#130: Linked 2 Lincoln

130.1  Dear Friends: OK, so I’m a little behind the times…

130.2   To wit, last fall the movie “Lincoln” came out, with Daniel Day-Lewis’ tour-de-force in the title role. And yes, I missed it when, presumably to snag a little publicity for themselves, Ancestry.com announced that George Clooney was related to Abraham Lincoln…which I guess was their way of saying Day-Lewis wasn’t, nez pah? Now to be honest with you, I have some serious reservations about Ancestry.com’s funky “free trial period” offer…give them your credit card information and Lord knows what kind of “mistakes” can be made…better to locate a library that has the Library Edition for really free.

chart 451

130.3  But I’ve found their info to be pretty sound, so I would tend to trust this Clooney connection…I took their diagram and modified it as Chart 451…I thought it needed pictures so you’d be absolutely clear who they were talking about… 😉 😉  Now the fact that all the relations down from Mary Ann Sparrow are halfs means she was a half-sister of Lincoln’s mother…and I’ve verified that to be correct. This account employs the proper amount of genealogical specificity as far as I’m concerned, so I’m satisfied with their conclusion, half-1st cousin 5 times removed.

130.4  You should bear in mind that Clooney is not a direct descendant, but a collateral one. After all, there are documented cases of people related to George Washington, but none, zip, zero descended from him, since he and Martha had no children. In fact, assuming the information I found (below) on the internet is correct, the last surviving descendant of Lincoln died almost 30 years ago…and all together he only had 10, of any generation, marked in the yellow boxes.


130.5  All very interesting, and it was there I was ready to lay the matter to rest…when something occurred to me.  When you’re dealing with presidential pedigrees, the name Hanks is a definite red flag…it’s something that had been in the back of my mind, under a bunch of magazines, but out it popped. It’s the continuing controversy, alive and well after over 150 years, as to the precise identity and origins of Abraham Lincoln’s maternal grandparents, that is, the parents of his mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln. I can safely say, without fear of contradiction, that this is the #1 all-time genealogical puzzle…I mean, it’s ABRAHAM LINCOLN, right? Professional historians…as well as earnest amateurs, both those who believe themselves to be relatives and simply interested outsiders like me…have churned up an enormous amount of conflicting information, theories, and scenarios.

130.6  Far more than I can cover here, except to give you a introductory taste of it…if you’re looking to shut out the cares of the world, you could do worse than taking up the question of Lincoln’s family tree…more addicting even than Candy Crush! Now there is a consensus, true…but it is not universally accepted. First tho, to get us grounded, a quick look at the Lincoln side of the family, which is pretty much settled…

chart 452

130.7  Abraham Lincoln’s father Thomas had known Sarah Bush since childhood…they both married the same year, and both lost their spouses relatively soon after….Lincoln’s mother Nancy Hanks died when he was 9 years old, and his step-mother arrived on the scene a year later, along with 3 step-siblings. Lincoln was very fond of her, and said he believed he got his sense of humor from her. And BTW…looking at his namesake grandfather Abraham, how cool is having a grandmother named Bathsheba?

chart 453

130.8  On the Hanks side, things are considerable more disheveled. The prevailing opinion is what’s presented in Chart 453. Great grandfather Joseph Hanks had 9 children, and Grandma Lucy Hanks had Lincoln’s mother Nancy out of wedlock when she was still a teenager. Family lore had it that this unknown grandfather was of the gentry class, a wealthy Virginia  landowner…the family moved from Virginia to Kentucky right around this time…Lincoln was born in Kentucky, and they moved to Indiana just before his mother died. Lucy Hanks had a second illegitimate daughter, Sarah or Sally Hanks…and was ultimately criminally charged with fornication, a charge withdrawn when she married Henry Sparrow.

