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16. Dennis F. Hanks (Erastus Wright interview).

Chicago Illinois 8th June 1865

Dennis F. Hanks at Chicago Illinois on 8th June 1865 makes the following statements in relation to the Genealogy of Abraham Lincoln Late President of the United States — at the request of Erastus Wright of Springfield Ills.

Abraham Lincoln was the Son of Thomas Lincoln who was the Son of Mordecai Lincoln. His Grand Father Mordecai was killed by the Indians near Boone Station in Kentucky when his Son Thomas was six years old. His Grand Mother whose maiden name was Lucy Hanks, was my own Aunt.

The Grand Parents Mordecai and Lucy Lincoln were both born in old Virginia and lived on the Roanoke River the County not recollected. After they moved out into Kentucky near the year 1790 with their family The Indians being irritated by the encroachments of the whites Mordecai the Grand Father of Abraham was killed near Boone Station (suppose the renowned Indian Fighter Daniel Boone)

Thomas Lincoln, his Son and the Father of Abraham was born in Virginia on the Roanoke River. after he came to Kentucky was married in Hardin Co. Ky I think in the year 1806 to Miss Nancy Sparrow They lived in Ky near ___ years and had 3 children viz. Sally Thomas and Abraham They moved from Kentucky to Indiana about the year _____ Nancy the wife of Thomas and Mother of Abraham was one of the best of women Meek quiet and amiable She died in Spencer Co Indiana in September 1818. Sally their Eldest child married to Aaron Griggsby of Spencer Co Indiana and lived only about 12 months and died at the birth of her first child —

Thomas the 2d child named after his Father did not live 3 days

After living in Indiana by Farming and some mechanical work about 13 years, Thomas Lincoln hearing of the rich Prairies of Illinois already cleared up and prepared for the plow decided to go, and moved to Macon County Illinois on the 20th March 1829, where he lived until the time of the Black Hawk War in 1832 when he moved to Coles County Illinois about 8 miles South of Charleston and lived there until he died near 1851 in December just before Christmas

I think Abraham Lincoln was 9 years old when they moved from Ky to Spencer Co Indiana

Thomas Lincoln the Father of Abraham was a Pioneer in Kentucky and Also a Pioneer in Indiana and like most Pioneers delighted in having a good hunt The Deer, the Turkeys the Bear the wild cats and occasionally a big Panther afforded him no small amusement and pleasure — and was a great Source of Subsistence as the wild Turkeys and Deer were very abundant — The Honey Bee Luxuriated


on the Prairie flowers and afforded in the Groves a large supply of wild honey Thomas Lincoln could with propriety be classed with the "Hunters of Kentucky" he seldom failed of success He was a large man of great muscular power his usual weight 196 pounds I have weighed him many a time he was 5 feet 10˝ inches high and well proportioned

His Religious belief coincided with the "Separate Baptists" often now called the "Free willd Baptists" to which church he belonged was good humoured sociable and never appeared to be offended

He was Singular in one point though not a fleshy man he was built so compact that it was difficult to find or feel a rib in his body — A muscular man, his equal I never saw

At a gathering in Hardinsburg Ky. a certain Wm Breckenridge was reputed and cracked up as the best man in Breckenridge county and Lincolns friends and neighbors disputed it and Said that with a fair chance Lincoln could whip him. It was agreed to and they both consented for a fair fight they soon stript and went at it, and Thomas Lincoln whipd him in less than two minutes without getting a scratch —

Said Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Sparrow were married in Hardin Co Ky I think in 1806 Nancy Sparrow was born in Mercer Co Ky in 1792 near Elizabethtown, her Parents _______

Thomas Lincoln learnt his trade as a Carpenter in Hardin Co Ky with my Uncle Joseph Hanks and married Joseph Hanks Niece which was my own cousin — Lincoln was a farmer and mechanic and worked at either that was most profetable

Abraham Lincoln the late President was born on the 12th Feby 1809 in Hardin Co Ky on Knobb Creek, so called, which run into the Rollingfork which emptied into the Beach Fork and then into the Ohio River

His Father like most Pioneers lived in log houses most of the time was comfortable and happy and realized that "the Sleep of the laboring man was sweet".

The first house shelter he had in Indiana was a half faced camp such as is now often seen in Sugar Camps Their Tables were broad Puncheons or slabs, split with mawl and wedges out of large logs and dressed off with the broad axe and auger holes put in to receive the legs This was no uncommon thing then with all the new settlements Yea! I made one of those tables myself in ___ for Thomas Lincoln the Father of Abraham as we both settled there near together in Spencer Co Indiana Abraham went to school with his Sister Sally on Knobb Cr in Hardin Co Ky some 3 or 4 weeks when he was 6 or 7 years old — to a man by the name of Hazel and he got about Six months Schooling while he lived in Indiana the teachers name not now recollected.

Thomas Lincoln the Father of Abraham after his first wife died in Sept 1818 married again on _____ to one Mrs Sarah Johnston a Daughter of Christopher Bush in Hardin Co Ky he had no children by the second woman. She is supposed to be living now near Charleston Coles County Illinois —


To all of the foregoing I cheerfully subscribe as written down by Erastus Wright of Springfield Illinois

(Signed) D F Hanks

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2156 — 57; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:477 — 78



1. Erastus Wright interviewed AL's cousins, Dennis and John Hanks, at Chicago, providing an account of both interviews to Josiah Holland (Holland Papers, NYPL). The notes on Dennis supplied to WHH are more detailed, but if Wright also provided WHH with notes on his interview with John, they are not known.

2. Hanks is mistaken about AL's paternal grandfather, whose name was Abraham Lincoln, but Wright compounds the error by placing Lucy Hanks, AL's maternal grandmother, on the wrong side of the family tree.

3. Cf. §24.

4. A makeshift shelter closed on three sides but open on the front.