• Inside the Lincoln Sitting Room

    Lincoln Home

    National Historic Site Illinois

Nancy Hanks Lincoln [Mother]

Nancy Hanks Lincoln was born in Virginia in 1784. Her family later moved to Kentucky where, on June 12, 1806, she married Thomas Lincoln. She gave birth to three children: Sarah (February 10, 1807), Abraham (February 12, 1809), and Thomas (1812), who died in infancy.

In 1816, the Lincoln family migrated to what is today Spencer County, Indiana. Two years later, on October 5, 1818, she died of "milk sickness," an illness contracted by drinking milk from a cow that had consumed the poisonous white snakeroot. She was buried in a hill-top, pioneer cemetery near the Lincoln farm.

Lincoln probably knew little of her background, since she died when he was nine, and his father quickly remarried. In later years, he referred to her as his "Angel Mother," that is, his deceased mother.

Sources: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, (1982) by Mark Neely and Lincoln's Youth (1959) by Louis A. Warren.

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Did You Know?

Photo of President Lincoln with beard

In 1860, eleven-year-old Grace Bedell wrote to Lincoln suggesting he grow a beard to “look a great deal better.” Lincoln met Bedell on his way to Washington, giving her a hearty kiss to thank her for her idea. Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois