Thomas Lincoln (1776 or 1778-1851) and Nancy Hanks Lincoln (1784-1818)

Thomas Lincoln (1776 or 1778-1851) and Nancy Hanks Lincoln (1784-1818)

Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks were married in 1806 in Hardin County, Kentucky. Their second child, Abraham (named after his paternal grandfather who had been “killed by Indians”), was born in 1809 on a three hundred-acre farm Thomas had purchased on Nolin Creek a year earlier.

The family moved to Indiana following the loss of three properties owned by Thomas, a victim of Kentucky’s land title laws. There, when Abraham was nine years old, his mother died. Within the year, Thomas remarried a widow, Sarah Bush Johnston, whom Abraham would refer to as “Mother” for the rest of his life.

Thomas, who had lived a respectable life as citizen and farmer, then moved his family to Illinois. Once there, he appears to have fallen under the questionable influence of his stepson, John D. Johnston, with whom he was named as codefendant in four of five lawsuits brought against him between 1831 and 1841.

Despite reports to the contrary, Thomas did not discourage his son from learning. Still, Abraham later noted that he learned grammar only after he had “separated” from his father. Their relationship deteriorated over the years to the degree that, upon learning of his father’s impending death in 1851, Abraham wrote to his stepmother from Washington, D.C.: “Say to him that if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant.”


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