130.9  Lincoln himself believed his mother to be a “love child”…altho he famously said: “I don’t know who my grandfather was…I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.”  Lucy and Henry Sparrow raised 9 children, and by all accounts she was a “good Christian woman,” beloved and respected in the community. But you must understand that while many of the famous founding families were wealthy Virginians, there were many dirt poor ones as well…and these were sometimes a bit, shall we say, “lackadaisical” about officially tying the knot. They even had a way to say it: some of your kith and kin were married regular, others were not…that was life. “Fatherless” children could originate in various ways…a single liaison, a protracted love affair, or what we would call a “common law” marriage. How else could Nancy’s daughter Sally have 6, count ’em 6, in her bastard brood…the oldest of which, Sofia, lived with Abe and his parents  for a time.

groop shot

130.10  But there was certainly some stigma attached, which is why such a child often went to live with other relatives…thus, Nancy was first raised by her grandparents Joseph and “Nanny” Hanks. When Joseph died in 1793, Nanny left Kentucky to go back to Virginia…and Nancy then went to live with her mother’s sister Elizabeth, who happened to be married to Lucy’s brother-in-law Thomas Sparrow. She called them mother and father, and for a time was known as Nancy Sparrow. In fact, as a child, Lincoln knew Elizabeth as his “granny,” his mother’s mother, when she was really his mother’s aunt. Likewise, to him it was Aunt Lucy and Uncle Henry…it wasn’t until much later that he learned they were actually his grandmother and step-grandfather. Not for nothing, but another bastard, Dennis Hanks, was also raised by Elizabeth Hanks Sparrow, and in adult life he appears to have been the most vociferous in trying to establish an honorable reputation for all concerned.

130.11  At any rate, that is the way the story is told by most of the leading experts and biographers today. The opposing point of view, a minority opinion to be sure but still one with many adherents, is that Lucy Hanks was not a Hanks by birth but instead by marriage…said marriage rendering daughter Nancy legitimate after all. Thus student and teacher alike have a right to be puzzled when they read the information put forth by the National Parks Service and the Kentucky State Parks Department regarding Lincoln’s birthplace…both state unequivocally that Lucy was born Lucy Shipley, and that she was married to Nancy’s father James, a son of Joseph Hanks.

chart 454

130.12  This is the saga of the Five Shipley Sisters, as outlined in Chart 454. In 1938 Louis Warren wrote a book…mainstream mind you, published by Doubleday…called “The Lincoln Kinsmen” in which he aimed to refute the “lies” so long accepted as fact concerning Lincoln’s origins. As to this James Hanks, you will notice he does not appear on Chart 453…indeed, he is supposed to have been born around the time Lucy was, except of course by this account she wasn’t, at least not into the Hanks family, but the Shipleys. Many historians feel this version has been successfully debunked, but obviously not officially, as the tourist brochures I mentioned in 130.11 testify.

130.13  And while Chart 454 sums up the standard Lucy-Was-Married-to-Nancy’s-Father scenario…it is what you will find at Uncle Wiki for instance, altho they don’t mention sisters Ann or Margaret…it is no by means the only one…gosh, I could probably have charted out a dozen more if I had a mind to…but one will do…

chart 455

130.14  Chart 455  is the story told in the 1899 book “The Shipley Ancestry of Lincoln’s Mother,” written by Catherine Hanks Hitchcock…yes, she’s a relative, clearly with an axe to grind. And an astonishingly different version it is…only one of the 5 Shipley sisters even has the same name…that of Lucy…yet it is not Lucy Shipley who is Nancy Hanks’ mother, but her sister Nancy Shipley, who didn’t marry a son of Joseph Hanks…but Joseph Hanks himself! The other way, Joseph Hanks’ wife is one Ann Lee, also known as Nancy or Nanny. But there’s more…Elizabeth Sparrow is now a Shipley, not a Hanks…and to top it all, the oldest sister Mary Shipley is the first wife of Abe Lincoln’s grandfather Abraham, and the mother of his first 3 children, who are now Thomas’ half-siblings!

