|Artist's depiction of Nancy Hanks Lincoln|
We don't know much about Nancy Hanks. She was an expert seamstress, we're told, and she had a sweet disposition -- a trait she later passed on to her son. She married Thomas Lincoln at the age of 22, and died when she was 34, leaving behind a 9 year old son (Abraham) and an 11 year old daughter (Sarah). Some think she died of tuberculosis; more say it was "milk sickness." Milk sickness was an ailment that occurred when settlers drank the milk of a cow who has eaten white snakeroot. It happened fairly often in these times, simply because settlers weren't familiar with the plant.
Young Abraham helped to build his mother's coffin. He was cared for by his older sister for about a year, until his father remarried.