Abraham Lincoln's stepmother, Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky and came from a flourishing family. Her father, Christopher Bush, was "…a stirring, industrious man, and had a large family of sons and daughters." In March 1806, she married Daniel Johnston. Unfortunately, Johnston did not have the same kind of industriousness that his in-laws had and he was soon deeply in debt. When he died in 1816, Sarah was left with many of these obligations still outstanding. For the next several years she did her best to support herself and her three children.
In 1819, Thomas Lincoln returned to Elizabethtown, a widower himself by this time, with hopes of finding a new wife and mother for his children. Having known Sarah before he moved to Indiana, and knowing she was a widow, he paid her a visit and asked her to marry him. Sarah replied that she could not marry him until she had paid her debts. Upon hearing this, Thomas agreed to pay the debts himself. Once that was done, he and Sarah were married on December 2, 1819. Sarah and her three children, John, Matilda, and Elizabeth returned with Thomas to Indiana, where Sarah set about making the two families into one.
She found the country to be "wild and desolate" but the log cabin that Thomas had build was "good, tolerably comfortable." She soon discovered that her new stepson was very intelligent and had a passion for knowledge; he was especially fond of reading. Consequently, her gift to him of three books left an indelible impression on him. Not only was it a priceless treasure to a boy who loved to read on a frontier where books were scarce, but it was an indication to him that Sarah would pick up where his mother had left off in terms of encouraging his quest for knowledge. The two quickly developed a close, intimate, mother-son relationship that would continue for the rest of Abraham's life.
Even as an adult, Abraham remained close to his stepmother, whom he always referred to as "Mo...