130.15  So by this account, did Thomas Lincoln marry a relative? No…the most you can say is his wife’s aunt was his father’s first wife, and mother of his half-siblings…which is to say, his half-siblings’ aunt, but not his aunt, was his mother-in-law…pretty sure that’s it. Still, if these are the crazy kind of twists and turns you relish, I heartily advice you to take up Nancy Hanks Lincoln as a hobby…and to that end…

130.16  …other clues to peruse: Nancy Hank’s parents were William Hanks and Keziah Wright….or her parents were Abraham Hanks and Sarah Harper, Abraham being James Hanks’ father’s 1st cousin…and while you’re at it, consider the possibility that Lincoln’s biological father was not Thomas Lincoln but Abraham Enlow or Enloe…and that Lincoln might have had black and Indian forebears, thru the tri-racial Melungeons…or that he was Jewish, Lucy Hanks’ mystery paramour being a Rothschild, an American offshoot line whose surname was Springs.

130.17  But if it were me, the first thing I’d check towards untangling this mess would be the possibility that at that time and place there were as any as 3 different Joseph Hanks…yes, yet another case of the name’s-the-same, the ultimate bugaboo of genealogical research. Anyway, good luck!…and watch out for eye strain…

wicked ballsy

chart 456

Another one I missed, from earlier this year, was a documentary on the National Geographic Channel based on Bill O’Reilly’s book “Killing Lincoln.” Tom Hanks was the narrator, and evidence was proffered that he too was related to Lincoln, as 3rd cousin 4 times removed…something along the lines of Chart 456.

Now you might wonder, if the “minority report” were true, that Nancy Hanks was not illegitimate…or at least the principle version of it, Chart 454…how would this effect Clooney and Tom Hanks? Barely…because they’d both remain related to Lincoln. In Clooney’s case, it would then be thru the Shipleys, not thru the Hanks, since his 4G grandmother Mary Ann Sparrow would no longer be a Hanks at all. As for Tom, he’d still be related to Lincoln thru the Hanks, only now thru Nancy’s father James Hanks and not thru her mother Lucy Shipley…get it…got it…good.


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


17 thoughts on “#130: Linked 2 Lincoln

  1. I can give you the correct family tree. Joseph Hanks was married to Ann Lee, daughter of William Lee III. They had no son named James Hanks, to marry Lucy Hanks. Lucy was served indictment papers, for Nancy being born out of wedlock. Abraham Hanks was married to Lucy Jennings, and the Sarah Harper thing, well she was Mrs. Alex Harper! That didn’t happen either. No Shipleys married Joseph Hanks, Thomas Hanks, his son, Richard Berry (his wife was Rachael Head) or Capt. Abraham Lincoln (Bathsheba Herring) Joseph and Ann Lee Hanks children were Thomas, Lucy, William, Nancy (who married Levi Hall) Mary (Polly nickname) Joseph, Elizabeth, Charles, and Joshua. Both Nancy Hanks and Lucy Hanks had a child out of wedlock, and they are Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and Dennis Hanks. Both resided with Elizabeth Hanks Sparrow, as she was the youngest, and had no children of her own. I use only documents, as a resource, and you will not find one document for the Shipley theory, or the Abraham Hanks/Sarah Harper theory. Why? Because both were created, so that the authors could be related to the President, and were written without the use of any documentation. Hope you are no longer confused!

