– Wesley, Samuel, James, and Steven Hill – headed to California with their
families in April 1852 from their home in Missouri. Altogether, the families
included 62 persons. Two members of the party died along the Platte. Henry
Hill, another member of the party, is buried near Torrington.
Here on Ham’s Fork Plateau, Nancy Hill died of cholera on July 5, 1852. She was 20 years old and the second eldest of six children of Wesley and Elizabeth Hill. As some sixty members of the family gathered to bury the young woman, a light snow covered the landscape. Nancy’s uncle wrote: "She was in good health on Sunday evening, taken unwell that knight worst in the morning and a corps at nine o’clock at knight."
This grave has always excited much interest because of the romantic legend associated with it. Said to have been "a goddess of a girl," Nancy reportedly had a loyal suitor who remained behind after her death to mourn her passing. In the 53 years that followed, it is said that he returned to the site at least three times to tend her grave. Her relative, Stephen Jackson, says: "We like to think her grave was so well preserved because she was so well loved."
Unfortunately, great confusion continues to surround the location of the grave. The headstone on the site is clearly not the original as it gives both a wrong date for Nancy’s death and is also wrong about her age. It is believed that well-meaning ranchers placed the marker at a later date and simply did not know the correct facts. Moreover, a recently discovered diary suggests that the grave marked as Hill’s is not, in fact, her grave. Nevertheless, it is clear that the romantic legend of Nancy Hill is largely responsible for the endurance of a grave marked in her memory.
National Park Service
Comprehensive Management Plan