MRS NANCY J HART
The pioneer ladies are just as worthy of mention in the history of a community as are the husbands and fathers who reclaimed the wild lands and laid the foundations for the development and improvement of the country. Their work, though of a quieter nature, has been of a no less important character, being a needed supplement to that performed by the men. Among these worthy pioneer women who merit and enjoy the respect of all who know them is Mrs. Hart, who is now living on her homestead two miles southeast of Reserve. She was born October 2, 1827, and is the widow of Thomas Hart; whose birth occurred in Richland county, Ohio, February 24, 1826. When eleven years of age he removed with his parents to Andrew county, Missouri, where he was reared to manhood. He was a son of William and Priscilla Hart. His father was a tanner by trade and followed that pursuit in the Buckeye state, but after his removal to Missouri he carried on general farming, operating his land with the aid of slave labor. He made a specialty of the cultivation of tobacco and also raised stock on quite an extensive scale, and was a prominent farmer, widely and favorably known for his sterling worth, his integrity being above question. He died on the old homestead in Andrew county, Missouri, where his wife also passed away. They both were members of the Missionary Baptist church. In their family were ten children, as follows: Lyman, who went to California in an early day and died in that state; Harrison, a farmer; Eliza, who became Mrs. Van Buskirk; Thomas, of this review; John, an extensive farmer and fruit raiser of Missouri; Abner, who was accidentally killed in Missouri; Jackson, who was married in Missouri, but is now a resident of California; William, who died in Oregon; Mrs. Margaret A. Wells, and Benjamin, a wealthy resident of Montana.
Thomas Hart spent his boyhood days upon his father's farm in Missouri, and early became familiar with the duties and labors that fall to the lot of the agriculturist, so that he was well fitted by practical experience for his own business career. To his father he gave the benefit of his services until his marriage, which occurred in 1847. He wedded Miss Nancy J. Gillespie, a cultured and intelligent lady, who was born October 2, 1827, and belonged to an honored Kentucky family, her parents being Wilson and Mary (Gentry) Gillespie, both of whom were natives of Virginia and became pioneer settlers of Kentucky. Her father was a farmer and also conducted a hotel three miles from Richmond, Kentucky, where he died in 1837. He was the owner of a number of slaves, by whose labor the farm was cultivated. His home was noted for its generous southern hospitality and he was widely and favorably known throughout his section of the county. Both he and his wife were Presbyterians in their religious faith. His brothers and sisters were Susan; Mary; Lewis, an extensive farmer and slave owner, and Washington, who took up his abode in Illinois. Mrs. Gillespie survived her husband for some years and after marrying again removed to Missouri. Her second husband was Robert Boggs and by their union they had one child, Robert, who is now living in Kentucky. The children of William and Mary (Gentry) Gillespie were: James; Nancy J., whose name introduces this review; Elizabeth, wife of E. R. Cornelison; Thomas; Mrs. Sally A. Coffman; Henry; Jefferson, and Mary, wife of J. M. McKinney.
Mr. and Mrs. Hart began their domestic life in Missouri, where they remained until 1856, when Mr. Hart, attracted by the discovery of gold in California, made his way across the plains to the Pacific slope. While in the west he engaged in mining, but his health was poor and the following year he started home by way of the Isthmus route, landing at New Orleans, whence he made his way up the Mississippi river to his home in Missouri, where he joined his family. In 1856 he came with his wife and children to Brown county, Kansas, where he located land, pre-empting one hundred and sixty acres. This he improved, transforming the wild tract into richly cultivated fields, whose generous harvests annually augmented his capital. He was an enterprising man, an excellent financier, and though he and his wife experienced many hardships and privations in the early days they lived to enjoy all the comforts of life in later years -- comforts which came to them as the result of their united and earnest toil. In the early days their home was hospitably opened to all the wayfaring men and early settlers who were in search of homes in this new country. The first settlements were made along the creeks where there was timber, and the high prairie was all open, not a fence obstructing the progress of those who wished to ride across the country. To the east of the Hart home there was not a settler for ten miles. They had to go for mail and supplies to Iowa Point, making trips by ox-teams, and one neighbor would usually do the marketing for the entire neighborhood. Although the Indians were numerous they were friendly and in time they traveled farther westward. Mr. Hart gave his attention to general farming and to stock raising and feeding. His work was of a primitive nature in the beginning. He hauled material for a small frame house from the Missouri river and fenced his place with rails, but later planted a hedge fence. He worked hard in order to gain a start, but as the years passed by he prospered and added to his property until he became the owner of one thousand acres of land in Brown county and a half-section in Nemaha county. The old homestead he placed under a high state of cultivation and for each of his children he provided a home, and to his wife he left a good property. He was among the most extensive and prominent landowners of this locality and was a man of sterling integrity and honor, who commanded the respect of the entire community. In politics he was a Democrat, but never sought or desired political preferment.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Hart was blessed with the following named children: William, a prominent farmer of Brown county; Thomas J., a leading agriculturist and stock raiser; Mary J., wife of R. Stewart; Margaret A., who died in childhood; Jackson, who is successfully operating a farm; Harvey, also a well known and substantial farmer of Brown county; Robert, who died in childhood; Sadie E., wife of J. Davis, and Perry F., who is engaged in the livery business in Reserve and is the owner of the old homestead.
Mr. Hart was a consistent member of the Christian church, to which his widow also belongs. He was likewise a member of the Masonic fraternity, and in his life he exemplified the true Christian spirit and the benevolent principle of the craft. In business circles he enjoyed an unassailable reputation. He won success through honorable methods and was very generous with his children in giving them good homes, thus enabling them to make a start in life. For almost a half-century he and his wife traveled life's journey together, sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, its adversity and prosperity, their mutual love and confidence increasing with the passing years, but on December 13, 1895, they were separated by the hand of death, Mr. Hart passing to the home prepared for the righteous. Mrs. Hart has reached the allotted Psalmist's span of three score and ten, and now in the evening of life receives the love, veneration and respect of all who know her.