Shaw – Gale – Noxon Families [RG4477.AM]


RG4477.AM:  Shaw-Gale-Noxon Families

Papers:  1845-1896

Gage, Clay, and Seward Counties, Nebraska:  Homesteaders

Size:  2.25 cu.ft.; 3 boxes


Stephen P. Shaw was born in July 1801, and his wife, Hannah (Hicks) Shaw, was born in February of the same year.  They were married on 19 October 1822 in LaGrange, New York, and together they had ten children.  They left their farm in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, in 1857 and came by ox-team to Nebraska.  It was their third move since their marriage.  In 1844 they had moved to Litchfield County, Connecticut, then to the Kenosha County farm in 1850.  They were accompanied, or soon followed, in their Nebraska migration by the families of William and Rebecca (Shaw) Silvernail, George and Margaret (Shaw) Gale, and John and Almira (Shaw) Lyons.  Only one other family had settled in the Nemaha Valley at the time of their arrival, and the Shaws became prominent residents of what later became Gage County, Nebraska.  Both Stephen and Hannah died in Gage County; he in 1863 and she in 1886.  Margaret A. (Shaw) Gale, their third child, (born in 1827) remained in close proximity to her parents throughout her adult life, even after her marriage to George Gale in 1850.  The Gales were well established in Nebraska by 1860 and bought land in the settlement of Laona, Gage County.  George Gale died in Adams, Nebraska, in 1899.*  Most of Hannah Hicks Shaw’s adult children continued to correspond with their mother at her home in the Nebraska Territory.  They also corresponded with their sister, Margaret Shaw Gale.

Almira (Shaw) Lyons, born in 1832, was the sixth child of Stephen and Hannah Shaw.  She married John Lyons in 1849, came to Nebraska with her parents in 1857, and in 1859 moved to the Nebraska City area.  In 1865, Almira and John returned to the Nemaha Valley area, where he served as Justice of the Peace.*

Hannah (Shaw) Noxon, the seventh child of Stephen and Hannah Shaw, was born in New York in 1834.  On March 15, 1860 she married George Noxon, who had accepted an invitation from George Gale to move to Nebraska.  The couple had two children, Stephen Shaw Noxon (1866-1953) and Georgia (Noxon) Ripley (1870-1907).  George and Hannah settled along the Nemaha River near Adams, Nebraska in 1860, and engaged in farming.  In 1864 they tried the Colorado silver mines, but returned in 1866 to Nebraska where George died on September 21, 1870.  After her husband’s death Hannah began a small mercantile business and was appointed as post-mistress in Laona.  Sometime later she also received the post-mistress position in Adams, which she held for many years (see Subgroup 4).

Rebecca (Shaw) Silvernail, the eighth child of Stephen and Hannah Shaw, was born in 1836, and married William W. Silvernail in 1856.  They accompanied the Shaw family to the Nemaha Valley in 1860, but sold out in 1862 and returned to Illinois, where they remained until 1866 when they returned to Gage County.*

James I. Shaw, born in 1838, was the ninth child of Stephen and Hannah Shaw.  In 1861 he enlisted in Co. H., First Nebraska Regiment, rising to the rank of Orderly Sergeant after the Battle of Shiloh.  He re-enlisted in 1864 and fought in the Indian Wars until 1866 when he was discharged with the rank of Master Sergeant.  In 1867 he was married to Virginia Stewart in Omaha, and two years later they moved to Adams.  James held several civil offices before eventually moving to Florida.*  Another son, William Shaw, also served in the Civil War, but he died in an accident in St. Louis in 1864.

Stephen and Hannah Shaw’s second child, Egbert Shaw, died in Adams Township, Nebraska, in 1895.  Emily (Shaw) Silvernail, the fourth child, married James Silvernail in 1849 and wrote to her sister, Margaret (Shaw) Gale, frequently between 1863 and 1864.  John B. Shaw, the fifth child, married Sarah H. Vosburg in 1854.  Stephen B. Shaw, the youngest child of Stephen and Hannah Shaw, was born in 1844, and left his Nebraska home in 1864 for the Colorado silver mines.  He returned after about a year, and in 1866 was married to Minerva Hand of near Nebraska City.  Stephen had been a freighter from 1862 to 1864, but farmed after his return to Nebraska.

