Jesse Head



“We have many reasons for honoring Abraham Lincoln . . . He typifies and exemplified America; his life is a kind of epitome of our history, beginning as it does in the back woods, and reaching the crest of our civilization.  When we honor Lincoln we honor primitive Kentucky, and primitive America.”— From an address by the Reverend William E. Barton at the monument dedication at the grave of the Reverend Jesse Head, Thursday, November 2, 1922


The Reverend Jesse Head was born in 1768 in Frederick County, Maryland, migrating to Kentucky in the mid-1790s.  He lived in and around Springfield, Kentucky, during the late 1790s and early 1800s, where he was elected president of the city’s municipal Board of Trustees.  In addition to these duties, he fulfilled his ecclesiastical duties and his work as a carpenter. 


However, the Reverend Head is remembered for presiding over a marriage ceremony that took place on the Beech Fork in Washington County on June 12, 1806, in the house of Richard Berry.  This was the marriage of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, the parents of President Abraham Lincoln.


A poem was prepared and read by Henry Cleveland Wood at the monument dedication at the grave of the Reverend Jesse Head on November 2, 1922, which in part stated:


That from this lowly union there would spring

A modern Moses to a captive race;

A just man, fashioned in heroic mould—

Of Hero’s stuff—a fearless President—

Emancipator—yet a Martyr, too—

Abraham Lincoln—Man of Destiny.


Postcard showing drawing of the Reverend Jesse Head

Kentucky Historical Society Collections