Maplewood History: An Appreciation of Nancy Fennell Hawkins


Above: Nancy Fennell – 2nd row, 4th from left – 1946

One of the wonderful benefits of my self-appointed position as the historian of Maplewood is that I have met many extraordinary people like Nancy Fennell Hawkins.  Her messages have always been cheerful, positive and supportive.

Though we have never met in person, I regard her as a friend of the highest sort.  Additionally, she has made contributions to my effort that are amazing.  The images and documents that she gave us are rare and valuable.

A few hours ago, I received this email from Nancy.

Hi Doug,

I just wanted to let you know that my cancer is much worse and I have been placed on Hospice care.  It was such a pleasure to know you and see all you have done for Maplewood.  Keep up your excellent  work.


And here is my response.

Gollee, Nancy.  You break my heart.  You truly do.

Your contributions, your family’s historic treasures, are among the best and the most important of any I have found.  They are now preserved in the archives of our State Historic Preservation Office at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.  Due to your unselfishness and generosity, they will be able to be studied by our descendants for generations to come.

Your enthusiasm for this project and your good-natured messages will be sorely missed.  I am speechless at a time like this.  The loss to your family and friends is immeasurable.

I have long regarded you as a friend.  I thought that someday you might have returned to Maplewood and we would have a look around. I realize now that won’t happen.  I weep for you.

 I wish you peace and comfort.


Below are links to the Fennell Trove as I called it.  It is an exceptional collection of historic material all provided by the generosity of Nancy Fennell Hawkins.  The  paragraph below was posted on August 3, 2020.

The Fennell trove is the latest family collection to be put under the care of SHSMO.  Nancy Fennell Hawkins is our benefactor.  There are many rare images in this delightful collection.  Nancy’s ancestors operated a landscaping business at Rannells and Laclede Station Road.  The photographs of their teams of horses, the Black teamsters that drove them and their yard and equipment are amazing.  I am so happy that these very rare images will enjoy the protection of a facility such as SHSMO.  Fennell Trove – Part One    Part Two   Part Three    Part Four   Addenda  Sam Bland’s Journal   Sam Bland’s Journal – Part Two

Folks, make sure you take a look at the links I included above.  These are just a few of the very important images that Nancy has given us.

This is a very sad post for me to make.  There is not much we can do now for Nancy but let her know how much we appreciate her and what she has done for us.

Doug Houser        December 28, 2023



  1. I wish we could keep good people like Nancy with us forever. As a kindred spirt of history, I understand your appreciation of her generous spirit of giving. We can only hope that when her time comes, that she is comforted by the good she has done.

    • You put it very well, Doug. She has contributed so many remarkable documents and images to our historic archives that she will be remembered.

    • Thank you, Sherman. I was deeply saddened by that email from Nancy. My experience with her has always been cheerful and positive. I will miss her.

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