in 1861. 

How did the Harlan and Lincoln families become connected?

James Harlan served as one of Iowa’s senators during the Civil War and became aligned with Abraham Lincoln, as both were critical of slavery.  In 1864, Abraham Lincoln’s oldest son,  Robert, took a romantic interest in James Harlan’s oldest daughter, Mary.   Mary Todd Lincoln also took notice and began to play the matchmaker role.  Even Abraham Lincoln may have also played a role, as he invited James Harlan to accompany his wife Mary Todd Lincoln to his second inauguration,  which then set up Robert Lincoln to accompany Mary Harlan to the ceremony.   It was three years later when Robert and Mary were married.  They had three children,  Mary, Abraham II or Jack, and Jessie, who commonly spent summers at the home in Mount Pleasant.  

The Council of War, a sculpture by John Rodgers of Abraham Lincoln, General Grant, and Edwin Stanton.
The second floor of the home has a detailed history of each of the family members in the Harlan and Lincoln families.
The Harlan-Lincoln Home is full of artifacts from both the Harlan and Lincoln families.

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