Female Abt 1788 - 1818  (~ 30 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Nancy HANKS 
    Born Abt 1788  Mercer, Kentucky, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Female 
    Buried Abt 1818  about one-fourth of a mile from the log cabin and the Baptist Church; the pastor was Lamon. Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Died Oct 1818  [1, 3
    Person ID I19554  BlytheGenealogy
    Last Modified 1 Feb 2019 

    Father Joseph HANKS,   b. 1725, Gwynedd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1793, Bardstown, Nelson, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years) 
    Mother Nancy SHIPLEY,   b. Abt 1728,   d. Aft 1785  (Age ~ 58 years) 
    Married Aft 1728  [4
    Family ID F8695  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Thomas LINCOLN,   b. 6 Jan 1778, Linville Creek, Rockingham, Virginia, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married 12 Jun 1806  Hardin, Kentucky, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [4, 5
     1. Abraham LINCOLN,   b. 12 Feb 1809, Sinking Spring Farm, Hardin, Kentucky, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Apr 1865, Washington, District of Columbia, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 56 years)
     2. Sarah LINCOLN,   b. Abt 1812,   d. 1828  (Age ~ 16 years)
    Last Modified 20 Feb 2019 
    Family ID F8692  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Documents
    Monograph on Nancy Hanks
    Monograph on Nancy Hanks

