BERLIN, Pa. — Most people can share at least one story about a run-in with someone famous. Even fewer people can say they're related to someone famous.
A Pennsylvania man is in that niche group, and you'd be hard pressed to find someone more well-known than his cousin.
Ralph Lincoln has a pretty famous relative and if you think you've already made the connection you can thank his mother for asking him to shave one day. "I said OK. Went back to the bathroom, shaved the mustache off, came out and said, 'Good enough?' and she said good. By that time, she had this picture right here that I have in my hand off the wall, and she said 'Now look at him, go to the mirror and look at yourself. You look like your cousin.' and your cousin is President Lincoln," Ralph told WJAC.
Inside his Berlin home, his unique story is really not that big of a deal to the family. But when others find out, they have quite a different reaction.
Ralph's relation to President Lincoln was something he knew about well before he took a razor to his mustache. He's a historian of sorts. He's done reenactments, speeches, and is involved in a slew of historical societies.
This 11th generation Lincoln can tell you practically anything about our 16th president. But the man who knows so much about Abraham Lincoln can only tell you so much about Ralph Lincoln.
The discovery of a brain tumor in the 1980s ravaged much of Ralph's memory prior to that. Referring to his memory prior to 1982, Ralph said, "it's garbled up. It's a mess. Most of it I don't remember. I looked at photo albums, and they're just pictures. They hold nothing else to me except for it's a picture."
The diagnosis was grim if he underwent surgery, but the doctor's prediction was even worse if he didn't undergo surgery. "I'm going to give you a 50/50 chance of living, a 50/50 chance of being paralyzed, or partially. There's always a risk," Ralph remembers him saying. "If I seen the flowers coming up in spring, he didn't think I would see too much past that. And I just said 'Do it. Do the surgery.'"
The surgery was a success. Ralph didn't suffer any paralysis, but said it's still not uncommon for him to forget things about his day-to-day life. So, he keeps a journal. "If I need to pull a reference, say 'What did I do last Monday?' I got a book. I can read it," said Ralph.
The man who sifts through history books is now sifting through history of his own.
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