Horner, Henrietta Calhoun. Research Collection on Lincoln Family Ancestry, 1939-1964 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of research materials complied by Dr. Henrietta Calhoun Horner (1880-1964) on the maternal ancestry of Abraham Lincoln. Materials include manuscripts, notes, photographs, maps, and family trees.
Henrietta Calhoun, of Clarinda, Iowa, received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts at the University of Illinois. A member of Chi Omega sorority, she graduated in 1901, after which she became a science teacher in Escanaba, Michigan. She later decided to study medicine at the University of Michigan and graduated with a Doctorate in Medicine in 1917, later serving as a professor of bacteriology at the University of Iowa. She married Harlan Horner in 1928. The Horners were Lincoln scholars and donated a large collection of Lincoln-related material to the University of Illinois Library in 1951. Their collection created the Lincoln Room, which is now a part of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections.
This collection contains evolving manuscripts, drafts, and research notes on the ancestry of Abraham Lincoln and colonial Virginia, created by Henrietta Calhoun Horner. Most of her research focused on Nancy (Hanks) Lincoln and Thomas Hancks, who some researchers believe was an ancestor of Nancy Hanks.
The heritage of Nancy Hanks has been widely debated, but Horner believed she was the illegitimate daughter of Lucy Hanks. Her notes explain the difficulty of tracing the ancestry of both Lucy and Nancy Hanks, as names are repeated in their family lineage and inter-family adoption happened regularly. Horner speculated that the different spellings of Hancks/Hanks were a matter of literacy and language differences between early settlers of Virginia. Horner complied genealogical records, hand-drawn maps, and sources on the Hanks family and their neighbors.
Her work was never published, but Adin Barber thanked her in his book Nancy Hanks, of Undistinguished Families. Baber wrote, "Mrs. Harlan H. Horner of Albany, N.Y., a student of the settlement of the Hanks family in the Northern neck of Virginia, has furnished her own hand-drawn maps of the original counties and their subsequent divisions of that part of Virginia... The Horner collection has been of use to me. For this, I am grateful." For correspondence between Baber and Henrietta Calhoun Horner, see MS 1200 - Harlan Hoyt Horner and Henrietta Calhoun Horner Papers, 1865-2011.
This research collection was donated to the library by the Horners' niece, Roberta Smith, and grandniece, Pat Bove, around 2008. The items originally composed Box 3 of MS 1200 - Horner Papers. In October 2021, IHLC established these research materials as a separate collection to recognize the breadth of Henrietta Horner's work and make her research more accessible.
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