  2. Lucy was a Shipley. Even the national park service agrees with that. I have Vicky Paulson’s book and its informative until you get the point of who Lucy Hanks is, at this point Paulson will say anything to make her point. Paulson says she has the documents but I never see them because they are not there. There is no question that miss Paulson is a distant cousin of Lincoln , like others but that does not give her the right to wright family history. The only answer to this question will be threw Shipley DNA and hopefully soon. Sincerely MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON

  3. I can’t print the documents, without the consent of the owner of the documents! Lucy was most definitely not a Shipley! And the wasn’t any James Hanks, as a son of Joseph and Ann Lee Hanks. Show ME a document that any of these Shipley marriages, or James Hanks existed! I have every right to write a book, to correct the silly, false family trees written for Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Indictment papers are not served on widows, and Lucy Hanks was served them, in Kentucky, for fornication. Instead of continuing to pass along wrong genealogy, you should look them up, yourself. The Family Tree DNA study has already proven that I have the correct Hanks genealogy, and there are no Shipleys in the Hanks family tree. You may also look that up, as well. Vicky Paulson

    • Nancy Hanks born February 5,1784. and a Grand Jury sworn November 24,1789. This is a 5 year span before Lucy Hanks is charged with fornication. It seems to me that Lucy Hanks fornication may be the result of running around with other men and not because she is a single mother of Nancy Hanks. We know the definition of fornication is having sex outside marriage. It must also be noted that James Hanks and Lucy Hanks are not mentioned in Joseph Hanks last will and testament. We know this to be a fact because we have Joseph Hanks will and it was drawn up on January 8,1793. We know that James Hanks supposedly died in 1785 making Lucy a widow with a baby named Nancy Hanks. James Hanks was not listed in his fathers will because he was already diseased and Lucy Hanks was not listed because she is not a daughter of Joseph Hanks but only a daughter in law and widow of James Hanks ,Joseph Hanks son. We only have family testimony handed down after many generations, even Dennis Hanks has said things we know not to be true. We also know that Lucy Hanks married Henry Sparrow on April 26,1790 and the fornication charges are dropped. This is part one of known information about Lucy Shipley Hanks. Sincerely MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON

      • PART 2. The National Park Service states in there summary of Nancy Hanks life that Richard Berry is an uncle of Nancy Hanks. This fits the facts that Rachael Shipley wife of Richard Berry is a sister to Lucy Shipley Hanks. Sincerely MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON

  4. PART 4. John m Hay and John George Nicolay, authors of ” ABRAHAM LINCOLN” ASSERTED that the Berry’s was a connection of Lincolns. John Berry witnessed the signature of Lucy Shipley Hanks marriage bond to Henry Sparrow. SINCERLY MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON

    • PART 5. The DNA. Well first of all no Shipley’s have yet to be tested and compared to relatives of the Sparrows and Berry’s. There is know reason to check them against a distant relative of John the rail splitter because he is not from a Shipley line descending from Lucy Shipley Hanks. If I was you I would be concerned about the fact that William Hanks JR, proven son of William Hanks and Sarah Woodbridge should not be in group 2 of the DNA chart. This seems to be an issue not yet resolved or explained. You may note that my line is off group 1 of the DNA chart. SINCERLY MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON

  5. Enumerations of 1782, of Hampshire County, Vincent Williams list, which is list 11, page 27: Joseph Hanks, wife, 5 sons, and 4 daughters. The sons are Thomas, Joshua, William, Joseph and Charles, and daughters Lucy, Nancy, Mary (Polly) and Elizabeth. You cannot add a James, and subtract a Lucy, to come up with these numbers! Richard Berry was dead 4 years before the marriage of Nancy Hanks, and Thomas Lincoln, so no guardian signed their marriage license, and she was 23, legal age to marry. The DNA of this group of Hanks HAS been tested, and we are a perfect match! Barton interviewed all the living Hanks, during his time, including Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln. ALL confirmed Lucy, Nancy Hanks Lincoln’s mother, was a HANKS. NO HANKS lived in Amelia County, in the time frame Caroline Hanks Hitchcock stated they did, zero. Hawks did. Charges of fornication are not the appropriate legal action. They would have used show cause for not bounding out the child, for lack of support. Joseph Hanks baptism is at North Farnham Parish, son of John and Catherine Hanks, and he is the executor of her estate. Anne Lee Hanks also has records, proven in estate records. Joseph mortgaged his property, in Hampshire County to Peter Putman, an the forecloser records also exist. March of 1784. Rachel Berry was Rachel Head Berry, Bathsheba Lincoln outlived her husband, so there was no second marriage. Joseph was married to Anne Lee, daughter of William Lee #3. Elizabeth Hanks was married to Thomas Sparrow. There is an abundance of records, to prove there are no Shipley’s in the family tree of Nancy Hanks Lincoln!!!!!

