From colonial times to 1869 a large buttonwood tree played an important part in identifying the settlement in the eastern part of Lower Oxford Township. During the American Revolution one of its early settlers, Captain James McDowell, recruited a company of soldiers in and around Oxford, three miles to the southwest, and drilled them under the tree near his home. When students of Lincoln University, then called Ashmun Institute, used the railroad station at West Branch, one mile south of the village, they crossed the shadows of the buttonwood tree. When the Baltimore Central Railroad realized in the middle 1850s that most of the passengers getting on and off at West Branch station were from Hinsonville, it closed the railroad station and opened a new one called Buttonwood on the site where Captain McDowell drilled his recruits in 1775. The name Buttonwood lasted until the postal authorities established a post office in 1869 to serve the Ashmun Institute, and the surrounding settlers. The post office was named Lincoln University, but nearly everybody in the vicinity shortened it to Lincoln for local usage. The name Buttonwood got lost in the shuffle, just as Hinsonville often does.