Marker #1999 Buena Vista/Todd House

Historical Marker #1999, in Frankfort, Kentucky, notes the location of Buena Vista, the summer home of the Todd family, which also served as the family’s escape during the first cholera epidemic in Kentucky from 1832 to 1835.

The Todds were among the first white families to set roots in Kentucky. During the eighteenth century, the Todd brothers John, Robert, and Levi, settled in the land that is now central Kentucky. Levi’s son, Robert S. Todd, was a wealthy banker, businessman, merchant, and politician. His first wife, Eliza Ann Parker, who was Mary Lincoln’s mother, died in 1825. He quickly remarried to Elizabeth Humphreys. The Todds were considered elite in Lexington. They lived in a fine brick house on West Main Street and had connections with some of the wealthiest and most influential people in Kentucky.

In addition to his home in Lexington, Robert Todd also owned a country summer home, Buena Vista, in Franklin County. Todd acquired Buena Vista in the 1830s from the family of his second wife. The rural retreat provided a place of refuge from the summer city heat and served as the family’s haven during the cholera epidemic. Buena Vista consisted of a large two-story frame house that had a stone kitchen ell. A log smokehouse, stone springhouse, and stone quarters which housed the enslaved men and women who worked at Buena Vista were also on the property. After Robert Todd’s death in 1849, the house became the property of his wife. In 1851, Mary and Abraham Lincoln, along with young sons Robert and Edward, visited Elizabeth at Buena Vista. The home remained in her possession until about 1860 when she sold it to W. B. Risk. The home and land passed hands several times throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. After falling into disrepair, Buena Vista was razed in 1947.

Marker #1999 was dedicated in 1999 by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department of Highways. It reads: Buena Vista. One-half mile south is site of two-story frame house best known as the summer residence of Robert S. Todd (1791-1849), father of first lady Mary Todd Lincoln. The large family took refuge here from the heat and cholera of summertime in Lexington. As a child, Mary Todd Lincoln spent many summers here. Presented by Cliff and Joan Howard.
(Reverse) Todd House. Mary Todd Lincoln later brought her own sons on visits to her stepmother Elizabeth Humphreys. Sometimes the future president, Abraham Lincoln, was able to join them, traveling by rail to nearby Duckers Station. The house was razed in 1947. Only a remnant of stone spring house remains. Over. Presented by Todd and Lincoln Friends.