  6. Vicky Reany Paulson, may your family have a wonderful Christmas and new year. No one can dispute the fact that the name of a Richard Berry appears on the marriage bond and that he signed as guardian of Nancy Hanks. Kentucky laws regarding the appointment of guardians support the tradition that Berry was a relative of Nancy Hanks. The Richard Berry who married Rachel Shipley was dead by 1797 and his will names his wife Rachel and several children including a son Richard Berry JR. It was this Richard Berry who was guardian of Nancy Hanks at the time of the wedding. Christopher Challender Child of the NEW ENGLAND HISTORIC AND GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY documents the many connections of Nancy Hanks and her mother Lucy had to the Shipley family. The age of Nancy at the time of the wedding doesn’t change the fact she was under the thumb of the master of the house her UNCLE Richard Berry JR. The NATIONAL PARK SERVICE in there summery of Nancy Hanks life say that Richard Berry SR is an uncle to Nancy. SINCERLY MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON PS. you do have a nice book.

    • Vicky Reany Paulson, I was looking over ENUMERATIONS OF 1782. On the list for 1782, the only information given other than the head of household was total number in the household. I see you decided to put names with with the number 11, you also on your own decided how many males and females the family consisted of. Vicky I can put names to this number. I believe this is the correct names of the family for the number 11. Joseph hanks and Ann Lee Hanks with these children, Charles, Thomas , James , Joshua , Joseph , William , with these daughters Nancy , Mary ( Polly) , Elizabeth. These names are listed in no particular order but fit nicely with the number 11. I believe this is the correct family names and hopefully it will be proven. I believe Joseph Hanks proves this because he doesn’t include Lucy Shipley Hanks his daughter in law charged with fornication in his will. James Hanks isn’t mentioned because he is long dead and gone. SINCERLY MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON PS For full disclosure on my rebuttal paragraph above I said by mistake that Richard Berry JR was Nancy Hanks UNCLE. Richard Berry SR is the UNCLE to Nancy Hanks and is married to Rachel Shipley a sister to Lucy Shipley Hanks. MERRY CHRISTMAS

  7. You are looking at Heads of Household, not the original Enumerations, in which the heads of household are constructed from. The National Park Service is changing their Shipley reference. Look up the laws of Virginia/ as Kentucky was still part of Virginia. Fornication charges are for unwed mother, not a widow. Richard and Francis Berry owned a Furniture business, where Thomas Lincoln, Joshua Hanks, and Joseph Hanks JR. worked. Richard Berry JR. posted the Bond for the marriage, money that was required, and returned when the marriage took place. He was younger than Nancy Hanks, so how could he be her guardian? The original enumeration list of Vincent Williams, on page 27, lists Joseph Hanks, wife, 5 sons and 4 daughters. With the fire of 1812, this list of enumerations was used to reconstruct the Heads of Household, which you looked at, and does say 11 persons, only. I have records that place the 2 oldest sons, Thomas and Joshua, in Hardy County, until 1800. Joseph signed his mortgage, with Peter Putman, in March of 1784, and he is not in the 1784 census of Hampshire County, taken that October. The younger children, Elizabeth, Joseph Hanks Jr., and Charles were brought to Hardy County, when Joseph Hanks died, and Anne Lee Hanks went to Rockingham County, by her Lee relatives. Don’t you find it strange that the Shipley tree has Joseph hanks wife, as a Shipley, and a son married to a Shipley, who is his mother’s sister? And Thomas Sparrow married to a Shipley, who is also a generation younger than Joseph and Capt. Abraham Lincoln? A son would marry his Aunt Lucy? Jesse Head married Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. He is the brother of Rachel, wife of Richard Berry Senior. All these records exist, if you decide to actually do some research, and NONE of the Lincoln Historians accept the Shipley theory as true, because there are so many records that prove it incorrect. Caroline Hanks Hitchcock was just a lady that wanted to be related to both Nancy Hanks, and the Lincolns. She used no documents. I use only documents. You really need to be honest, and do some research, and find our for yourself, the truth in it.

