Our Historical Markers across Nebraska highlight fascinating moments and places in our state’s past. Today we focus on the story behind the unusually masterful gravestone of Susan O. Hail, one of the hundreds of people that died migrating westward in the 1850s.
7000-7938 N Denman Ave, Kenesaw, Adams County, Nebraska
To overland emigrants, the rigors of the trail began with the “Coast of Nebraska,” the ridge of sandhills separating the Platte Valley from the open prairie behind it. Thousands of emigrants passed this way during the peak emigration years of the 1850s. Hundreds died of disease, principally of Asiatic cholera. It is believed that a grave near here is of one such victim. Of all those who died, only a few graves are known. On August 3, 1859, a surveyor noted the grave and its marker: Memory of Susan O. Hail of Lafayette County, Missouri Who died June 2, 1852 Age 34 Yrs. 5 months 12 days. That marker, since destroyed, was of polished workmanship, unlike most trail gravestones. It is said her husband returned to Missouri, had the stone made, and brought it to this spot on the prairie. The people of the area have cared for the grave, and the land was purchased in 1958 and presented to Adams County by the Federated Women’s Club of Kenesaw and the Adams County Historical Society.