Losing a home is a cruel thing, but life can be cruel—even to those destined for greatness.
Abraham Lincoln was born in a meager, one-room cabin on the Big South Fork of Nolin's Creek near Hodgenville, Kentucky. It had a dirt floor, one window and a stick-clay chimney. Lincoln's father, Tom, had paid $200 for the cabin and 300 acres of discouraging land.
After four years of fighting mosquitoes, heat and hardscrabble land, the Lincolns found out that there was a defect in the title. They didn't have the right sort of papers for the property and somebody else had a better claim to the land. They had to pack up and leave, so with three-year-old Abe in his mother's arms, the family moved eight miles away to Knob Creek.
In less than four years after that move, Tom Lincoln had to go to court to prove his ownership rights to this second farm! Another claimant to the land sued him as a "trespasser." Tom Lincoln won the suit, but was haunted by the fear that he might someday lose another property. There was enough talk of land-titles, landowners, landlords, land-laws, land-lawyers and land-sharks to make him unsure of his title. After all, Daniel Boone, the first pioneer of the Kentucky wilderness, had lost every inch of his once vast landholdings because he had "the wrong kind of papers."
It was the anxiety and outright losses of the Lincolns and other hard-working Americans that gave rise to today's title insurance industry. The first land title insurance company was founded in Philadelphia in 1876. Just a few years later, in 1889, the firm that was to become First American Title Insurance Company was established to protect buyers against the hidden hazards of real estate ownership: forgeries; faulty surveys; hidden liens; conveyances by a minor or mentally incompetent person as being single; and many other title defects. Even the most complete search of records may not reveal them all.
Today, the unfortunate loss of the Lincoln family would have been covered by insurance had Thomas Lincoln owned a title policy.
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