Harriet Hanks, Lincoln’s Cousin-Niece

Presidential History Blog

It’s a complicated family line.

The Lincoln-Hanks Kinship

Abraham Lincoln, as everyone knows, was the son of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks.

A photograph of Thomas Lincoln, coupled with an “imagined” picture of Nancy Hanks Lincoln.

Nancy Hanks, Abe’s mother, had an aunt, also named Nancy Hanks, who had an illegitimate son named Dennis, born in 1799, about seven years before Tom Lincoln and Nancy Hanks married. At an early age, Dennis (whose mother presumably died) went to live with Elizabeth and Thomas Sparrow, aunt and uncle to the Aunt Nancy Hanks. His great-aunt and -uncle.

When Abe was around six, the Lincolns decided to move to Indiana. The Sparrows joined them, and took Dennis. Within three years, Nancy Hanks Lincoln died. So did Elizabeth and Thomas Sparrow. Dennis Hanks moved in with Tom Lincoln and his two young children, Abe, now nine, and Sarah, two years older.

The only…

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