Permelia Ann <I>Payne</I> Malcom

Permelia Ann Payne Malcom

Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois, USA
Death 14 Dec 1935 (aged 90)
Oto, Woodbury County, Iowa, USA
Burial Woodbury County, Iowa, USA
Memorial ID 31595520 View Source
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Permelia was born into a locally prominent family with military connections. Her mother died before she was about two years old. After her mother died, her father left for a few years to fight in the Mexican War, and Permelia lived with other family members. In her later years, she claimed that she met Abraham Lincoln three times in the span of less than a year when she was about 15 years old.

When she was 18, she thought she married Tom Doyle. In fact, she married Frank Reed, who had assumed the alias Tom Doyle. She bore two children by Tom: Addison Ithamore DOYLE and Francis Marion DOYLE.

After Tom and Permelia parted, she married Joseph Malcom. She had five children by Joseph: Clara Delilah MALCOM, George William MALCOM, Harriet May MALCOM, Charles Alonzo MALCOM, and Lenore Laurina MALCOM.

For the last 21 years of Permelia's life, she lived as a widow.

From the Sioux City Journal, 12-Feb-1928:
"Local Lady Knew Abraham Lincoln"
- by George O. Leach

While Lincoln was campaigning for his first term as president, Mrs. Malcom accompanied her father, John Payne, Jr., to Evansville, Ind., to attend a banquet given in honor of Mr. Lincoln, at which he was to speak. A novel method of selecting partners for the banquet table was employed. Each lady was given a ticket with a number on it, and each gentleman received a numbered ticket, and the numbers were matched. Mrs. Malcom and Mr. Lincoln held tickets with corresponding numbers. Mrs. Malcom states that, although she does not remember anything definite Mr. Lincoln said at the banquet, he was very human and enjoyable as a partner.

"When I first saw Mr. Lincoln there at the banquet that night," she said, "I thought he was the homeliest man I ever saw. His face was so rough and lined; he had such a big nose, and he didn't have his whiskers then, either. But, after I drew him for a supper partner, and we talked a while, he didn't seem homely at all. He surely had wonderful eyes. He did not talk very loud in conversation, but when he was really tickled about anything he laughed right out loud, like he meant it."

The next time she met him was a few weeks after he had been elected president for the first time. He was either going to Washington or returning from Washington. Mrs. Malcom does not remember which nor does she remember the exact date, but it was arranged that Mr. Lincoln was to stop off at Danville. The citizens of Danville gave him an ovation. A procession was formed of 500 couples of Lincoln supporters, and Mrs. Malcolm was chosen to lead it. She was mounted on a coal black horse and rode the conventional side saddle of that day. She led another black horse and, on a litter between the two horses was erected a huge banner bearing the name of Abraham Lincoln. The procession was formed at the edge of town, ladies and gentlemen riding horseback, in couples. The gentlemen were dressed in blue suits and the ladies, including Mrs. Malcom, wore riding skirts, white shirtwaists and blue caps. When they came to the pavilion erected in the square with Mrs. Malcom leading, Mr. Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, who was also to speak there that day, ran down to help her off her horse. Mr. Lincoln got there first, and after assisting her to alight, he claimed her as a partner for the first dance which was to be held immediately following the speaking.

Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas each spoke thirty minutes. Mrs. Malcom says the President made some very pointed remarks concerning the slavery situation in his speech. Mr. Douglas, in his speech, took his defeat for the presidency with very good grace and made a fine talk.

The dancing commenced at three o'clock in the afternoon, starting with a schottische, which Mrs. Malcom danced with Mr. Lincoln. She says that, although he was ungainly and rather awkward, she enjoyed dancing with him better than she did with the more polished Mr. Douglas, who was short, and she is quite tall. Even now, Mrs. Malcom is better than five feet, eight inches tall, and is not at all stooped. Lincoln and Douglas both danced almost every set, dancing round dances such as schottisches, polkas, waltzes, the Virginia Reel, also quadrilles, or square dances as they were called. When the ball closed at four o'clock in the morning, Mr. Lincoln, in the presence of the assembly, placed a wreath of white roses he had made on Mrs. Malcom's head in honor of her leading the procession and carrying his banner. Mrs. Malcom wore the wreath on her 7 mile ride home that morning, and kept it for many years until it was destroyed from so much handling.

Two days later she accompanied her father to Springfield, Ill., where she again met Abraham Lincoln and visited with him at the capitol building. Lincoln said, "Here's the little lady who lead the procession for me the other day down at Danville." He insisted that she should sit down and visit a while. He asked her if she was tired after the dance. She said she was, and he assured her "that he was about tuckered out himself." During the conversation the subject of religion came up, and Mr. Lincoln said that he had no religious affiliations, but that if he ever joined a church it would be Christ's church. When they parted, Mr. Lincoln shook hands with her and told her he hoped she would live to be a hundred years old. Mrs. Malcom smiles as she observed that she was getting well along toward that age now. This was the last time she saw him.

Mrs. Malcom also tells of a very tragic experience in her family which shows how bitter people became over politics during the Civil War. [In August 1863] her father was shot. It seems that her half-sister, a little girl six years old, pinned what was known as a "Butternut" pin, the emblem of the Democratic pro-slavery party, on the lapel of her father's vest. Mr. Payne did not notice the button, and when he went into town, it remained where the little girl had pinned it. He entered a store, and while there, a man who was an ardent anti-slavery advocate, came in and noticing the pro-slavery emblem, ordered it removed. Mr. Payne did not intend to be bluffed and refused. Whereupon the man drew a heavy calibered revolver and shot him in the abdomen, the bullet coming out through his side. Her father's brother, Milton Payne, sheriff of the county at that time, happened to be in the store. He started for the man and was shot in the hand. Another bystander, a friend of her father's, shot and killed the man. Mr. Payne lived only a few days, dying of blood poisoning as a result of the wound. Politics were taken very seriously in those days.

Shortly after the Civil War, Mrs. Malcom married Thomas Doyle, who had been a northern soldier. They came west and took a homestead near Wood River, Nebr. Two children were born to them there. Shortly after the birth of the second child, Mr. Doyle died, and for several years after his death, Mrs. Malcolm supported her two children by her own efforts.

Then she married Mr. Malcom and moved to a farm near Otoe, Iowa, where she lived for many years.

NOTE: It is not true that Permelia's first husband died "shortly after the birth of the second child." Yes, Permelia told people that her husband had died after the birth of their second child. However, that was not the truth, and there is evidence to show that Permelia knew that her first husband had not died. Her first husband went on to marry another three times. He had four children by his second marriage, and he died in 1916. His son from his 2nd wife married Permelia's niece.

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