    • I’m currently reviewing the above rebuttal by Vicky and on the first read I’ve found 99.9% totally WRONG. I will review this mess and respond accordingly. MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON

      • ATTENTION—- My DNA results are now in from Ancestry.com and threw much study I can report the following results. The first match is my placement in my 3rd great grandfathers DNA circle John Hanks from Bedford Co. PA. This confirms my relationship to the Hanks family and there decent from Thomas Hanks the Immigrant as proven by the Family Tree HANKS DNA project. I have the following DNA matches with people who share the following family names.———————————————————————————————————————————————-The family of BERRY ( as in RACHAL SHIPLEY BERRY wife of Richard Berry) I have 3 pages ( 132 matches) of DNA matches that have Berry in there family tree.——————————————————————————————————————————————————————The family of MITCHELL ( as in NAOMI SHIPLEY MITCHELL wife of Robert Mitchell ) I have 5 pages ( 225 matches ) of DNA matches that have MITCHELL in there family tree.—————————————————————————————————————————————————-The family of McCord ( as in ANN SHIPLEY MCCORD wife of Robert McCord ) I have one page ( 11 matches ) of DNA matches that have MCCORD in there family tree ———————————————————————————————————————————————————–The family of SLOAN ( as in MARGARET SHIPLEY SLOAN wife of Robert Sloan ) I have one page ( 20 matches ) of DNA matches that have SLOAN in there family tree.—————————————————————————————————————————————————————The family of SPARROW ( as in LUCY SHIPLEY HANKS SPARROW wife of Henry Sparrow and widow of a son of JOSEPH HANKS ) I have ( 11 matches ) of DNA matches that have SPARROW in there family tree.—————————————————————————————The evidence is building that threw DNA family matches LUCY HANKS is most certainly a SHIPLEY as stated by the National Park Service and most competent genealogists. Sincerely MICHAEL HANKS SHIPLEY LAYTON

  8. There is a lot of family connections between Nancy Hanks and the Shipley family. Sara Shipley Mitchell was a daughter of Naomi Shipley Mitchell wife of Robert Mitchell . Sara’s mother was killed by Indians and Sara taken captive and held for a few years before being returned to relatives. Sara spent much time with her 1st cousin Nancy Hanks and in fact named one of her daughters Nancy. Nancy Hanks Lincoln named her first child Sara Lincoln. A nephew of Sara Shipley Mitchell was named Tom Shipley Mitchell so you can see the family connections with the Shipley family. Michael Hanks Shipley Layton

  9. The Kentucky State Parks Department unequivocally stats that Lucy Hanks was a Shipley and she was married to James Hanks a son of Joseph Hanks. Michael Hanks Shipley Layton

  10. Vicky Reany Paulson I was reading in your Hanks Family Genealogy volume 1 , page 67, you gave some supporting information written by Reverend Louis A Warren. The information was good except you forgot to mention the fact that Louis A Warren has said he has seen and examined the ORIGINAL marriage record of Lucy Hanks and Henry Sparrow. Louis Warren testified he has seen the word WIDOY in front of Lucy Hanks name which he believed to mean Lucy was a widow and late wife of a Hanks. This was all reported by Christopher Challender Child of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society which can be seen on Famous Kin.com. Michael Hanks Shipley Layton

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