Troy Cowan Topic: Abraham Lincoln shoots his father

Abraham Lincoln shoots his father

When Abraham Lincoln was nine-years-old he shot his father.

Some believe that Lincoln believed in animal rights and that is the reason he gave up hunting and fishing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Thomas Lincoln beats his wife

Late summer 1817, Thomas and Elizabeth Sparrow moved to Pigeon Creek. They brought with them the two children they were raising, eighteen-year-old Dennis Hanks and eight-year-old Sophie Hanks. Thomas and Elizabeth also raised Nancy Hanks, and Nancy was now married to Thomas Lincoln. The Sparrows wanted to be close to the Lincolns and began building their cabin next to the cabin the Lincolns had just finished. While the Sparrow built their cabin, the Lincoln allowed the Sparrows to move into the lean-to they just moved out of.

After the Sparrows moved to Pigeon Creek, Nancy bought six cows to provide milk for the two families. On the day Nancy, Abraham, and Dennis were bringing the cows home, Thomas was in the woods next to the cabin getting drunk. As they approached the cabin, the two boys noticed Nancy looked tired and told her to go to the cabin while they took care of the cows.

Thomas had no idea where the three were until he saw them herding the six cows home. He became very upset. When Nancy passed a few yards from where Thomas was hiding, he jumped up and grabbed her. He forced her arms behind her and began kicking the back of her legs.

Thomas threw Nancy to the ground. He pulled off a green branch from a tree, stripped the leaves off and was using it as a whip to hit her. Nancy covered her face with her hands as he was flogging her. 

He was yelling at the top of his voice, “I know you are sleeping with some rich man and don't tell me you ain't. I know you are sleeping with someone because you never let me touch you, and I know you like to sleep with a man. Now you better tell me the man's name your whoring with before I beats you to death.”

Thomas kept on hitting Nancy with the branch as he yelled, “Ain't two bastards enough for you? You is a no good hussy. I wants to know who is a paying you to sleep with him.”

Abraham heard his mother's screams. He grabbed his rifle and ran to her. Abraham pointed his rifle at Thomas and yelled: “Stop!” Thomas turned and looked. He became enraged when he saw a boy pointing a gun at him. He ran toward Abraham saying, “I'm going to kill you.” Frightened, Abraham backed up. He tripped and the gun went off--hitting Thomas in the shoulder. Thomas grabbed his shoulder and when he saw blood he began moaning, “You finally did it, you've killed me.” Thomas Sparrow and Dennis came running and took the drunken sot into the cabin.

Abraham was horrified that he had killed a man. Nancy put her arms around the distraught boy, comforting him. Abraham sobbed, “I know you're not supposed to kill someone, I'm scarred.”

Then Dennis came out of the cabin and said, “I feel like bawling too, because he ain't dead. Why didn't you do a good job of it?” Thomas injury was minor. He would live. Abraham then made a promise to his mother that he was never going to shoot another living thing”.


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 Troy Cowan, author of Lincoln, Davis, and Booth: Family secrets

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