A Birthday Celebration

Several days after Nancy (Stilley) Hall of Gypsum, Saline County, Kansas celebrated her seventieth birthday on 19 June 1889, a large crowd of family members and friends gathered to honor her.1 A warm account of the affair was printed in the Gypsum Advocate:

A Birthday Social

Last Saturday evening about the time the Sun was taking its good night leave, and later on, a good many persons were seen wending their way toward the west part of the city. The residence of E. D. Hall seemed to be the objective point. After about seventy persons had gathered there, consisting of the aged, the middleaged [sic], youths and children Mrs. Nancy Hall was congratulated on having reached the alloted [sic] years of three score and ten. She is still blessed with reasonably good health and clearness of mind. Mrs. Hall came to this Valley 20 years ago when there were but few settlers in it. She was a widow with 8 children, but two of them boys, aged 9 and 15 years, viz E. D. and John Hall. She located on a quarter section 4 miles south of this city with but one or two settlers in sight. The five daughters that came with her to Kansas, now all married and in good and comfortable circumstances, to wit; Mrs. Wm. Stahl, Mrs. McCance, Mrs. Hoffman, Mrs. Gaultney, and Mrs. Geo. Miller were present and most all of their children. Mrs. H. has 8 children, 33 grandchildren and 4 Great grand children. The other portion of the assembly was composed of members of the baptist church of which Mrs. H. has long been a member, and neighbors and acquaintances. Elder Stitt made an address very appropriate to the time and occasion. Several suitabl [sic] gifts were made Mrs. Hall and presented by Mr. Amos, who alluded to the fact that they came mostly from dutiful and grateful children who knew and appreciated her best. Mrs. Hall very feelingly expressed her thanks and gratitude for the evidence and indications of respect that had been shown her. A bountiful supper was served by the daughters and grand daughters. The baptist chior [sic] furnished good music and singing. The occasion was a pleasant one and will long be remembered, as celebrating the 70th birthday of Mrs. Nancy Hall.2

Pioneer Mother Memorial (Kansas City, Kansas) by Chris Murphy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Nancy had indeed ventured from Illinois to Kansas in 1869 as a fifty-year-old widow, and in 1872, she filed for a one hundred and sixty acre homestead nestled against that of the expansive cattle ranch of author and historical figure Frank Wilkeson.3 With the help of her children, she settled into life as a Kansas pioneer at her home near Hobbs Creek, where she farmed crops including wheat, corn, and oats and looked out from her homestead upon a view of the rolling plains.4 She was likely a charter member of the First Baptist Church of Gypsum, the choir of which provided musical entertainment at her birthday celebration.5

Nancy died nine years later due to an accidental fall from a buggy.6 The Gypsum Advocate reported at that time that “Grandma Hall” was “a general favorite with young and old.”7

Copyright © 2019 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

1 “A Birthday Social,” The Gypsum (Kansas) Advocate, 28 June 1889; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 15 June 2019).
2 “A Birthday Social,” The Gypsum Advocate, 28 June 1889.
3 “Township 16 South., Range 1 West, Pliny P.O., Gypsum Creek P.O.,” in Edwards’ Atlas of Saline County, Kansas, 1884; digital image, Historic Map Works (http://www.historicmapworks.com/Atlas/US/9502 : accessed 15 June 2019).
4 Nancy Hall (Saline County) homestead file, final certificate no. 3098, Salina, Kansas, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
5 “Resolutions of Condolences,” The Gypsum (Kansas) Advocate, 28 November 1898; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 15 June 2019).
6 “A Fatal Accident,” The Gypsum (Kansas) Advocate, 29 October 1898; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 15 June 2019).
7 “Grandma Hall,” The Gypsum (Kansas) Advocate, 28 October 1898; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 15 June 2019).

4 thoughts on “A Birthday Celebration

  1. Iva Foster

    Thank you so much! I think of her as such a brave woman for having moved to Kansas after her last husband died and for buying property and farming it. She had her share of tragedies, too.


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