Nancy Hanks Lincoln (1784-1818)

Started by Erica Howton on Sunday, October 24, 2010
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10/24/2010 at 7:29 AM

I've read rumors that Nancy Hanks Lincoln was Melungeon, part Indian, part black, and / or of illegitimate birth.

Anyone else up on her parental mysteries? Any clues? I am related to the Hankins / Hawkins family of Tennessee, which is of Quaker origin.

Private User
10/24/2010 at 7:48 AM

I know this is one of those debated topics and the answer will probably depend on who you ask but I've never looked into to figure out what the general consensus is on her parents. I added her possible parents to the US presidents project so folks can clean this up if we come to any conclusions.

Private User
10/24/2010 at 8:18 AM

I am pretty sure that she was illegitimate and the Shipley relation isn't correct, and then that opens up the issue that Abraham was also. There is a lot of very good info about that, that he was actually born a couple of years earlier than what was stated, that he is older than his sister, his sister also was illegitimate, because Thomas Lincoln was sterile. Abe's son destroyed his fathers papers after he died so no one would know the truth.
So was Enloe his father and Calhoun his grandfather?

10/24/2010 at 8:26 AM

Oh boy can of worms! Daniel, do you and Meg want to take the Lincolns, and I'll work on the Hanks with Ben Angel?

Private User
10/24/2010 at 11:44 AM

I feel pretty certain on Nancy being illegitimate as well. Her mother, Lucy, was apparently tried on fornication charges in 1791, from what I found online, and it was probably her marriage with Henry Sparrow that saved her from punishment.

In any case, this is one of those stories that screams "get me documentation"... anything without reasonably verifiable documentation should be treated as rumor. (Personally, when I create rumors, I prefer to include space aliens... but that's another story.)

I'm going to work on building the lineage from Jacob Hanks upward out of my family tree, and then try to figure out where Lucy and her three sisters might fit into that. As far as I'm concerned, there is still miles of void between Lucy and Jacob's ancestry.

In the overall hunt, probably the best next step is to determine who Lucy's parents were (you probably will never figure out who "Unknown Virginia Farmer" is... like the traveling Hoover salesman of 150 years later, he's gone... DNA testing might find him, but certainly not cyber-sleuthing).

Meanwhile, I must go hunt for groceries down the hill. That's my personal best next step...

Private User
10/24/2010 at 11:49 AM

Oh yeah... for the profiles mentioned part:

Mary Hanks

Pvt. Jacob E. Hanks

10/24/2010 at 12:08 PM


Should we make a Hanks / Hankins / Hawkins family Project? I have those Quaker Hankins, reasonably documented, I would love to connect to the Hanks ...

I think I will, why not.

10/24/2010 at 1:16 PM

The Hanks / Hankins / Hawkins Families Project is open for business:

Let me know if you want in and I'm getting started adding Profiles.

Private User
10/24/2010 at 2:17 PM

How about we list her parents as unknown for now with a curator note and disconnect her from all current sets of parents.

Private User
10/24/2010 at 3:25 PM

Hi Daniel:

I'd oppose disconnecting her from all parents. I mean, is there another source that places her mother as not Lucy? I'd definitely suggest "projectizing" Lucy (making her open to editing) and the "parent" I placed up there.

Open to hearing out the other parent options of course. I'm more interested in the real story of Nancy's ancestry than any one version (though there are some versions that sound more realistic at this stage than others).

And of course, Erica, 'Hanks for the project... :)

Private User
10/24/2010 at 5:24 PM

There were a ton of "Nancy Shipley" connections as her mother. I tried to delete all of the non-Lucy connections but ended up removing all of them. We can reconnect when we decide what the tree should look like.

Just to make things more clear, read this:

10/24/2010 at 5:31 PM

i'am just a country boy myself did not know some one pulled a sperm check on my uncle tom .take a look at jacob tom's nephew he looks more like abe than enlow,

10/24/2010 at 5:32 PM

Thanks Daniel! I'm adding you to the project as well.

Now if we just had the "project media" tab we could upload the PDF file to there ... Did you add it to the real Nancy's profile?

10/24/2010 at 5:34 PM

James Vanhoosier

LOL! Of course Abe Lincoln was not exactly classically beautiful ...

Private User
10/24/2010 at 5:52 PM

Hi Daniel:

Appreciated the article from Genealogy Today. It still seems to leave intact that Lucy was grandmother, and that grandfather was a "Virginia Farmer or Planter". The main points of contention seem to be when Nancy was born, potential siblings for Nancy in North Carolina, and attempts by Lincoln biographers to create a saccharine version of the Hanks family history for Robert Lincoln. Didn't really see where "Nancy Shipley" connects into it. But I'm still getting started in all this...

Again, my thanks for the article. Still a proponent of reconnecting Lucy and Unknown Virginia Farmer...

Private User
10/24/2010 at 5:55 PM

Erica: Actually, it looks to me like Abe's father Thomas Lincoln could be played by Harvey Keitel...

10/24/2010 at 6:16 PM

Gentle Ben

Can you find the currently lost in geni-space Virginia farmer and family and add them to the Hanks Project? Then we can decide how best to show the connection in geni and also that way we don't forget.

Private User
10/24/2010 at 6:19 PM

I think it might be Lucy Hanks, not sure where the virginia farmer is

10/24/2010 at 6:46 PM

You lost a profile? You need to get taken out back ...

10/24/2010 at 6:52 PM

OK ... crisis averted. "Debated" is a documented profile and linked as partner to Lucy Dorsey Hanks. They are now in both the President and Hanks Family projects.

10/24/2010 at 7:17 PM

I added my 3rd great grandmother to the Project and am pursuing her line now.

Nancy Howton

My connection to her parents is not 100% so this is an excuse to nail it down.

Private User
10/24/2010 at 8:37 PM

I anyone wants to help stack profiles in Ab Lincoln's family-group:

Private User
10/24/2010 at 8:40 PM

Okay, I found my "Unknown Virginia Farmer" profile... it was apparently merged with "Debated"...

Private User
10/24/2010 at 8:41 PM

Actually, that might have been me that merged that... it was a late night last night...

Hell, they are all late nights these days...

10/24/2010 at 9:01 PM


I was merging Ab Lincoln family profiles all day! It's endless I tell you endless!!!

10/24/2010 at 9:01 PM

I can see us getting a little geni crazy here ...

Private User
10/24/2010 at 9:33 PM

And the fun never ends... this looked possibly useful:

Private User
10/24/2010 at 9:39 PM

Comes to a different conclusion than I came up with... didn't have much in the way of support for the assertion for Abraham Hanks and Sarah Harper... with Abe's quote about his mother, I'd hope for at least some supporting data behind a non-Lucy selection... but the elimination exercise is useful.

Private User
10/24/2010 at 10:08 PM

Here's an interesting aside... apparently Mimi Arcala did up a tree for actor Tom Hanks, and it looks like his paternal line goes back to 1444. Didn't see any names that jumped out at me that would have been of interest though in the 1700s and 1800s.

Private User
10/24/2010 at 11:10 PM

Another interesting resource:

Really wishing that "The Hanks Family of Virginia and Westward" by Adin Baber was online...

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