CapeCodHistory home page
Joseph C. Lincoln bibliography

New York Times. Mar 11, 1944. pg.13


Writer of Many Novels About Sea Captains and Cape Cod Stricken in Florida at 74


His Heroes Were New England Characters He Had Known From His Own Boyhood

Special to The New York Times.

WINTER PARK, Fla., March 10 —Joseph C. Lincoln, author of Cape Cod stories, died here today of a heart ailment in his apartment at the Virginia Inn. His age was 74.

He leaves a widow, a son, Maj. Joseph Freeman Lincoln of Philadelphia and Washington, now overseas with the Intelligence Department; and two grandchildren.

Wrote With Stubby Pencil

" For more than forty years Joseph Crosby Lincoln had turned out books, on an average of more than one a year, dealing with Cape Cod folks, their ways, their thoughts, their surroundings and above all the tales they told. His prolific pen (in his case really a stubby pencil) was devoted exclusively to Cape Cod, but his more than two score of novels, short stories, sketches and verse commanded wide popular renown, an uncommon occurrence for substantial literary works.

Mr. Lincoln wrote of another, a more leisurely but none the less exciting age, an age of sailing ships, of bearded New England sea captains setting out to trade in far-off places and of the picturesque little towns on the rugged coast where they made their homes.

It was not his destiny to go out in these ships, only to write about them, the men who manned them and their womenfolk. For this his heritage amply qualified him. He was born on the Cape in the quaint little town of Brewster on Feb. 13, 1870, not many miles from the spot where the Pilgrims had landed from the Mayflower 250 years before. He grew up in the midst of the sea atmosphere and among the sea cap'ns who had made the Cape famous and who figure so delightfully in almost every story that he wrote.

Male Relatives All Sea Captains

His father (he was the son of Joseph and Emily Crosby Lincoln) was a captain and so were his grandfather and all his uncles. In fact the village was populated almost exclusively by sea cap'ns and their families.

As a boy he roamed the Cape, fishing, riding in the old stagecoach from Harwich to Chatham, and learning much of the lives and thoughts and humble aspirations of lightkeepers, fishermen, life savers and the cracker-barrel oracles who abounded in every village store.

Young Lincoln, everyone assumed, would go to sea, but his father had died of a fever in Charleston, S. C, when the boy was a year old, and relatives shipped the youth off to Boston. There he was placed in a banking house, but figures and accounts soon proved distasteful to his probing and fanciful mind. He began to draw and illustrated his sketches with bits of verse and jokes. He found that these sold better than his pictures and he abandoned his drawings to tell in swinging meter of the Cape and its folk. Turning to the short story, he sold his first to The Saturday Evening Post, and succeeding ones appeared in many other magazines while his verse found an audience in Harper's Weekly, Puck and other journals.

Edited bicycling Bulletin

About this time bicycling came into its hey-day and for three years Mr. Lincoln acted as associate editor of the Bulletin of the League of American Wheelmen. When this "fad" waned, he devoted himself wholly to the literary field.

His first book was "Cape Cod Ballads," a collection of his verses published in 1902. His first novel was "Cap'n Eri," a story of three old sea captains who advertise for a wife, published two years later.

A succession of books, principally novels, followed through the years, each finding more favor than the last Some of his best liked are "Quahaug," 1914; "Shavings," 1918; "The Portygee," 1919; "Galusha, the Magnificent," 1921; "Rugged Water," 1924; "The Aristocratic Miss Brewster," 1927; "Silas Bradford's Boy," 1928, and "Blowing Clear," 1930.

With his son, known as Freeman, the father collaborated on a novel ("Blair's Attic," 1929) in the fashion of the famous writing team of Alexandre Dumas, pere and fils.

Mr. Lincoln's last novel, "The Bradshaws of Harniss," published in December—some forty years and forty books after his first—makes a concession to time only in telling of old Zenas Bradshaws nephew winning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the efforts of small business men to keep themselves going.

     "Otherwise," wrote a reviewer, "nothing has changed * * * neither the manner nor the basic matter of these books."

In recent years Mr. Lincoln spent part of the winter in Florida, far from his beloved Cape Cod, but where he could still hear the surge of the sea. His home was at Villanova, Pa., but to the last he maintained a summer place on the Cape, at Chatham.

On May 12, 1897, he married Florence E. Sargent.
[photo JOSEPH C. LINCOLN - Andre Snow. 1935]