Other correspondents in this collection include Alfred Gale, and Amelia Matilda Wooley Gale Ross.  Alfred Gale, presumably George Gale’s brother, was born in 1834 in New York and moved to Nebraska from Kenosha County, Wisconsin in 1856.  He farmed and trapped in Otoe, Clay and Gage counties until 1880, when he moved to Lincoln and opened a grocery store.  Amelia Wooley married Robert T. Gale, the first Seward County homesteader, in 1861.  Robert died during what must have been an epidemic in 1868, and later that year Amelia married Stephen C. Ross, one of the people who had helped nurse the sick and who had rented space in the couple’s home when Robert was alive.  Amelia’s letters to her sister-in-law, Margaret (Shaw) Gale, discuss her infant girl Clara, and interactions with the Pawnees of Nebraska.

*For additional information about the families, see Portrait and Biographical Album of Gage County, Chapman Bros., 1888; and the History of Seward County, Cox, 1905.


This collection relates to the lives, activities, and interactions of various members, by birth and by marriage, of the Shaw, Gale, Noxon and related Families.  It is arranged in ten Subgroups: 1) Genealogies and Family Histories; 2) Shaw Family Papers; 3) Gale Family Papers; 4) Noxon Family Papers; 5) Lyons Family Papers; 6) Silvernail Family Papers; 7) Compton Family Correspondence; 8) Hicks Family Correspondence; 9) Other Correspondents; and 10) Miscellany.

Subgroup 1 is comprised of family histories, genealogies, and a list of correspondents for the collection.

Subgroup 2 contains the Shaw Family Papers, the Letters of Hannah Hicks Shaw 1850-1857, John Benjamin Shaw 1850-1858, and James I. Shaw, 1852-1876.  The letters of James I. Shaw, dating between 1866-1876, include information that he recorded while serving on the plains in the 1st Nebraska Infantry.  The contents of the Shaw Family letters are illustrative of the outlook of the immigrants who settled in the Western United States during the mid-nineteenth century, and of the problems with which they had to contend.  The collection is primarily a compilation of Hannah Hicks Shaw’s letters to and from her adult children and the married siblings’ correspondence with one another.

Subgroup 3, the Gale Family Papers.

Series 1 contains a letter from Margaret Shaw Gale, 1845.  There are few letters in the record group from Margaret Shaw Gale, who was more usually the recipient and collector of over half of the correspondence in this collection.

Series 2, George Gale papers, 1870-1882.  George was a pioneer farm implement dealer in Gage County, and his letters relate primarily to business matters.

Series 3 contains letters of Amelia Wooley Gale Ross, wife of Robert Gale and later Stephen Ross.  The letters, 1864-1868, provide useful information about the lives of the second family of settlers in Seward County.  Amelia made butter that she sold along with chickens in town.  In 1868, a homeopathic doctor’s remedies could not cure Robert’s consumption and he died.  Amelia married Mr. Ross the next year.

Series 4 consists of Alfred Gale’s letters, 1854-1896, to his brother, George Gale, and George’s wife, Margaret.  Writing from Somers, Wisconsin, Alfred describes his reaction to an anti-slavery meeting in May of 1854.

Series 5 contains letters, 1861-1863, to Phebe Gale, from John Reed [a suitor?] and Lottie (surname unknown).  Phebe Gale died in 1864.

Subgroup 4, the Noxon Family Papers.  These materials were previously separated from the rest of the Shaw Family collection and given a different number, RG3521.AM.  They have been recombined.

Series 1 contains the papers of Hannah (Shaw) Noxon.  Hannah’s letters to her mother and siblings form the largest single series within this collection.  The letters, dated 1850-1865, trace the path of the family in Wisconsin and Nebraska.  Also included are miscellaneous letters to Hannah and George Noxon, Adams Post Office and General Store materials, clippings, and Hannah’s own pocket New Testament.  Also of interest is part of an unsigned journal of a wagon trip to Nebraska, probably by Hannah, who joined her fiancé, George Noxon, in surveying land for a homestead at the invitation of her sister Margaret and brother-in-law George in 1860.

Series 2, Noxon Family Papers, includes Vincent Noxon’s Bible with Noxon genealogy notes, and George Noxon’s papers (primarily business accounts).

Subgroup 5, the Lyons Family Materials.

Series 1 consists of the papers of Almira (Shaw) Lyons including a few letters to her “sister and brother,” 1851-1858, and her 1863 & 1869 diary.  Almira describes life on the Plains from the perspective of a young mother and farm wife.  The diary, or “Pocket Rememberencer,” contains notes on Nebraska’s seasons and climate as well as short entries about such daily activities and events as visitors to the homestead, interactions with Native American families, marriages, and an epidemic in 1863 that caused numerous child deaths.