  • Notes 
    • From time to time the superiority of record evidence over tradition, a nd of documentary proof over gossip and legend, is strikingly presente d. We have now an interest ing instance in the case of Abraham Lincoln 's parentage. There has been extant, ever since the career of Lincol n and every detail connected with him became the subject of sympatheti c interest on the part of his countrymen, a suppo sition that his moth er was not of legitimate birth. This, indeed, has not been treated a s a supposition : it haa been circumstantially and positively asserte d in some of the most authoritative biographies. In W. H. Herndon' Lif e" of Lincoln he relates the story of illegitimacy as coming from Linc oln himself in an isolated and notable conversa tion, and J. T. Mors e has cited this with full assurance in his "Life," in the "American S tatesmen" series. Other biographers allude to and recognize the tale , and it has no doubt been generally received and credited. Now, it i s plain that there is no truth whatever in this story. Nancy Hanks wa s not the daughter of "Lucy" vol. xxiv.?9 (129) 130 The Mother of Linc oln. Hanks, as Herndon so positively says ; in fact, it is not clear t hat there ever was such a person as Lucy Hanks. Nor was Nancy the daug hter of any unmarried woman. On was Nancy the daughter of any unmarrie d woman. On the contrary, her family record is unimpeachable, her birt h the contrary, her family record is unimpeachable, her birth is witho ut a cloud, the evil story concerning her is appar ently a pure invent ion?not a pure invention, either, but an impure, a base slander, deriv ed from some vulgar and scandalous source. If Lincoln ever told suc h a story to Herndon?which may be confidently disbelieved?he was mista ken, and must have been misled by some evil whisper that had been unha ppily brought to his ears.1 The little book, " Nancy Hanks," by Mrs. C aroline Hanks Hitchcock, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, published in 189 9 (New York : Doubleday & McClure Co.), is the source of the knowledg e which sets right this story of illegitimacy. It distinctly and concl usively shows who the mother of Lin coln was. It identifies both her p arents. It proves them reputable people. It places her in the list o f their children, with fall title to respect. There is other matter i n Mrs. Hitchcock's book, some of which is entitled to our consideratio n also, but this in rela tion to the parentage of Abraham Lincoln's mo ther is by far the most important. Mrs. Hitchcock has found (at Bard s town, Kentucky, the introduction to her book states) a document, her etofore unprinted, which is conclusive as to this point. She gives com plete, both in type and in photo graphic fac-simile, the will of Josep h Hanks. He was of Nelson County, Kentucky. His will is dated Januar y 9, 1793, and was duly probated in that county, May 14, of the same y ear. In his will Joseph Hanks names his eight children. There were fiv e sons, Thomas, Joshua, William, Charles, and Joseph, and three daught ers, Elizabeth, Polly, and Nancy. The will provides for them all, an d remembers equally the three girls. It thus records the father's impa r tial gifts : 1 The genesis of the idea of illegitimate birth was mad e easier by im perfect knowledge of the relationships of Nancy Hanks' s family. The Mother of Lincoln. 131 "Item.?I give and bequeath unto m y daughter Elizabeth one heifer yearling called Gentle. Item.?I give a nd bequeath unto my daughter Polly one heifer yearling called Lady. It em.?I give and bequeath unto my daughter Nancy one heifer yearling cal led Peidy. ' ' We have here in Nelson County, Kentucky, in the year W e have here in Nelson County, Kentucky, in the year 1793, Nancy Hanks , daughter of Joseph. That she was 1793, Nancy Hanks, daughter of Jose ph. That she was the same who thirteen years later, June 12, 1806, wa s married by the Rev. Jesse Head, the Methodist preacher, to Thomas Li ncoln, is not open to question. She is fully identified by abundant pr oof. Joseph Hanks had been in Kentucky, prior to his death, only abou t four years. He had come, it is said, from Amelia County, Virginia. F ollowing now Mrs. Hitchcock's general account, his wife was Nancy (sh e is called " Nanny" in the will), and she was the daughter of Rober t Shipley.1 The wife of Robert Shipley, Mrs. Hitchcock says, was name d Sarah Rachael. They were in Lunenburg County, Virginia, in 1765, whe re Robert Shipley bought land, three hundred and fourteen acres, Septe mber 16, of that year. Lunenburg County is near to Amelia County,2 i n which Joseph Hanks is said to have lived before his removal to Kentu cky. The Shipleys had five daughters. These and their mar riages, as g iven by Mrs. Hitchcock, were : 1. Mary. She married Abraham Lincoln, o f Rocking ham County, Virginia (son of John Lincoln, who had come fro m Berks County, Pennsylvania). She was thus the mother of Thomas Linco ln. Abraham Lincoln removed to Kentucky with his family, and was kille d there by Indians, 1784. 2. Lucy. She married Richard Berry. They rem oved to Kentucky, probably in 1789, with Joseph Hanks and 1 This is th e statement also of Mr. Samuel Shackford, in his paper on Lincoln's an cestry, in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, April , 1887. He describes Eobert Shipley, however, as of North Carolina. 2M rs. Hitchcock says "the next county." It is not now so, Notto way Coun ty lying between. 132 The Mother of Lincoln. others. Lucy Berry, afte r the death of her sister Nancy, the wife of Joseph Hanks, which occur red soon after the death of Joseph, " brought up" her niece, Nancy Han ks. Richard Berry was the bondsman for Thomas Lincoln in his marriag e to Nancy Hanks. The marriage took place at Rich ard Berry's house, a t Beechland, near Springfield, in Wash ington County, Kentucky. It i s this Lucy?Berry?who ington County, Kentucky. It is this Lucy?Berry?w ho has been called in several of the biographies of Lincoln has been c alled in several of the biographies of Lincoln "Lucy Hanks," it bein g supposed, through the mists of dim recollection, that Nancy Hanks wa s actually her daugh ter by blood, and not merely by adoption. 3. Sara h. She married Robert Mitchell ; they removed to Kentucky. 4. Elizabet h. She married Thomas Sparrow. This family also went to Kentucky, an d in the accounts of those who remembered the Lincolns and the Hankse s there are many allusions to the Sparrows. 5. Nancy. She married Jose ph Hanks, referred to above. His will identifies her. " I give and beq ueath to my wife Nanny all and singular my whole estate during her lif e, afterward to be equally divided between all my children .... I cons titute, ordain, and appoint my wife Nanny and my son William as execut rix and executor to this my last will and testament." DESCENT OF NANC Y HANKS. Robert Shipley === Sarah Rachael Mary Lucy Sarah Elizabeth Na ncy m. m. m. m. m. Abraham Lincoln Richard Berry Thomas Joshua William , m. Elizabeth Charles Joseph, m. Polly Young Elizabeth, m. Levi Hal l -1 Polly, m. Jesse Friend Thomas Lincoln == Nancy Abkaham Lincoln Th e Mother of Lincoln. 