January 6, 1828: Ward Hill Lamon Born in Jefferson County

Jan 6, 2017

Lincoln brought Lamon with him to Washington to serve as U.S. marshal of the District of Columbia. The six-foot four-inch Lamon’s official job was to oversee the city’s prisons.
Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 6, 1828, Ward Hill Lamon was born in Jefferson County. He was raised at Bunker Hill, in Berkeley County, before moving to Danville, Illinois, at age 18. In 1852, Lamon’s life took a historic twist when he became the law partner of a former congressman—Abraham Lincoln.

The partnership ended four years later, when Lamon was elected prosecuting attorney. But they reunited when Lincoln became president in 1861. Lincoln brought Lamon with him to Washington to serve as U.S. marshal of the District of Columbia. The six-foot four-inch Lamon’s official job was to oversee the city’s prisons. But his unofficial duty was to serve as the president’s bodyguard. He monitored Lincoln’s movements and sometimes slept on the floor beside him.

At the end of the Civil War, Lamon was dispatched to Richmond, making him unavailable to guard the president on that fateful night at Ford’s Theater. After Lincoln’s assassination, Lamon came back to West Virginia to practice law. In 1876, he was passed over for the Republican nomination for governor and lost a race for congress. Lamon died in Martinsburg in 1893 at age 65.