In 1818 an attack of milk sickness struck the Little Pigeon Creek community. This is a disease contracted by drinking milk from cows which have grazed on poisonous white snakeroot. Both of the Sparrows died, and Thomas Lincoln made the coffins for them. Nancy took ill also. For a week she struggled, but she knew she was failing. Dennis Hanks, Nancy's cousin, recalled that she called the children to her bedside and asked them to be good and kind to their father, to each other, and to the world. On October 5, 1818, Nancy Hanks Lincoln passed away at the age of 34. In later years, Abraham would recall helping to carve pegs for his mother's coffin. Thomas Lincoln hauled the coffin, which was made of green pine, on a sled to the top of a thickly wooded hill and buried Nancy without a formal funeral service. Several months later, the Reverend David Elkins preached a funeral sermon above Nancy's grave.