February 12, 1809: Peggy Walters Midwives a Baby near Hodgenville, Kentucky

“I was twenty years old, then, and helping to bring a baby into the world was more of an event to me than it became afterward. But I was married young, and had a baby of my own, and I had helped mother, who, as you know, was quite famous as a granny-woman, and I had gone several times to help when I was sent for. It was Saturday afternoon, I remember, when Tom Lincoln sent over and asked me to come, and I got up behind the boy that rode across to fetch Lincoln's Cabinme, and I rode across to the cabin that then stood here. It was a short ride, less than a mile. It was winter, but it was mild weather, and I don’t think there was any snow. If there was any then, it wasn’t much, and no snow fell that night. They sent for me quite as soon as there was any need, for when I got there nothing much was happening. They sent for her two aunts, Mis’ Betsy Sparrow and Mis’ Polly Friend, and these both came, but they lived about two miles away, so I was there before them, and we all had quite a spell to wait, and we got everything ready that we could.

They were poor folks, but so were most of their neighbors, and they didn’t lack anything they needed. Nancy had a good feather-bed under her; it wasn’t a goose-feather bed, hardly anyone had that kind then, but good hen feathers. And she had blankets enough. There was a little girl there, two years old. Her name was Sarah. She went to sleep before much of anything happened.

Well, there isn’t much that a body can tell about things of that kind. Nancy had about as hard a time as most women, I reckon, easier than some and maybe harder than a few. It all came along kind of slow, but everything was regular and all right. The baby was born just about sunup, on Sunday morning. Nancy’s two aunts took the baby and washed him and dressed him, and I looked after Nancy. That’s about all there is to tell. I remember it better than I do some cases that came later, because I was young, and hadn’t had so much experience as I had afterward. But I remember it all right well.

Oh, yes, and I remember one other thing. After the baby was born, Tom came and stood there beside the bed and looked down at Nancy, lying there, so pale and so tired, and he stood there with that sort of a hang-dog look that a man has, sort of guilty like, but mighty proud, and he says to me, ‘Are you sure she’s all right, Mis’ Walters’? And Nancy kind of stuck out her hand and reached for his, and said, ‘Yes, Tom, I am all right.’ And then she said, ‘You’re glad it’s a boy, Tom, aren’t you? So am I.’

No, there isn’t much you can tell anybody about things of that sort. But Tom Lincoln was mighty anxious about his wife, while she was suffering, and mighty good to her, too. And they were both proud and happy that it was a boy. You can’t tell much about the birth of a baby, except that you were there, and that the baby was born. But you can tell whether folks wants the baby or not, and whether they love or hate each other on account of it. I was young then, and I noticed and remembered everything. I remember it a heap better than I remember much that happened afterward. I tell you I never saw a prouder father than Tom Lincoln; and I never saw a mother more glad than Nancy was to know that her baby was a boy.

And they sort of explained to me how they named the little girl Sarah because the name Abraham didn’t fit, and Sarah was the next best. For Tom’s father, that was killed by Indians when Tom was a little boy, his name was the one they wanted the first baby to have. And so Nancy says to Tom, ‘Now we can use the name we couldn’t use before.’

And Tom says, says he, ‘Yes, Nancy, and it’s a right good name. This here baby boy,’ says he, ‘is named Abraham Lincoln.’ “

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