Revolutionary Connections of Abner Hanks
Johnson County in what would become the state of Indiana was not an active battle site during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). No troops were mustered from among the early inhabitants of the area. When the American Revolution was fought (1775-1783), this land was part of the Northwest Territory, inhabited by Native tribes as well as British and French trappers and traders. The only Revolutionary conflict on Indiana soil was The Battle of Fort Vincennes in 1779 won by the American militia commanded by George Rogers Clark.
After the War, the quest for fertile farmland brought many white settler colonists to the Ohio River Valley. Some merely passed through on their way further west. Others stayed and made their homes here. Some of these settlers were veterans, creating ties between Johnson County and the American Revolution. Records indicate that approximately 34 soldiers that served in the Revolutionary War are buried somewhere in Johnson County. Some graves have been lost to time and others are scattered around the county in small family cemeteries. Only a dozen or so of these graves can be visited in public cemeteries.
Lickspring Cemetery holds one of the more famous graves in Johnson County. Abner Hanks was born in Richmond County, Virginia in 1763. At the age of 17 he began service as a private with the Virginia troops of the Revolutionary War. He survived the War, was married six times, and fathered at least 20 children. He took his growing family to Kentucky and then on to Indiana in 1833, settling here in Nineveh township. His last marriage occurred in Johnson County. Abner died on September 5, 1846 and was buried in this cemetery.
Abner’s father, John Hanks, is believed to be a brother to Nancy Hanks’ grandfather, Joseph, making Abner a second cousin of Nancy. Nancy Hanks was the mother of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Also of special note, it is believed that Abner Hanks and his first wife, Mary Dale are the great-great-great-great grandparents of actor Tom Hanks, making Tom a third cousin four times removed of Abraham Lincoln.
Take a few moments to soak in the serene country atmosphere of this small cemetery. Ponder what other connections might exist to the other soldiers buried here.