Series 2 contains John Lyons “Pocket Rememberencer,” 1850-[1857?], which is essentially an account book, but includes his brief notes about the trip from Kenosha County, Wisconsin, to Nebraska.  Also included are miscellaneous papers and a Grange certificate.

Subgroup 6, Silvernail Family Papers, 1850-c.1885, is comprised of the letters of sisters Emily Shaw Silvernail and Rebecca J. Shaw Silvernail who apparently married brothers.  Rebecca’s letters share marital disputes with her husband, and may interest some feminists since Rebecca threatens in one letter that if William’s behavior doesn’t improve she will “get another man.”  Also present is an autograph book, probably belonging to Ella Silvernail, with a message from her grandmother, Hannah Hicks Shaw.

Subgroup 7 contains the Compton Family Correspondence to Margaret (Shaw) Gale.  The early letters, 1850-1876, are from Rebecca (Hicks) Compton, Margaret’s aunt.  William Compton continued to write Margaret during the 1880s while his wife Rebecca suffered a prolonged illness and death.  William’s letters are primarily about religious matters.

Subgroup 8, the Hicks Family Correspondence, consists of the letters of Anne Hicks, William Hicks, Charles W. Hicks, Mary Hicks, and young Lizzie Hicks to their niece/cousin Margaret Shaw Gale and her husband George Gale in the Nebraska Territory.

Subgroup 9 contains correspondence from distant family members:  Marianne Wooley to Amelia (Wooley) Gale Ross and to Margaret (Shaw) Gale 1864-1867; and to Margaret from her niece Martha Haymar.  Also filed in this series are several unidentified letters, c 1869-1870s.

Subgroup 10 contains a court decision involving Dempster Mill Manufacturing, 1901.


Letters of Hannah Hicks Shaw to Margaret, 1850-1865

Letters of John Benjamin Shaw, to Sister Margaret Shaw Gale and brother-in-law George Gale, 1850-1853

Letters of James I. Shaw, to Mother Hannah Shaw, Margaret Shaw Gale, and Niece Molly, and Hannah Shaw Noxon, 1852-1876

Letters of Margaret Shaw Gale to brother Egbert Shaw, 1945

Letters of George Gale to wife Margaret, 1851-1895 *

Letters of Amelia Gale Ross to sister-in-law Margaret Shaw Gale and to “niece”, 1864-1896 and Ned.

Letters of Alfred Gale to brother George Gale and family, 1854-1855

Letters to Phebe Gale from:

Lottie [surname unknown] to Phebe Gale, 1861-1868

John Reed to Phebe Gale, 1861-1863

Letters of William Henry Gale to brother George and wife, 1851

Letters of Hannah Shaw Noxon to sister Margaret Shaw Gale, and to fiancé George Noxon, 1850-1865

Letters of Almira Lyons, 1851-1858 and Ned.

Letters of Emily Silvernail to sister Margaret Shaw Gale, 1863-1864

Letters of Rebecca Silvernail to sister Margaret Shaw Gale and family, 1858-1865

Letters of Rebecca Hicks Compton to Margaret Shaw Gale, 1850-1881

Letters of William Compton to sister Hannah Hicks Shaw, and Margaret Shaw Gale, 1882-1896

Letters of Ann Hicks to niece Margaret Shaw Gale, 1858-1861

Letters of William Hicks to Margaret Shaw Gale, 1861

Letters of Charles Hicks to cousin Margaret Shaw Gale, 1851

Letters of Mary Hicks to Margaret Shaw Gale, 1850

Letters of Marianne Wooley to Almira Shaw Lyons, to Amelia Wooley Gale Ross, to Margaret Shaw Gale, 1864-1866

Letters of Martha M. Haymar to Margaret Shaw Gale, 1882

Letters to George Noxon and Hannah Noxon 1858-1916:

From Isaac J. Noxon, Phoebe Waltz, Abeam S. Winton, Lucinda Harry, E.H. Noxon [postmaster Bee, Neb.] and NA Shaw

Miscellaneous correspondence including letter fragments, index of correspondence, and unrelated letters having to do with sale of Indian lands to the Union Pacific railroad in Kansas in 1869-1870


