Happy Birthday, Nellie!

This photo was taken in 1897 when Nellie Gail was nineteen years old. The dedication on the back of this picture states, “To Nellie, Xmas 1897 from Pa & Ma.” (Courtesy of  Lewis and Christyn Mathis, 2019.11.01.03.a)

Nellie Gail Moulton was born on December 8, 1878 in Irving, Kansas to John Lockwood Gail (1848–1926) and Prudence Adelia Stoneman Gail (1853–1894). Nellie Maud Gail was born and grew up in Kansas. “She appeared in the 1880 census with her family in Marshall County, in the northeastern part of the state. Her parents, natives of Illinois, may have relocated to Nebraska at some point in time as that state is sometimes cited as her birthplace.”

According to her memoir, in 1893, the Gail family traveled to Chicago for the World’s Fair. At the time they resided in Hebron, Nebraska. Nellie stated, “One section mother and I were naturally and irresistibly drawn to were the galleries. It was a particular thrill for me, for with schools taking part, one of my own ‘works’ was displayed at the children’s center.” Her lifetime passion and  commitment to the arts were developed from early artistic training.

Nellie was an educator and principal. In 1902, Nellie attended at State Teachers’ Convention in Seattle. Nellie Gail’s “teaching was done in the State of Washington at Lake Chelan and Port Orchard. Later she was given the principalship of a school at Lake Washington which was subsequently incorporated into the city of Seattle.” 

Learn more about her history by viewing our online exhibit.

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