Sarah Lincoln Grigsby, sister of Abraham Lincoln, would never know her younger brother's success and fame, nor how he would be remembered. As a result of her brother's fame, her own life has become part of our national heritage.
She was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on February 10, 1807. With her younger brother, she attended a basic ABC school taught by Zachariah Riney and later Caleb Hazel. From her mother she learned the arts of spinning, soap making, and cooking over an open fire. Most significant of all, she and her brother listened to stories told by travelers on the Louisville - Nashville road that ran directly in front of the Lincoln cabin. Sarah had the benefit of at least some schooling when many pioneer children learned only the tasks for farming or housekeeping.
When Thomas Lincoln moved his family to Indiana in 1816, Sarah's responsibilities increased. She worked hard to help her mother establish a home on this new frontier. But the autumn frosts of 1818 had already colored the foliage of the huge trees of oak, hickory, maple and walnut when her mother Nancy became desperately ill. Her mother was stricken with milk sickness; a poisoning caused by the plant white snakeroot. Cows ate this abundant weed and passed the poison on in their milk. On October 5, 1818, Nancy died. Death in a one-room cabin in the wilderness was a grim experience for the survivors. Sarah helped the neighbor women prepare, dress, and place her mother's body into the casket. Her mother was then taken to her final resting-place overlooking the Indiana farm she so dearly loved.
Her mother had been kind to Sarah. She had raised her in an environment of love, trust, and understanding. As Sarah matured, she built her life upon this solid foundation.
It was a difficult time for Sarah. She had to take over all the household chores. Her mother's death left Sarah with the formidable task of caring for the house, her father, her brother, and an orphaned 18-year old cousin, D...