The Buried Years
ON SATURDAY, January 26, 1850, the Observer announced the death of Mary Lincoln's grandmother: "At her residence in this city, on Monday night last," said that newspaper, "Mrs. Elizabeth R. Parker died at an advanced age. Mrs. Parker was one of the oldest residents of our city, and was universally esteemed and beloved by all who knew her for her many excellent qualities. She was an exemplary member of the Presbyterian Church and died in the full hope of the Christian."
Mrs. Parker was in feeble health when the Lincolns were in Lexington, and the ordeal of testifying in the Wickliffe suit had heavily taxed her waning strength. She had outlived her husband fifty years, and on the previous Christmas Eve, realizing that the end was near, she had written her will, making special provisions for her slaves. "Being weak in body, but sound in mind," she said, "it is my earnest wish that my servants Prudence, Ann and Cyrus have their freedom given them," and she provided an annuity which her executor should "pay over to Prudence as long as she may live."1