133 It will be observed that Thomas Lincoln and N ancy Hanks were first cousins?he the son of Mary Shipley, and she th e daughter of Nancy Shipley. I am not aware that this fact has heretof ore been distinctly brought out. Mrs. Hitchcock's book not only give s in fac-simile the will of Joseph Hanks, but also, in fac-simile, thr ee docu ments which relate to the marriage of Thomas Lincoln and Nanc y Hanks, and which fix the time and the place, as well as the fact, be yond cavil. These are (1) the marriage bond as the fact, beyond cavil . These are (1) the marriage bond given by Thomas Lincoln and Richar d Berry, June 10, given by Thomas Lincoln and Richard Berry, June 10 , 1806, two days before the marriage ; (2) the marriage cer tificate o f Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, signed by Rev. Jesse Head; (3) the " return list" of marriages sent in to the court clerk by Rev. Jesse Hea d, dated April 22, 1807, and containing with fifteen others the marria ge of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, on the date already given. The s econd of these documents, as numbered above, is new, so far as I am aw are. The marriage bond and the " return list" were both printed in fac -simile in Nicolay and Hay'Life" of Lincoln, but not the certificate . Mrs. Hitchcock does not state where or when it was brought to light ; she mentions that "gradually the documents [re lating to the marriag e] were unearthed, owing largely to the efforts of Mrs. Vauter [? Vawt er] and Mr. Thompson, of Louisville, Kentucky." The certificate is, o f course, cumu lative testimony ; the return list, taken with the bond , was already conclusive on the fact of the marriage. The relationshi p of Nancy Hanks to Joseph Hanks, the carpenter, of Elizabethtown, wit h whom Thomas Lincoln " learned his trade," is made clear by the lis t of children in the will of the Joseph Hanks of 1793. The Joseph of 1 806 was evidently his son, the youngest of the five in the will. He wa s the brother of Nancy, and, like her, first cousin to Thomas Lincoln. 1 1 Nicolay and Hay say (Vol. I., p. 23), "he [Thomas Lincoln] mar rie d Nancy Hanks, a niece of his employer/' They add that "Mrs. 134 The M other of Lincoln. Mrs. Hitchcock gives a page or two to a defence of t he character of Thomas Lincoln. Probably this will be unavail ing, bu t it is no doubt just. The figure of Thomas Lincoln, as presented in m ost of the biographies of his son, is a caricature. In the earlier one s he appears as a good humored, indolent, and incapable person, but la ter ones, enlarging and dilating upon this, represent him as coarse, u ncouth, and altogether worthless. Out of this there grew a vulgar an d scandalous idea that Thomas Lincoln could not have been the father o f so great a son.1 A very moderate application of common sense to th e sub A very moderate application of common sense to the sub ject wil l show that the ordinary notion adverse to Thomas ject will show tha t the ordinary notion adverse to Thomas Lincoln is unreasonable. The k nown facts concerning him show him to have been a man of his class , a hardy and energetic pioneer, meeting resolutely the trials and dif ficul ties that faced him, and contending with them with fair success . Let us consider briefly some of these. (1) He learned a trade, tha t of a carpenter. (2) He took up a Lincoln's mother was named Lncy Han ks ; her sisters were Betty, Polly, and Nancy, who married Thomas Spar row, Jesse Friend, and Levi Hall." There is no little confusion in the se statements, but it may be readily corrected by a reference to the d iagram given above with the text. The foster mother of Nancy Hanks wa s Lucy (Shipley) Berry, her aunt. Betty Sparrow was her aunt as state d ; Polly Friend was her sister ; Nancy, sister of Lucy Berry, was he r own mother, not the wife of Levi Hall, but of Joseph Hanks ; Levi Ha ll's wife was the Elizabeth of the younger generation, Nancy's sister . The confusion in Nicolay and Hay at this point is presented also i n Herndon, who pretended to have such a competent knowledge. He says i n a foot-note, "Dennis and John Hanks have always insisted that Lincol n's mother was not a Hanks but a Sparrow. Both of them wrote to me tha t such was the fact. Their object in insisting on this is appar ent wh en it is shown that Nancy Hanks was the daughter of Lucy Hanks, who af terwards married Henry Sparrow. It will be observed [however] that Mr . Lincoln claimed that his mother was a Hanks." 1 This myth, not muc h admitted into print, exists orally and in manu script. A lady promin ent in literature, and otherwise well known, earnestly cautioned the w riter of this, some years ago, not to investigate the parentage of Lin coln. Yet, as we see, investigation was precisely the thing needed. Th e Mother of Lincoln. 135 quarter section of land (on Nolin's Creek), w hich it is testi fied was " a fair representative section of the lan d in the immediate region." Coffin, who saw it in 1890, says it was th en under cultivation, and yielding an average crop. (3) His second pur chase of land (Knob's Creek) had "many acres that are very fertile." l (4) He resolved to move to a State with free labor. (5) He sold ou t his Kentucky land without loss. (6) Though his boat was overset in t he river, he recovered his property. (7) He sought out good land in In diana. (8) He travelled seventy miles to Vincennes to enter his new cl aim. (9) Through the winter he hewed the timber for his new cabin. A s to his acuteness and his perception of character, cer As to his acut eness and his perception of character, cer tainly the selections he ma de when seeking both his first and tainly the selections he made whe n seeking both his first and second wives stand to his credit. Both Na ncy Hanks and Sally Bush are described by all as women of exceptiona l qualities. There were, it may be added, a Bible and other books in t he Indiana cabin, and Thomas apparently wrote his own name, withou t a " mark," to the marriage bond of 1806. The temptation to " heighte n the effect," to paint with vivid colors, in popular biographies, i s very strong, and it results in most unjustified and misleading?ofte n very unfair ?work. In the case of Thomas Lincoln I have not a par ti cle of doubt that the received picture of him is thoroughly wrong. Mrs . Hitchcock announces that a full genealogy of the Hanks family is i n preparation. In her present volume she sketches what she believes t o be the ancestry of Joseph Hanks, the father of Lincoln's mother, an d in