Letters of Hannah Shaw Noxon with mother Hannah Hicks Shaw, 1851, 1857, 1858

Letters of Hannah Hicks Shaw with son John B. Shaw, 1850

Letters of Rebecca J. Shaw Silvernail with mother Hannah Hicks Shaw, 1850

Letters of James Shaw with mother Hannah Hicks Shaw, 1852

Letters of Anne Hicks with William Hicks, 1850, 1861

Letters Martha M. Haymar with Lizzie Hicks


Subgroup 1: Genealogies and family history

Box 1


    1. Genealogies and History

    1. List of Correspondents

Subgroup 2: Shaw family papers, 1850-1876

    1. Hannah Hicks Shaw Letters, 1850-1857

    1. John Benjamin Shaw Letters, 1850-1858

    1. James I. Shaw Letters, 1852-1876

Subgroup 3: Gale family papers, 1870-1882

Series 1 – Margaret Shaw Gale correspondence, 1845

    1. Margaret Shaw Gale correspondence, 1845 [fragile]

Series 2 – George Gale papers, 1862-1895

    1. Business Correspondence, 1862-1882.  Includes a petition to the county for the laying of a road, 1873

    1. Miscellaneous Business Papers, primarily receipts, 1870-1895

Series 3 – Amelia Wooley Gale Ross letters, 1864-1896

    1. Amelia Wooley Gale Ross Letters,1864-1896

Series 4 – Alfred Gale letters, 1854-1855

    1. Alfred Gale Letters, 1854-1855

Series 5 – Letters to Phebe Gale

    1. From Lottie, 1861-1863

    1. From John Reed, 1861-1863

Series 6 – Correspondence of William Henry Gale, 1851

    1. Correspondence of William Henry Gale, 1851

Subgroup 4: Noxon Family papers

Series 1 – Hannah Shaw Noxon papers, 1850-1865

    1. Family Correspondence, primarily Hannah Shaw Noxon’s letters

    1. Journal excerpts, probably written by Hannah during a journey with sister Margaret Shaw Gale, brother-in-law George Gale, and her fiancé George Noxon, in search of a piece of land to homestead [1860?]

    1. Miscellaneous letters to Hannah and George Noxon

    1. Business Papers from Hannah and George’s General Store and Post Office at Adams, Nebraska [note:  includes a list of most homesteading families in the area]

    1. Adams Store ledgers, 1871-1889 (see box 3)

    1. Obituaries

    1. Newspaper Clippings & miscellany

    1. Pocket New Testament [note:  contains a lock of red hair]

Box 3 – Ledgers, from the Adams General Store (4 volumes)

Series 2 – Noxon Family papers

Box 1

    1. Genealogy entries from the Noxon Family Bible [photocopies]

    1. George Noxon account book

    1. Noxon Family Bible, with Vincent R. Noxon signature on the flyleaf (see oversize)

Subgroup 5: Lyons Family papers

Series 1 – Almira Shaw Lyons papers, 1851-1858, 1863

    1. Almira Shaw Lyons, letters, 1851-1858

    1. Almira Shaw Lyons, diary, 1863

    1. Patrons of Husbandry certificate, 1878 (see OB124)

Series 2 – John Lyons papers, 1850-1892

Box 2


    1. Diary, 1850-[1857?], includes accounting entries

    1. Miscellaneous business papers and advertisements

    1. Patrons of Husbandry certificate, 1878 (See OB124)

Subgroup 6: Silvernail Family papers, 1863-c.1885

    1. Emily Shaw Silvernail Letters, 1863-1864

    1. Rebecca J. Shaw Silvernail Letters, 1850-1865

    1. Ella Silvernail autograph book with message from her grandmother, Hannah (Hicks) Shaw, c.1885

Subgroup 7: Compton Family correspondence

    1. Rebecca (Hicks) Compton Letters, 1850-1876

    1. William Compton Letters, 1882-1896

Subgroup 8: Hicks Family correspondence

    1. Anne Hicks Letters, 1850-1861

    1. William [Willet] Hicks Letters, 1861 (William often wrote joint letters with Anne Hicks)

    1. Charles W. Hicks Letters, 1851

    1. Mary Hicks Letters, 1850-1852

    1. Lizzie Hicks, 1879

Subgroup 9: Other Correspondents

    1. Marianne Wooley Letters, 1864-1867

    1. Martha M. Haymar Letters, 1882 (mostly to her aunt Margaret Shaw Gale)

    1. Unidentified letters

Subgroup 10: Miscellany

    1. Court decision, Dempster Mill Manufacturing vs. Amos L. Wright, 1901


Subject headings:

Adams (Nebraska) — History

Clay County (Nebraska) — History

Compton family

Frontier and pioneer life — Nebraska

Gage County (Nebraska) — History

Gale family

Hicks family

Homesteading — Nebraska

Lyons family

Noxon family

Seward County (Nebraska) — History

Shaw family

Silvernail family


DAB/HEK/ab       01-11-1967

JEP/cr                 06-09-1970

TJ/kfk                  09-19-2002

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