My 9th great grandfather was a man named John Hall who was born in England around 1605 and emigrated as a young man to America around 1632. Fortunately we find that much has been written about our John Hall although unfortunately at the same time much of what has been written is contradictory. Even in these early years of our country with a small population, the name John Hall was fairly common and perhaps it should not be surprising to discover that two of the earliest settlers of Hartford, Connecticut both were named John Hall and their histories have been somewhat intertwined. That said, what we are about to write is what we believe is the accurate story of our 9th great grandfather, John Hall.
|Sketch of early New Haven|
John Hall spent thirty years living in New Haven. Based on the amount of land that he accumulated he was fairly successful at what he did for a living (whatever that was) although he was not by any means a wealthy man. During their time in New Haven, John and Jeanne Woolen Hall raised seven (7) children, five boys and two girls, including their third child, Samuel Hall, our 8th great grandfather, who was born in 1648. Despite the fact that John Hall's name was found in the historical records on a number of occasions we still have learned very few details about his life. While he did sign the New Haven Planters' covenant, the Fundamental Agreement, that created the new settlement of New Haven on 4 June 1639, he was considered an "after-signer" in that he signed the document at some unknown later date, and consequently we do not really know the exact year that he moved to New Haven. Another confusing item is that if he married Jeanne Woolen in late 1643 or early 1644 as is generally assumed and their first child John Jr. was born sometime in 1644, why then did John and Jeanne wait until 9 August 1646 to have their first two children, John Jr. and Sarah, baptized in the First Church of Christ. This church was organized six years earlier back in 1639 but the first reference to John Hall as a member in their records was not until the 1646 baptisms. Since being a recognized citizen in the plantation of New Haven and belonging to the church were synonymous and inseparable, either the Halls were not permanently living in New Haven until a few years after their marriage or the church records are simply missing. Even if there are missing records, this still does not explain the delay in having their children baptized. We suspect here again, that John Hall continued as an active trader both with the Indians as well as with merchants in the settlements north of New Haven. It is possible that this would have required him to travel a great deal perhaps even with Jeanne, his new wife. It is also a possibility we suppose that he did not permanently settle in New Haven until after the birth of their daughter Sarah, at which time they formally joined the church and then had both of their young children baptized. This explanation conflicts of course with why he was granted land on Mill River in New Haven on 17 January 1641 and that he took an Oath of Fidelity in July of 1644. Both of these occurrences suggest that he was living in New Haven and was likely a member of the church. Some of the fun of studying the history of our ancestors is that we occasionally encounter these types of mysteries that we know will never be solved no matter how much time we spend looking through the records.
In 1670 John's and Jeanne's three oldest sons, John, Samuel, and Thomas, ages 25, 23 and 21 respectively, moved to the new community of Wallingford located about 14 miles north of New Haven up the Quinnipiac River (then referred to as "the east river.") Wallingford had just been formed a year earlier and sons John, Samuel, and Thomas undoubtedly eagerly signed their names to the founding covenant. Moving to a new community such as Wallingford gave the young men a chance to own their own land, build their own homes, start up new businesses, and raise their families without having to share everything with their parents and siblings. Both John and Samuel were married and their wives moved with them. Their father and mother were also to moved to Wallingford, only a few years later and even then for a few more years John and Jeanne Hall maintained homes both in New Haven and in Wallingford. In 1665, John Hall Sr. had turned 60 years old and as a result his obligation to serve in the militia had ceased and we suspect that his business, perhaps at that point as a store owner and merchant, may have either been sold, closed, or turned over to one of his two youngest sons to manage. It seems apparently in any case, that John Hall Sr had slowed down somewhat since in 1675 in Wallingford he agreed to serve on a committee of thirteen men along with his sons John Jr. and Samuel to formally establish a church. There are no records of John Hall in the past ever finding the time to serve on committees and in fact, in New Haven in 1669 he had actually turned down a request to serve as a constable. Some of the biographies of John Hall state that he served as one of the 1st deacons of the church in Wallingford and as a Selectman although we believe that it was in fact his son John Jr. who served in these rolls. My 9th great grandfather John Hall died somewhat unexpectedly at the age of 71 in early 1676. We believe it was unexpected simply because he left only a verbal will and despite his modest wealth he had not anticipated his death. The death was probably caused by illness that took his life rather quickly. Not unexpectedly, my 9th great grandmother, Jeanne Woolen Hall married, not long after John's death, a widower named John Cooper whom she had known in New Haven. Jeanne died in 1690. Some believe that John Cooper's first marriage was to Jeanne Woolen's sister Mary Woolen although we found absolutely no evidence to support this claim. John Hall was in the end a good man. He worked hard during his life providing for his family and clearly he had set a good example for his sons for they all were successful in their own lives after their father's death.
