Mini Biography of Nancy Hanks Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Lincoln was born on February 5, 1784 in present-day West Virginia. Through documented existing records (verified by noted Lincoln family historian Louis A. Warren) James Hanks (son of Joseph Hanks, a prominent settler in the Virginia wilderness during the late eighteenth century) was her father and Lucinda (Lucy) Shipley (daughter of Robert Shipley, another prominent pioneer in the history of early Kentucky) was her mother. James Hanks apparently died in 1785, and when Nancy was about four, the Hanks and Shipley families moved westward to Kentucky together. Once the pioneers arrived in the untamed wilderness, Nancy went to live with her mother's sister, Rachel Shipley Berry, in the Beechwood area of Washington County, Kentucky. Years later when Nancy was a teenager she met Thomas Lincoln while still living with the Berry family. They were married in June 1806 and briefly lived in various areas surrounding Washington County. Their first child was born in 1807 followed by a second named Abraham in February 1809. A third child followed but died soon after. In 1816 the Lincoln family decided to settle in nearby Indiana. Two years later during the fall of 1818 tragedy struck the little community called Pigeon Creek, where the Lincolns had settled, as an unknown illness rapidly swept through the neighborhood without warning, killing Nancy Hanks Lincoln on October 5, 1818. She was only thirty-four years old.

The untimely death of Nancy Hanks Lincoln had a profound effect on her son throughout his childhood and adult life but despite this tragedy, Abraham Lincoln never forgot what she had meant to him and upon becoming President in 1860 he proudly acknowledged his late mother by crediting her with being solely responsible for the man he had become. In the years since Nancy Hanks Lincoln has been honored with yearly pilgrimages to her gravesite in Indiana at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial State Park by people from all over the United States paying homage to the woman who gave history such a great human being to honor and appreciate. In October 2014, a (global) Internet public library named in honor of Nancy Hanks Lincoln was created by publisher Gary Brin to further honor the woman whose dedication to education inspired her son to achieve extraordinary greatness despite having so many insurmountable obstacles placed in his path at such a young age. Education is the key to success. Knowledge is power.

For more information about Nancy Hanks Lincoln, read or download a free copy of her definitive biography originally published in 1952 titled Nancy Hanks Lincoln: A Frontier Portrait located in the American Politics section of this library under the Books tab.