Miss Lillian Trego – “Old Maid Schoolteacher” 

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Archivist/Curator

Every object in our collection has a story. Some of the stories have been lost to time, others we quickly scribble down when a family member donates the object with the plan to do more research later.  Such was the case with pair of shoes dating from the early 1900s.

The donation note read:

“From the nephew of Lillian Trego old maid schoolteacher – Halstead, Ks, shoes at least 100 years old.”

On their own, this pair of shoes look like many other shoes in our collection from a hundred years ago or more, but the donor knew who wore them – his aunt, Miss Lillian Trego.

These well-worn shoes walked many classrooms over the years as Lillian Trego taught school in the Halstead area.

Lilliann Trego, 1922

Miss Lillian Trego

Her obituary notes only the basics. She was born February 23, 1885, at Bentley, Ks. She taught elementary school for many years and lived in Halstead. She was a member of the First United Presbyterian Church in Halstead and of the American Legion Auxiliary, Halstead. She died at age 93 in October 1978. The obituary noted “there are no immediate survivors.” 

Trego Family

A search for information on her parents revealed a few more clues. She was the second oldest, and the oldest daughter born to Joseph P. Trego and Jennie Clark Trego Trego. The couple had four children. Their youngest son, Joseph P Trego died in England on June 16, 1918, from the flu during WW1.

The obituary for her father, Joseph P. Trego, Sr, had more family history. Joseph lived an adventurous life. In 1878, he came to Halstead, Kansas. A year later, his parents moved to a farm southwest of Halstead. In 1882, Joseph married Jennie Clark Trego. He then spent time “following the arduous and adventuresome life of a cowboy” in southern Kansas and Indian Territory.  A man “of strong Physique and virile character. . . faithful and fearless, honest and honorable in his relations with his fellowmen,” he was member of the Newton A.H.T.A. Trego, raised as a Friend, “he always cherished the faith of his fathers.” He died March 28, 1927 at the age of 69. Lillian’s mother Jennie Clark Trego Trego died April 20, 1944 at the age of 79.

Lillian was also the last of the four Trego siblings to die. The eldest Harry died in 1965, Allen in 1972 and Joseph in 1918.

When looking at the shoes, one can imagine all the children Miss Lillian Trego taught. Was she a stern teacher? Was she someone’s favorite teacher? Walking in those shoes, Lillian educated the next generation of Harvey County.

Even the simplest of objects have a story to tell about the person that used or wore it.


  • Newton Kansan: 6 October 1978
  • Joseph P. Trego Obituary on Find A Grave Memorial Number 29667720.