this I am obliged to confess a particular interest. It was sugges ted in my book relating to the township of Gwynedd, Pennsylva nia, tha t it might very probably be that Nancy Hanks was descended from a fami ly of Hanke, or Hank, in the region 1 C. C. Coffin,?who adds : "It wou ld seem that his selections of land cannot with justice be cited as ev idence of inefficiency or want of judg ment. ' ' 136 The Mother of Lin coln. near Philadelphia, one of whom, John, died in Whitemarsh, 1730-3 1, another of whom was in Berks County, in the neighborhood of the Lin colns, about 1754, and one of whom, perhaps Joseph, is said to have go ne to Virginia with John Lincoln, grandfather of the President. This t heory was supported by a number of facts, and seemed to me very reason able. I had hoped that in time the finding of farther documentary evid ence might establish its correctness. Mean while, Nicolay and Hay hav e recognized its probability in their work, and Coffin has adopted i t more completely than anything I had said on the subject would quit e justify. Mrs. Hitchcock has, however, an entirely different line o f descent. She does not come back to Pennsylvania at all ; she has a M assachusetts immigrant ancestor for the Ken tucky Hankses. Here is th e line she offers : tucky Hankses. Here is the line she offers : I. Be njamin Hanks, from England (probably Malmes I. Benjamin Hanks, from En gland (probably Malmes bury, in Wilts), who, with others, landed in Pl ymouth, Mas sachusetts, 1699, and settled in Pembroke, Plymouth County . " Among the parish records of Rev. Daniel Lewis," Mrs. Hitchcock ha s found the list of his children, eleven by a first wife and one b y a second. The third one was? II. William, born in Pembroke, Plymout h County, Feb ruary 11, 1704. Of him, beyond his birth, there is no fu r ther record. Mrs. Hitchcock accepts family tradition that he went o n a sailing-vessel to Virginia, and settled " near the mouth of the Ra ppahannock River, where his sons, Abraham, Richard, James, John, and J oseph, were born." HI. Joseph. Mrs. Hitchcock says all of William's ch il dren, named above, " with the exception of John, moved to Amelia Co unty, Virginia, where they bought large planta tions near each other, " and adds that " Joseph must have moved to Amelia County, with the re st, about 1740." She proceeds then to identify him as the same Josep h Hanks who was in Nelson County, Kentucky, in 1793, and who made hi s will and died there that year. We must see more of the evidence whic h Mrs. Hitchcock may be presumed to have, and which we suppose she wil l The Mother of Lincoln. 137 print in her larger book, before a defini te judgment can be passed on this Massachusetts derivation of Lincoln' s mother. But we may fairly examine a moment what is now offered. Ther e is record evidence, it seems, that a Joseph Hanks was in Amelia Coun ty, Virginia, much earlier than the time of the removal to Kentucky . A person of that name sold land there in 1747, and bought other lan d in 1754. The records of these transactions Mrs. Hitchcock found in R ichmond. The sale in 1747 was 284 acres " on the lower side of Selle r Creek," to Abraham Hanks, presumed to be Joseph's brother. The purch ase in 1754 was a Crown grant of 246 acres " on the upper side of Swea thouse Creek," adjoining land of Abraham Hanks and others. There are s ome weak places, certainly, in this chain. The " family traditions" co ncerning William need support. His migration from Plymouth to tidewate r Virginia, and his location " near the mouth of the Rappahannock Rive r," location " near the mouth of the Rappahannock River," seem vague a nd uncertain. But, accepting them as correct, seem vague and uncertain . But, accepting them as correct, was William's son, Joseph, the sam e person as he whose will showed him to be Nancy Hanks's father ? It i s a long gap in time?and a long distance as well?between an authentica ted date in Massachusetts in 1704 and another in Kentucky in 1793. On e thing seems tolerably plain. The Joseph Hanks who sold land in Ameli a County in 1747 cannot have been the son of William, born in 1704. Th ere is not enough time. Forty-three years is not sufficient for Willia m to grow up, marry, and have a fifth child of competent age for makin g title to land. If we suppose William to marry at the early age of tw enty, in 1724, and suppose his fifth child to be born in six years,?mo st unlikely,?that would make Joseph's birth in 1730, and in 1747 he wo uld legally only be an "infant," seventeen years old. Certainly, unles s some of Mrs. Hitchcock's dates, or other of her data, are wrong, i t is very difficult to suppose that the Joseph Hanks of 1747 is the so n of William Hanks, born in 1704. And, if this be conceded, the questi on follows, Was the Joseph of 1754 138 The Mother of Lincoln. William' s son? The two Josephs who sold and bought land in the one county, 174 7 and 1754, were probably the the same person, so if one was not Willi am's son the other was not. If, however, these difficulties are dispos ed of, the question next arises, Can the Joseph Hanks of 1754 be the s ame whose daughter, Nancy, was born in 1784 ? In such a case thirty ye ars is a good while. Mrs. Hitchcock says that it was on the tract boug ht in 1754 "he [Joseph] then settled, and all his children were born. " If he acquired it for a home, being then married, or about to marry , it is unlikely, though possible, that even his youngest child woul d be born thirty years after?of one wife. Again, Robert Shipley is sta ted to have bought his land in Lunenburg County in 1765?eleven years a fter Joseph Hanks's purchase of 1754 in Amelia County. Are we to infe r that Joseph did not marry Mary Shipley until her father bought thi s land? Joseph would be in 1765, if of age in 1754, a bachelor of at l east thirty-one years?quite a contrast to the early mar at least thirt y-one years?quite a contrast to the early mar riage of his father whic h we are obliged to assume in order riage of his father which we are o bliged to assume in order to make Joseph of age in 1754. I have no des ire to argue any question with Mrs. Hitch cock, nor to throw discredi t on her work, in which all who care for the Lincoln family-tree are i nterested. The con tribution she makes concerning Joseph Hanks of 179 3 is? as has been said?highly important. It is to be hoped that her fu ll account of the Hanks family in America will make all the now obscur e points perfectly plain. I cannot entirely give up, as yet, the ide a of the connection of the Hanke people in Pennsylvania with the Linco lns. That appears to rest on a good foundation at some points, if it s hould prove to be unfounded as to the vital one?the parentage of Nanc y Hanks.
      [The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 24, No. 2 (1 900), pp. 129-138]

      Monograph by William H. Herndon (Lincoln's law partner in Springfield , IL) Greencastle, Indiana, August 20, 1887

      Dennis Hanks and all the other Hankses, their cousins and relatives ca ll Nancy Hanks, Nancy Sparrow. Why is she thus called Nancy Sparrow ? Lucy Hanks was her mother; Lucy, the mother of Nancy, married Henr y Sparrow. Nancy Hanks was taken and raised by Thomas and Betsey Spar row. Why did not her mother, Lucy Sparrow, keep and raise her own dau ghter? Did Henry Sparrow object to the mother, his wife, keeping an d raising her own daughter? Dennis Hanks says to me this substantiall y (to be quoted word for word) in a letter written to me, dated Februa ry, 1866: "Don't call her Nancy Hanks because that would make her base -born." Very well, Dennis, shrewd, sly Dennis. It is a universal cus tom, habit, and a practical rule of all English-speaking people, inclu ding the American, as a matter of course, to call all illegitimate chi ldren after and from the mother's name, and not the father's name, bec ause of the cruel fiction of the law that such children are supposed t o be the children of no one, rather a vast presumption, I willingly ad mit. If Henry Sparrow had been the father of Nancy Hanks, then she ou ght by law and justice to be called Nancy Sparrow, but unfortunately , Henry Sparrow, the husband of her mother, was not her father. Nanc y Hanks was born before her mother was married to Henry Sparrow. Ho w is this, Dennis? Abraham Lincoln, always honest and truthful, says , substantially,
      under his own hand in a short Life of himself written at Springfield , Illinois,
      for Jesse W. Fell of Bloomington, Illinois, to be a kind a campaign bi ography of '60, this: "My mother's name is Nancy Hanks," or to put i t exactly, Lincoln says in that short biography of himself written t o Fell: "My mother, who died in my infancy, was of a family of the nam e of Hanks." Why did he not say, if such was the truth, that she wa s of the family of the Sparrows? Simply because she was not of the Spa rrow family. Lincoln knew her origin but kept it to himself. In tha t Fell biography I guess I can state what Lincoln himself states in th e matter; and if to call her Hanks is to make her base-born, charge he r son with the offense, not me. Dennis, sly, shrewd Dennis, wishes t o cover up the truth, smother up the sad fact, if it is such. Lincol n boldly and truthfully speaks out, and now the question comes: Who w as the father of Nancy Hanks, Lincoln's mother? Lucy Hanks, her mothe r, was never married to any Hanks so far as we can find out, nor to an y other person before or after she married Henry Sparrow, or before sh e had Nancy. When Nancy Hanks was born, who was Lucy Hanks's husband ? This is quite a pertinent question. What did Lincoln say to Scripps , his campaign biographer? No one need for this matter rely on wha t I say or have
      said, that Lincoln told me that his mother was illegitimate - he tol d me that
      his mother was an illegitimate child of a Virginia planter or large fa rmer.
      However, the record tells its own story and speaks for itself and, ha d not the
      record spoken out, it is more than probable that I should have kept th e secret forever, though I was not forbidden to reveal the fact afte r Lincoln's death. I never uttered this to mortal man, directly or in directly, till after the death of Lincoln. And now again, who was th e father of Nancy Hanks, the mother of the President of the United Sta tes? Will some gentleman, some lady tell me? The father of Nancy Han ks is no other than a Virginian planter, large farmer of the highest a nd best blood of Virginia, and it is just here that Nancy got her goo d rich blood, tinged with genius. Mr. Lincoln told me that she wa s a genius and that he got his mind from her. Nancy Hanks Lincoln wa s a woman of a very fine mind, an excellent heart, quick in sympathy , a natural lady, a good neighbor, a firm freind; good cheer and hilar ity generally accompanied her, and had she been raised at all, she mus t have flourished anywhere, but as it was, she was rude, tough, breaki ng and having difficulty through all forms, conditions, customs, habit s, etiquette of society. She could not be held to forms and methods o f things, and yet she was a fine woman naturally. It is quite probabl e that a knowledge of her origin made her defiant and desperate; she w as very sensitive, sad, sometimes gloomy; who will tell me the amoun t and influence of her feelings, in this matter, caused by the conscio usness of her origin? Let the world forgive her and bless her, is m y constant prayer. Lincoln often thought of committing suicide. Why ? Did the knowledge of his mother's origin, or his own, press the tho ught of suicide upon him? Who will weigh the force of such an idea a s illegitimacy on man and woman, especially when that man or woman i s very sensitive, such as Lincoln was? God keep such people.


