Nancy Hanks was born on February 5, 1784 in Hampshire County, Virginia (now Mineral County, West Virginia). By the time she was nine years old, she was orphaned and living in what would become the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
As Nancy grew into womanhood she was employed as a seamstress. It was there that she came to know Thomas Lincoln who was employed as a carpenter.
Thomas lived on a neighboring farm, and, over the years, their friendship grew into something more; they eventually married on June 12, 1806.
The union would produce three children, Sarah, born on February 10, 1807, Abraham, born on February 12, 1809, and Thomas Jr., who died in infancy.
During the first ten years of their marriage, Thomas and Nancy occupied three different farms in Kentucky, but boundary disputes caused them to lose all three.
Thomas finally decided to move his family to Indiana. In the winter of 1816, they settled in present-day Spencer County in what became known as the Little Pigeon community.
After spending the winter in a temporary shelter, Thomas and young Abraham built a sturdy log cabin. In addition to the hard work, life on the frontier often included tragedy as well. They were not immune to the many hazards that threatened all pioneers in the 19th century.
The autumn frosts of 1818 had already colored the foliage of the huge trees of oak, hickory and walnut when neighbors became desperately ill, stricken with the dreaded milk sickness.
The disease resulted when cows ate the white snakeroot plant and the poison from the plant contaminated the milk. People who drank this poisoned milk or ate its products faced death. On October 5, 1818, within two weeks of the first symptoms, Nancy died (Abraham was nine).
Death in a one-room log cabin was a grim experience for the survivors. Nancy’s body was prepared for burial in the very room in which the family lived. Thomas and nine-year old Abraham whipsawed logs into planks, and with wooden pegs they fastened the boards together into a coffin. (NPS)
Abraham married Mary Todd, and they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity. In 1858 Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. He lost the election, but in debating with Douglas he gained a national reputation.
He won the Republican nomination for President in 1860 and swept the north and was elected president. He was sworn in as the 16th President of the US on March 4, 1861.
On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. (White House)
Relatives of Abraham Lincoln, on his mother’s side (Nancy Hanks), made it to the Islands.
Frederick Leslie Hanks, a New Yorker, was a sailor in the Pacific who recorded some of the important state relations between Japan and the United States in the 1840s. (Iaukea) He became active in Hawaiian affairs during the 1850s. (Hawaiian Church Chronicle, 1939)
His daughter was Charlotte Kahaloipua Hanks. “Her maternal grandfather was Kekualaula and her grand uncle Keawaaua, high chiefs of the islands of Hawai‘i and O‘ahu. Her mother was Akini Wahinekapuokaahumanu.”
Charlotte “was a prominent figure in the picturesque era of the monarchy of Hawai‘i. … On April 7, 1877, she was married to Col. Iaukea, then in the office of the chamberlain of the kingdom.”
“Col Iaukea became adjutant general of King Kalakaua’s army and later become chamberlain and special envoy from the kingdom of Hawai‘i to various European and oriental countries.”
“She naturally spent most of her time at court and was a lady in waiting to Queen Kapiolani, consort of Kalakaua. She was created a knight companion of Kapiolani and also received the Royal Order of Takovo of Serbia.”
“She was closely associated with Queen Lili‘uokalani and after the dethronement and until the death of the former queen was her loyal and devoted friend.”
“She was a member of the Daughters of Hawai‘i and one of her many interests was the Kapiolani maternity hospital.” (Hawaiian Church Chronicle, 1939) Charlotte Kahaloipua Hanks Iaukea, related to Abraham Lincoln, died November 17, 1939.
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