Frances “Fannie” Tilton Hail

Frances “Fannie” Tilton Hail is my great-great grandmother. She was born in Randolph, Missouri on 2 January 1868 to James B. Tilton and Martha Crutchfield. James was a carpenter and contractor. Fannie had one sister, Norah, born in 1870.

Fannie came to California in her early teens in a covered wagon from Missouri, in 1876. She worked in her mother’s boardinghouse growing up. By my guess, she married James Hail in the late 1880s or early 1890s. This was her second marriage, her first with a man named Terrill. She would marry for a third time to a man named John (Jack) Becker. I don’t know any of the circumstances of her three marriages, unfortunately. My research shows that James Hail died on 20 August 1908 in Athens, Texas. But with him, she had two children, Howard (b. 1891) and my great-grandfather Roy Lee (1894-1929).

She was respected as a tough woman who did what she had to, to make ends meet. We only recently found her photograph, hidden behind a large floral photograph that belonged to my great grandmother Bernice (Fannie’s daughter-in-law). This oval-shaped, gold framed photograph hung in our living room for years, and we never knew this old photograph was behind it!

I would love to know more about Fannie. She sounds fascinating – she was married three times and ran her own business. She was part of Manifest Destiny and traveled to California in a covered wagon. What an interesting life. I’m sure at the time she thought it was ordinary and full of challenges. She reminds me of my mother, who also has been married three times, worked really hard to make ends meet and moved across the country (although in a moving van, not covered wagon). I wonder why Fannie married three times. Did she love my great-great grandfather? Was it a marriage of convenience? What happened to them? As always, if anyone has any information about her or her husband James Hail please let me know!

Fannie passed away in 12 December 1941in Albany, California. Historical enthusiasts might note the date, which was only 5 days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Her grandsons would go on to fight, and Robert Hail would be lost at Iwo Jima.

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4 Responses to “Frances “Fannie” Tilton Hail”

  1. I have a tin with a signature on the side of Fannie tilton and abbi mason? Am trying to find out if this was Fannies personal property.


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