Of the original 38 families who were assigned lots in Wallingford in 1669, three of the eight acre lots were granted to sons of John Hall. Lot number 5 went to John Hall Jr,; Lot number 15 went to Thomas Hall, and lot number 3 was given to my 8th great grandfather Samuel Hall. This small acquisition of land by Samuel was only the beginning of his land acquisitions for it is said that by the time of his death in 1725 Samuel had become a large landowner. His ability to acquire all of this land was obviously a result of his successful business career as a "dishturner." He had constructed in Wallingford on the east river (the Quinnipiac River) a water mill that powered a saw for cutting lumber. From the cut lumber he manufactured wooden dishes, cups, and possibility furniture which were all in high demand during this period of history when china, copper, and silver dinnerware was not yet readily available nor affordable. My 8th great grandmother's name was Hannah Walker, daughter of John and Grace Walker who are believed to have been good friends of Samuel's parents and settled near them in New Haven. Hannah and Samuel married in New Haven in the year 1668 shortly before they moved to Wallingford. Their first child, John Hall (1670-1730), my 7th great grandfather was born shortly after their move to Wallingford in 1670. Obviously Hannah was pregnant while Samuel Hall labored to build them a new home in the wooded wilderness land on the hillside above the Quinnipiac River. In total, Samuel and Hannah were to have seven children.
Samuel Hall was not only a good business and family man but he also played an active role in maintaining his civic responsibilities. As with most men his age in Colonial America, he was a member of the local militia. He not only served during the King Philip's War of 1675-1676, but by 1696 he was listed as a lieutenant of his "trainband" (groups of local men who were trained periodically to fight to protect their community) which probably meant he was second in command of the local Wallingford militia, and then by 1704 (during the Queen Anne's War) he was promoted to the rank of captain (first in command of his militia unit) which would have been quite an honor and showed that he was highly respected in the community both for his military training skills as well as for his leadership ability. What is not really clear in any of the history records that we reviewed is whether or not Samuel Hall and his small militia unit ever actually engaged in any direct battles with the Indians. The constant threat of an Indian attacked however, existed during Samuel's entire life and therefore constant military training was an essential and important feature in all early American communities. The threat of Indian attacks continued long after Samuel Hall's death in 1725 for the French and Indian War did not even begin until 1752. Besides his military duties, Samuel Hall also served for many years as a Deputy to the General Court where he and the other selected deputies worked to determine the laws and taxes within the various local towns.
As we researched our Hall ancestors it quickly became apparent that most members of the Hall family in these early generations were all hard working and successful individuals and my 7th great grandfather, John Hall, was no exception. He was born in Wallingford on the 22nd day of December in the year 1670. His birth home was probably a new log cabin that his father had just finished constructing. As Christmas was approaching there may have been a roaring fire in their new stone fireplace and quite possibly snow was laying on the ground surrounding their home. We have to believe that shortly following his birth, his uncles John and Thomas Hall along with Uncle John's wife Mary, and possibly even his grandparents John and Jeanne Hall stopped by the home to welcome the newborn baby and congratulate the new parents. In their house on this 22nd day of December there were three John Halls, a fact that helps explain the confusion that historians have had when researching the life of my 7th great grandfather. The problem is further compounded when we add another John Hall to the list, a son of Uncle John and wife Mary who was born in 1678 and as it turns out lived in Wallingford during the same time period as his cousin.
