Today marks the 125th birthday of author Maud Hart Lovelace. She was born in a little house located at 214 Center Street (pictured below) in Mankato, MN to Thomas and Stella (Palmer) Hart. The Hart family moved to 333 Center Street when Maud was six months old.
Was Maud really born on April 26, 1892? Maud’s birthday was always celebrated on April 25. However it was not until she was 50 years old that she learned she was technically born on April 26. She had asked her mother about the hour of her birth, and her mother’s response was “pretty near midnight, in fact it was a little after, but only a teeny bit.” Maud replied, “You mean I was born on the 26th?” Her mother answered, “I suppose so. It was after midnight, a half hour or so.” She went on to tell her the story that Maud’s Uncle Jim Hart had become engaged in April 1892 to a widow named Maud Fowler Maloney while Stella was pregnant. Maud Maloney’s birthday was April 25, and Stella had told her that if her baby was born on the 25th, she would be named Maud. Stella went into labor on the 25th, but the baby wasn’t born before midnight. She explained that “they all liked Aunt Maud so well, I fudged on the date.” All legal records show Maud’s birth date as April 25. And so we continue to celebrate Maud’s birthday on April 25, just as she always did.
In Mankato, we’re commemorating this milestone birthday with a proclamation, a birthday party and a concert!
Mankato Mayor, Eric Anderson, has proclaimed today to be Maud Hart Lovelace Day! On Saturday, April 29, the Betsy-Tacy Society will host “Betsy’s Birthday Party” at the Betsy and Tacy houses (childhood homes of Maud and her best friend, Frances “Bick” Kenney) complete with party games and birthday cake. On Sunday, April 30, the BTS has partnered with St. John’s Episcopal Church to host a very special concert. Popular vocalist Maud Hixson, accompanied by her husband Rick Carlson on the piano, will perform a selection of songs from her CD, Listening For Your Song: A musical companion to the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. This CD is a collection of songs from the 1900s through WWI that were referred to in Maud Hart Lovelace’s series of Betsy-Tacy books. Special guest appearance by Maria Jette, well-known soprano, and regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. will join Hixson in singing Rossini’s “Cat Duet”. Fans of the Betsy-Tacy books will recognize St. John’s Episcopal Church from the Betsy-Tacy books. Characters Julia and Betsy join the Episcopal Church to sing in the choir. Tickets for this concert are still available.
So whether or not Maud was born on April 25 or April 26, we celebrate the milestone birthday of a beloved author whose character of Elizabeth (Betsy) Warrington Ray in the Betsy-Tacy books would inspire women and girls for generations.