Citizenship can build ladders destined to be scaled by giants of history, and an act of citizenship can be as simple as helping a sibling with school. Eleven-year-old Sarah Lincoln took on the education of her younger brother and future president, Abraham, following the death of their mother, Nancy Hawks Lincoln, after she drank milk from a cow thought to have eaten the poisonous snakeroot plant. The passing of Nancy Hawks Lincoln in 1818 came when Abraham was a tender 9 years old and just two years after the family had moved from Kentucky to the infantile state of Indiana.
The area where the family settled, Little Pigeon Creek Community, east of Evansville and a day’s walk from the Ohio River, is now Lincoln State Park. It is where the future emancipator absorbed the integrity and values of citizenship that would serve him later as a lawmaker in the Illinois Legislature and in Congress.
Sarah’s dedication to teaching her brother to read enabled him to gain a law degree and accelerate his ascent in politics. Eventually he would abolish slavery in the United States and hold together a nation that would rise to become perhaps the greatest the world has seen.
Dying during childbirth at age 30, Sarah Lincoln Grigsby did not live to see all that her brother would contribute to the emerging nation. However, her citizenship in the form of helping family left a significant legacy.