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the Lincoln-Hanks wedding
Watch the Video:
Program 1307 (30 minutes)
Program 1326 (60 minutes)
(Windows Media® or
RealPlayer® format)
Season 13 Menu

Washington County

For more information:

Lincoln Homestead State Park, 5079 Lincoln Park Rd., Springfield, KY 40069-9504, (859) 336-7461
Kentucky Historical Society, 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 564-1792

Producer: Joy Flynn, Brandon Wickey, Carolyn Gwinn

Special Thanks: Funding for this special edition of Kentucky Life was provided in part by the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Kentucky Historical Society.

Note: Program 1307 is 30 minutes long. Kentucky Life Program 1326 is an expanded, hour-long edition of the wedding reenactment with additional footage of the play and more interviews.

Tom and Nancy

reenacting the wedding of Abraham Lincoln’s parents

In June 1806, Thomas Lincoln of Elizabethtown married a young woman named Nancy Hanks. He was a carpenter, she a skilled seamstress who lived with an aunt and uncle or sometimes with one of the families she was doing sewing work for. After the wedding, the couple lived in Tom’s cabin in Elizabethtown for a time, then moved to a farm outside Hodgenville. There, on February 12, 1809, Nancy gave birth to their first son. They named him Abraham for Tom’s father.

Young Abe, of course, grew up to be America’s 16th president and one of history’s most revered leaders. 200 years later, a reenactment of the Lincoln-Hanks wedding kicked off a three-year bicentennial celebration of the birth of Tom and Nancy’s boy. This special edition of Kentucky Life attends the wedding celebration to learn more about Lincoln’s parents as well as the plans for the bicentennial.

The June 2006 reenactment was held at Lincoln Homestead State Park in Springfield, which preserves a farm the family moved to when Abe was a toddler. The centerpiece of the day was a performance of the play Dearly Beloved: The Vows of a Lincoln Legacy, written by Greg Hardison of the Kentucky Historical Society and staged as part of the society’s Museum Theatre project. Hardison has described the play as an attempt to explore the influence of Lincoln’s parents on his character and strength of spirit. The Lincolns’ story, he says, “provides us all with the inspiration that great things can come from simple beginnings.”

In researching his play, Hardison also retraced some steps that Lincoln himself once took. Accused by political enemies of being illegitimate, Lincoln searched in vain for proof that his parents were married. It was only after his assassination that official documents came to light in Springfield. Dearly Beloved is based in part on affidavits of witnesses to the wedding.

The play also uses Lincoln’s own words about his parents. They include an excerpt from a speech he gave upon leaving a different Springfield—in Illinois—to assume the presidency.

To place the play and the wedding in context, the reenactment celebration also included scenes of actors playing historical figures such as George Washington and the slave York, who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, or performing the tasks of daily life in early 19th-century Kentucky.

Dearly Beloved: The Vows of a Lincoln Legacy

PlaywrightGreg Hardison
DirectorPatti Heying
Casting and Production AssistantElaine Simms
Historical Dance InstructorsDon and Sylvia Coffey (See Kentucky Life Program 618.)
ViolinChris Propes
Historical AdvisersRon Bryant, Kentucky State Parks historian, and Carroll Kelly, Washington County Historical Society
Special Thanks and Acknowledgments Nell Haydon, Springfield Opera House; Kathy Taylor, Springfield Chamber of Commerce; Mary Powell, Lexington Stage Costumes; Sarah Elliot and Nicole Cox, Liberty Hall Historic Site, Frankfort; Bobby Bartholomai, Lincoln Homestead Historic Park; Kim Lady Smith, Warren Greer, Stuart Sanders, and Julienne Foster, Kentucky Historical Society; John Downs and Cynthia Howard-Cottingim, Kentucky Parks Department
Cast (in order of appearance)
   Kevin LanhamAbraham Lincoln (presidential nominee)
   Benji GaonaThomas “Tad” Lincoln (son)
   Tim NolanRichard Berry Jr. (Nancy’s guardian)
   Holly RichardsonPolly Berry (Richard’s wife)
   Steve WhartonFrancis Berry (Richard’s brother)
   Susan WhartonElizabeth Berry (Francis’ wife)
   David PudloRev. Jesse Head
   Jennifer DeanSarah Shipley Mitchell Thompson (Nancy’s cousin)
   Stephanie KreyNancy Hanks
   Nancy HarmonBersheba Lincoln (widowed mother of Thomas)
   Don CoffeyJosiah Lincoln (brother of Thomas)
   Sylvia CoffeyCatherine Barlow Lincoln (Josiah’s wife)
   Leslie Anne DownsMary Crume (sister of Thomas)
   Sandra GoatleyAnn Brumfield (sister of Thomas)
   Jerry EffnerMordecai Lincoln (brother of Thomas)
   Lucinda EffnerMary Mudd Lincoln (Mordecai’s wife)
   Scott FattizzaThomas Lincoln
   Fran CarricoMary Gregory Litsey (dressmaker)
   Elaine SimmsLucy Hanks Sparrow (mother of the bride)
   Hugh Lee GrundyFelix Grundy
Berry family slaves:
   Elizabeth Ann DotyHannah
   Nicole DotyFill (historically a boy)
   Shannon DotyNan
   Mackenzie DeanPolly Brumfield (Ann Brumfield’s Daughter)
   Olivia GoatleyNancy Thompson (Sarah’s youngest daughter)
   Hannah HarmonSarah Crume (Mary Crume’s daughter)
   Tommy HarmonSamuel Berry (Richard’s son)
   Catherine MarinanNaomi Thompson (Sarah’s daughter)
   Morgan WelchElizabeth Berry (Richard’s daughter)
   Alexandra WhartonMary Berry (Francis’ daughter)
   Kelli WhartonMary Berry (Richard’s daughter)
   Madeline WhartonNancy Berry (Richard’s daughter)

More Lincoln

Kentucky Life followed the Lincoln Trail through Kentucky for the special expanded “road show” Lincoln: ‘I, too, am a Kentuckian.’ We previously visited Lincoln Homestead State Park in Program 617 and Program 1118 to chronicle the volunteer effort to purchase and preserve the farm.

SEASON 13 PROGRAMS: 1301130213031304130513061307/1326: The Lincoln Wedding130813091310

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