      Abraham's mother, was five feet eight inches high, spare made, affecti onate -- the most affectionate I ever saw -- never knew her to be ou t of temper, and thought strong of it. She seemed to be immovably calm ; she was keen, shrewd, smart, and I do say highly intellectual by nat ure. Her memory was strong, her perception was quick, her judgment wa s acute almost. She was spiritually and ideally inclined, not dull, no t material, not heavy in thought, feeling or action. Her hair was dar k hair, eyes bluish green -- keen and loving. Here weight was one hund red thirty.

      The tradition was that her family were from Virginia. She was a tall w oman, above middle height, with black hair, little educated, but of ma rked character, and a mind naturally intelligent and vigorous. Her exp erience in the rude frontier life was hard. The glimpses we get of he r in the biography of her great son are somber, and probably to her th e President owed that underlying element of sad thoughtfulness in hi s nature, always so apparent, and so in contrast with the humorous sur face traits that perhaps came from his father. Nancy Hank, there is li ttle doubt, was a descendant of that John who was in Rockingham county , Virginia, in 1787. Her family name was English, but her black hair w e may believe she had from the Welsh blood of her ancestress Sarah Eva ns, of Gwynedd.

  • Sources 
    1. [S3388] Letter from Dennis Hanks, online [ _hanks.htm], accessed.

    2. [S3391] Statement from John Hanks, online [ hanks.htm], accessed.

    3. [S3390] Nat Grigsby's Statement, online [ by.htm], accessed.

    4. [S4335] Howard M. Jenkins, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography , Vol. 24, No. 2 1900, pp. 129.

    5. [S3389] Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery, Parke and Fountain Cou nties, Indiana: Biographical.