Billings, Grace Bedell

Life Span
    Full name
    Grace Bedell Billings
    Place of Birth
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Free State
    No. of Siblings
    No. of Spouses
    No. of Children
    Norman Bedell (father), George Billings (husband, 1867), Harlow Drake Billings (son)
    Children in 1860
    Residence in 1860
    Marital status in 1860

    Grace Bedell Billings (New York Times)


    Mrs. Billings, Then Child, Met President-Elect After He Heeded Her Letter.

    DELPHOS, Kan., Nov. 2 (AP).- Mrs. Grace Bedell Billings, who as an eleven-year-old girl was reputed to have induced Abraham Lincoln to grow a beard, died here today at the age of 88.

    During the election campaign of 1860, Mrs. Billings, who was living in Westfield, N. Y., noticed some election poster portraits of Lincoln, and scrawled this latter to the presidential nominee:

    “Dear Mr. Lincoln: I think you would look better with whiskers. Two of my brothers are Republicans, two are Democrats. I think I could get my Democratic brothers to vote for you if you wore a beard. The rail fence around your picture in the poster is very pretty. Have you any little girls?”

    Four days later, she received this answer from Lincoln:

    “My Dear Grace Bedell: Your very agreeable letter of the 15th received. I regret to say I have no little girl. I have three sons, one 17 years old, one 9, and one 7. Speaking of whiskers, don’t you think people would call it a silly affection if I should begin wearing whiskers?”

    Mrs. Billings recalled in an interview several years ago that Lincoln, while going through Westfield in February after his election, left the train and on meeting her said, “Gracie, look at my whiskers; I have been growing them for you,” whereupon he kissed her. She never saw him again.

    Mrs. Billings still had the letter at her death.

    “Suggester of Beard for Lincoln Dies, 88,” New York Times, November 3, 1936, p. 25.
    Chicago Style Entry Link
    Holzer, Harold. "The Bearding of the President, 1860: The Portraitists put on Hairs." Lincoln Herald 78, no. 3 (1976): 95-101. view record
    Hughes, James. "Those Who Passed Through: Unusual Visits to Unlikely Places." New York History 87, no. 3 (2006): 378-382. view record
    Lincoln National Life Foundation. Lincoln's Beard: Photostat Reproductions of correspondence between Abraham Lincoln and Grace Bedell. Fort Wayne, IN: Lincolniana Publishers, 1933. view record
    Steers, Edward, Jr. "'A Puttin' on (H)airs'." Lincoln Herald 91, no. 3 (1989): 86-90. view record
    How to Cite This Page: "Billings, Grace Bedell," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,