John Hall married my 7th great grandmother Mary Lyman on 8 December 1692. Mary was the daughter of John and Dorcas (Dorothy) Lyman of Northampton, Massachusetts which immediately begs the question as to how did John Hall of Wallingford meet his future wife Mary Lyman of Northampton. While today these two communities are only about a one hour drive apart, in 1692 the 60 mile trip might take as long as two long days. While we do not really know how they met, we have a theory. Mary's older sister by two years, Dorothy Lyman married a man named Jabez Brockett who was an early settler of Wallingford. Jabez Brockett was born in 1656 and was 35 years old when he married 26 year old Dorothy. Jabez Brockett was known to be a militia soldier during the King Phillip's War and it is possible that during the war which took place in 1675 and 1676 that he may have met Dorothy and Mary Lyman's father, John Lyman, who was known to be a lieutenant during this Indian war. Whatever the case, Jabez Brockett and Dorothy Lyman were married in November of 1691 and shortly thereafter she became pregnant. Since Dorothy knew few people in her new home in Wallingford, we suggest that she may have invited her sister Mary, who was two years her junior, down to Wallingford to help her through her pregnancy. While Mary was in Wallingford she met John Hall and they fell in love. Her sister's baby was born on 17 September 1692 and John and Mary were married less than three months later on 8 December 1692. This makes for a great story and it makes sense.
John and Mary Lyman Hall's first child, John Hall, Jr., was born on the 13th day of September 1693 only nine months and five days after his parents' marriage. Together my 7th great grandparents were to have seven children (who were alive at the time of John's death and mentioned in his will) including my 6th great grandfather Benjamin Hall who was born in 1704. John Hall's life was eulogized at his funeral in 1730 by the Reverend Samuel Whittlesey, pastor of John's church, who fortunately hand wrote his eulogy on paper so that today we can still see the words he used to describe the life of our great grandfather. Some of these words tell us quite a story: "Skillful and righteous judge," "Wise and able Counsellor," "Extended foresight," "Truly fitted for government and public service," and finally, "excellent talents." We also see in many of the historical narratives describing John's life where he is referred to as the Honorable John Hall, and based on his civic activities during his life time it is quite easy to see why he was so respected. In his Will it reports that he distributed to his sons almost 1,000 acres of land that he owned so obviously what ever John Hall did for a living in addition to the work that he did in government, he was successful enough to be able to acquire land. Like his father before him, John Hall was elected to be the Captain in the local militia and while we do not know whether he directly participated in any of the Indian wars, what we do know is that he lived during tumultuous times when the colonies were in a state of constant excitement and alarm and it is therefore probable that he faced on numerous occasions situations where military action was necessary.
My 7th great grandfather, John Hall, was also prominent in public affairs. The early colonial government of Connecticut was very special in our country's history as its "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut" established in 1636 was one of the first written democratic constitutions that established a representative government and it is generally accepted by most historians that it formed the basis of the later United States Constitution. It was modified slightly with the Connecticut Charter of 1662 which merged all of the colonies within Connecticut under one government and perhaps more importantly, the new charter gave the colony a legal basis and the approval of the King of England. The governmental structure of the colony of Connecticut within which our John Hall participated was organized as follows: At the head of the government was an elected governor and a deputy governor. Below the governor was another elected group referred to under various names including the Governor's Council or Assistants or the General Court which consisted of a group of elected magistrates to advise the governor, to make the laws, and to act as the justices of the court. The final group was known as the General Assembly which was composed of elected deputies from each of the towns. Our understanding is that our John Hall served first as one of the town's deputies in the General Assembly and then from 1722 until 1730 he was elected and served on the Governor's Council as an Assistant and as a justice of the Supreme Court of the Colony. The title of "Honorable" often seen proceeding the name John Hall would certainly be appropriate for a man who served as a judge. John Hall's service in the government of Colonial Connecticut was cut short when he died at the relatively young age of 59 in the year 1730. One final observation worth mentioning before we explore the life of our 6th great grandfather Benjamin Hall, is that John Hall was the grandfather of a man named Lyman Hall who was the son of John Hall's oldest son John Hall Jr. Lyman Hall was only six years old when his grandfather died. He is important in our country's history not only because he was a governor of Georgia but also because he was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Lyman Hall is my 1st cousin, 7 times removed.
