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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Kenesaw in Adams County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Susan C. Haile Gravesite

 
 
Susan C. Haile Gravesite and Marker image. Click for full size.
1. Susan C. Haile Gravesite and Marker
Inscription.  
Susan C. Haile was born December 20, 1817, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She was the youngest child of Joseph and Prudence (Bledsoe) Seawell, natives of Sumner County, Tennessee. Upon the death of Joseph in 1819, Prudence Seawell returned to Sumner County to be near relatives who would help care for her seven children. There, near the town of Gallatin, Susan Seawell grew up.

On November 17, 1836, Susan married twenty-year-old Richard C. Haile, a native of Smith County, Tennessee. In 1840 the Hailes and their first two children moved to Lafayette County, Missouri, where Richard was respectively employed in teaching school, bookkeeping, and clerking. In 1849 Haile joined the California gold rush, but returned to Missouri in 1851 for his wife and children. In the spring of 1852 the Haile family began their trip across the plains to California.

By 1852 Susan and Richard were the parents of six children: Joseph Seawell; Martha Antoinette ("Nettie"); Leaman; Sarah Jane; John William; and Susan Henrietta ("Hettie"), the baby of the family who was three years old. Relatives of Susan were also in the company, including her unmarried

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older sister, Martha, and her brother, John Seawell, with his family. John Seawell, like Richard Haile, was a returning forty-niner. Besides several wagons, they were herding 100 head of cattle.

On June 2, 1852, Susan C. Haile died of cholera while the family camped within sight of the Platte River. According to legend, though not confirmed by family papers, Richard returned to the settlements and obtained a marble headstone for his wife's grave. He probably traveled by horseback. This story may well be true and would account for the grave's survival. Indeed, the existence of such a grave marker is confirmed by William Woodhams who arrived here May 10, 1854. He wrote:

....passed many graves. One had a nice marble headstone with a woman's name on it. It stood on the top of a little sandhill, and strange enough was that sad evidence of civilization here in the wilderness, the more so as it bore a woman's name. Bad enough for man to be buried in this wild region, but a woman's place seems peculiarly in the comforts of home and friends.

The wagon train went on without Richard, with Aunt Martha Seawell taking charge of the Haile children. After marking Susan's grave, Richard could well have overtaken the slow-moving wagon train before it reached California.

Richard and the children settled in Napa County where he farmed and engaged in lumbering with

Susan C. Haile Gravesite image. Click for full size.
2. Susan C. Haile Gravesite
Susan's brother, John Seawell. In 1853 he married widowed Susan (Clayton) Sears, a native of Kentucky. They had four children together. Later the family moved to Solano County after Richard bought a 500 acre farm located a few miles north of Fairfield. He served three terms in the California legislature representing in turn Napa and Solano counties. Richard C. Haile died January 13, 1890.

Research and Funding by The Oregon-California Trails Association, 2002.
This is a part of your American heritage. Honor it, protect it, preserve it for your children.
 
Erected 2002 by Oregon-California Trails Association.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Oregon Trail series list.
 
Location. 40° 39.316′ N, 98° 42.802′ W. Marker is near Kenesaw, Nebraska, in Adams County. Marker is on West 70th Street, 0.4 miles west of Shiloh Avenue, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Kenesaw NE 68956, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Gibbon (approx. 7.7 miles away); In Honor of D. E. "Mac" McGregor (approx. 7.8 miles away); Shelton Pioneers

Tombstone, Replaced in 1933 image. Click for full size.
3. Tombstone, Replaced in 1933
Note the change in spelling: Hail vs. Haile.
(approx. 8.7 miles away); Joseph E. Johnson and the Huntsman’s Echo (approx. 8.7 miles away); Meisner Bank Building (approx. 8.7 miles away); a different marker also named Gibbon (approx. 9.4 miles away); Memorial Tree (approx. 9.4 miles away); First Buffalo County Court House (approx. 9.4 miles away).
 
Regarding Susan C. Haile Gravesite. Legend says that Richard Haile identified the grave with a temporary marker and then turned back east to get a proper marble headstone so that the grave of his wife would be forever marked. According to this story, Richard left the wagon train, placed his children under the care of their Aunt Martha Seawell, and returned to Omaha with his horses. Once there he sold the horses and used the proceeds to pay for an engraved marble headstone. Not having enough money to buy another outfit, he procured a wheelbarrow and set out on foot, pushing his wife's headstone before him. After marking Susan's grave, he joined another wagon train and proceeded to California.
 
Back of Tombstone image. Click for full size.
4. Back of Tombstone
View of Gravesite and Marker image. Click for full size.
5. View of Gravesite and Marker
The gravesite is on top of the small hill near the trees. The marker is to the right of the gravesite.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 26, 2024. It was originally submitted on September 25, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 1,043 times since then and 261 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 25, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 19, 2024