Title Problems Left Abe Lincoln Homeless

We all know about Abraham Lincoln’s humble beginnings, but there’s an interesting twist that they don’t really cover in the history books.

The Lincolns lost their home when Abe was just a toddler—and it was all due to problems with the title. In fact, it happened more than once, which led the Lincolns to move out of Kentucky and into Indiana.Title Problems Left Abe Lincoln Homeless - Smart Title Tennessee

What Happened with the Lincolns’ First Home?

Tom Lincoln paid $200 for history’s most famous log cabin and 300 acres of mediocre farmland. A year later, his son Abraham was born. Tom worked the land to provide for his young family.

They didn’t know it, but there was a defect in the title to the Lincolns’ homestead. Before Abe’s fourth birthday, the Lincolns had to pack up and leave that little cabin. They didn’t have the right paperwork to prove ownership, and someone else had a better claim to the property. Tom moved his family eight miles away to Knob Creek, Kentucky.

Another Questionable Title Sent the Lincolns Packing… Again

Little more than three years later, another claimant to the Knob Creek land sued Tom Lincoln as a trespasser, and Abe’s father had to go to court to prove his ownership of the farm. Lincoln won the suit, but was wary of possible future claims against his family’s home.

Anxiety over land titles in the area forced the Lincolns to hitch a wagon for Indiana. For the first time, Tom was able to get the right kind of papers and settle his family into their third home.

Title Insurance in the 1820s

Difficulty and losses like those of the Lincolns and other American pioneers gave rise to today’s title insurance industry. Title insurance didn’t exist back then, when Tom Lincoln and his family were uprooted from two separate homes for the same issues.

The hidden pitfalls of real estate ownership were beyond his control.

If the Lincolns had title insurance, their home purchases would have been protected from hazards like faulty surveys, hidden liens, outright forgeries and other title defects. Of course, the first land title insurance company would not be formed for another 70 years.  The Lincolns were on their own and out of luck.

You never have to be in that situation, though. Title insurance protects you, the homebuyer, from suffering the same fate as the Lincolns did.

Just call us at 615-393-6222 or fill out the form below. We’ll help make sure your home’s title is free and clear.



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By |2016-12-27T18:10:16+00:00February 17th, 2015|Categories: Real Estate Tips, Title & Escrow FAQ|3 Comments

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  1. […] you have a backup plan in place that prevents others from making claims to your property. (Look at what happened to Abraham Lincoln’s family because of faulty […]

  2. […] could be used to defend against lawsuits targeting the title. (More than a century-and-a-half ago, title problems left Abraham Lincoln homeless, and problems with the existing system were […]

  3. […] fail to protect themselves by getting title insurance. (This has been an issue for decades; even Abraham Lincoln’s family lost their home because of title […]

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