Grace <I>Bedell</I> Billings

Grace Bedell Billings

Westfield, Chautauqua County, New York, USA
Death 2 Nov 1936 (aged 87)
Delphos, Ottawa County, Kansas, USA
Burial Delphos, Ottawa County, Kansas, USA
Memorial ID 9761299 · View Source
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On October 15th, 1860, Abraham Lincoln received a letter from 11 year old Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York. In the letter Lincoln, who had never worn a beard, was urged to grow whiskers by Grace because his face was "so thin." She promised that if he did she would get all her brothers to vote for him.
Her letter:

Hon A B Lincoln...

Dear Sir

My father has just home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin's. I am a little girl only 11 years old, but want you should be President of the United States very much so I hope you wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love and tell her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have got 4 brother's and part of them will vote for you any way and if you let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husband's to vote for you and then you would be President. My father is going to vote for you and if I was a man I would vote for you to but I will try to get every one to vote for you that I can I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be. When you direct your letter direct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chatauque County New York

I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye

Grace Bedell

Lincoln responded on October 19th. His letter to Grace Bedell read:

Miss Grace Bedell

My dear little Miss

Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received - I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters - I have three sons - one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age - They, with their mother, constitute my whole family - As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now?

Your very sincere well wisher
A. Lincoln

Whether motivated just by Grace's letter or some other cause, Lincoln grew the whiskers and the rest is history. On February 16, 1861, on his way to be inaugurated, Lincoln's train stopped in Westfield NY. Lincoln asked for Grace and showed her his new beard and gave Grace a kiss. Many newspaper articles were written about about Grace and her letter at the time and throughout the years. It has been the subject of at least two books and portrayed in film.
The letter is today owned by the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library.
Grace married George Billings when she was 17 and they moved to Delphos, Kansas. Billings was a former Civil War sergeant who was a farmer and a banker in Delphos.
They had one child, Harlow Drake Billings, who was born on September 16, 1872.
Grace passed away on Monday, November 2, 1936, two days prior to what would have been her 88th birthday..

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  • Created by: H. B. Sharpe
  • Added: 6 Nov 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 9761299
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Grace Bedell Billings (4 Nov 1848–2 Nov 1936), Find A Grave Memorial no. 9761299, citing Delphos Cemetery, Delphos, Ottawa County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by H. B. Sharpe (contributor 46638304) .