The Francis Berry Home, Lincoln Homestead Park, Springfield, Kentucky
The postcard above is a Natural Color Reproduction – Curteichcolor Art Creation (Ektachrome by Brock). The card below is identified as a Natural Color Card by W. M. Cline Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee with the photographer Frank Shannon. The building is one of several at the Lincoln Homestead State Park open between May and September.
Interior of the Berry home
Nancy Hanks was born 1784 in Virginia, now West Virginia, and died at age 34 in 1818 most likely from milk sickness. Milk sickness was a condition caused by ingesting milk from cows that had eaten the poisonous white snakeroot. Many people died of milk sickness especially in the Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee area where the plant is known to grow. She also suffered from Marfan’s syndrome and some historians think she may have died as a result of that disease or from consumption as she was described as tall, thin and sickly looking suggestive of a wasting type sickness.
Not much is known about her other than she lived with her grandparents until her grandfather died when she was 9 years of age. She stayed with her mother, Lucy Hanks, and stepfather, Henry Sparrow, for a short period of time and then was adopted into the home of her mother’s sister, Elizabeth Hanks and her husband, Thomas Sparrow. She was known as Nancy Sparrow during those years.
The interior scene on the second card shows the room where it is believed that Thomas Lincoln proposed to Nancy in front of the fireplace. They were married here in 1806. She and Thomas Lincoln had three children: Sarah (1807-1828), Abraham (1809-1865), and Thomas Jr. (1812, died in infancy). The family lived in what was then Hardin County, Kentucky until 1811, moving to the Knob Creek Farm, and in 1816 they went to Spencer County in southern Indiana to homestead at Little Pigeon Creek Settlement. Nancy’s aunt and uncle, the Sparrows, with whom she had lived as a girl also moved to Little Pigeon Creek.
Abraham helped his father to make his mother’s coffin by whittling wooden pegs that held the planks together. He was 9 years old his sister, Sarah, was 11 when their mother died. Thomas Lincoln remarried the next year to a widow, Sarah Bush Johnston, who had three children. Thomas had also taken in the Hanks children left orphaned after Elizabeth and Thomas Sparrow died about the same time that Nancy passed away. This doubled the size of the family and caused some financial hardship.
Nancy is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery (also called the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Cemetery) on the grounds of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial near what is today Lincoln City, Indiana. The memorial is a National Historic Landmark.
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