HARTFORD – In the year 1832, a man was born in Hartford who would have a place in U.S. history in 1865.

George Foster Robinson, who was born in Hartford while his mother was living in the home now occupied by Ginnie McFarland in Hartford, played a role in sustaining the administration of Abraham Lincoln.

Robinson was not at Ford’s Theater on the night Lincoln was assassinated, but was temporally assigned to guard Secretary of State William H. Seward, who was bedridden due to injuries received when his carriage overturned a few days before, according to McFarland and Internet sites.

Robinson himself was recovering from battlefield wounds, but helped to ward off the attack by Lewis Payne, who stabbed Seward in his bed.

Seward survived the stabbing and two years later brokered the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

As a result, Congress named a 10,415-foot peak in Alaska as Mount Sergeant Robinson.

Hanging over the fireplace in the McFarland home on a 20-inch-wide pumpkin pine board is a plaque that the state of Maine presented to Hartford during its bicentennial in 2005, which was then given to McFarland to hang in her home.

The plaque states “… A coconspirator of John Wilkes Booth made an attempt on the Secretary’s life and was stopped by Major Robinson after a struggle. In 1871 Major Robinson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his heroism.”

Original condition

McFarland and her husband, Ned, raised four children in the Hartford home when it was used as a summer home and later when it became their full-time residence in the late ’60s.

Before the house was purchased by her grandfather and given to her father in 1931, McFarland said her family would come up from Massachusetts every summer and stay at Green Acres, which was then owned by her uncle, Lawrence Poland.

Her house has not been renovated over the years and McFarland proudly shows off paneling with 20- to 30-inch boards that her father found when he took off layers of wallpaper. The house was put together with wooden pegs.

McFarland, 89, speaks fondly about the summers spent in the house and attending formal dinners and dances at neighboring Green Acres.

“We had quite a social life in those days,” he said.


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