Benjamin Hall's father died in 1730 and in his will he left Benjamin and his brothers a lot of land including a large landholding on the Mill River over in Cheshire just west of Wallingford, where Benjamin and Abiah moved along with their three children who had been born prior to the move. It was undoubtedly due to the fact that Benjamin came from a wealthy family, was a large landowner, and was probably respected for his apparent leadership traits, plus the fact that his older brother Samuel was pastor of the local church, that he was elected in 1733 to be a Representative to the Assembly by the town of Cheshire and then in that same year and even greater honor was bestowed on him when he was commissioned to be not only a Magistrate in the Governor's Council/General Court but also a captain in the local trainband, the militia. Benjamin was only 29 years old and still a young father when all of this occurred. Despite being very busy for the next two decades, traveling, serving his legal duties as the local magistrate, and being head of the local militia, Benjamin and Abiah managed to raise nine children including their sixth child and my 5th great grandfather Benjamin Hall Jr. who was born the 27th of September 1736.
|Before and after the French and Indian War|
|Benjamin Hall 1736-1786|
William Burnham Hall was just under 12 years old when his father died and while we do not know for certain, he probably continued to live with his mother at his parents' home until her death in 1797 when William was only 22. At that point what we believe is that he like so many others during this same time period moved westward, and eventually settled in Seneca County, New York in the Town of Fayette located between Cayuga Lake on the east and Seneca Lake on the west. Here he met his future wife and my 4th great grandmother, Rebecca Meekins Boardman, and they married sometime around 1797. Rebecca was only 14 years old when they married. She was only around five years old when she had left her birth home in Hubbardton, Vermont in 1788 and moved with her parents and two older siblings to central New York State. Her father, Benajah Boardman, our 5th great grandfather, was a soldier during the American Revolution and he is credited with being a sergeant in a company under the command of Col. Ira Allen, brother of Ethan Allen. The company under which he fought has been called the Green Mountain Boys.
William and Rebecca were to have only three children before her early death in 1805 at the age of 22. Unfortunately of their three children only one survived beyond childhood and that was my 3rd great grandmother Elizabeth Boardman Hall who was born on the 15th of April 1801. Unfortunately, we found very little about the life of our great grandfather. It seems that he remarried a woman named Lucinda shortly after Rebecca's death but his new wife also died in the year 1808 also at the young age of 22. William was only 34 years old when his second wife died so it is probable that he remarried for a third time. We did find US Census records for the years 1810, 1820, and 1830 for a William B Hall in Fayette which is undoubtedly our great grandfather that would suggest a third marriage and at least one additional son and possibly two additional daughters. We also found an 1812 voting record for Seneca County giving the results for the election of an assemblyman to the New York State Assemble. William B Hall was listed as one of the candidates for the position however, he received only one vote out of several thousand which probably reflected the fact that he voted for himself. Clearly our 4th great grandfather, William Barnham Hall was not as highly regarded as his forbearers.
Elizabeth's marriage to Mosely was long and prosperous. Mosely became an attorney, and for a period a judge and a State Assemblyman. Together they had seven children including my great, great grandmother Mary Rebecca Hutchinson who was born on the 24th of April in 1825. We are related to the Hutchinson and Hall families through my mother's grandfather, Eugene Hutchinson Ferree, whose grandparents were Mosely and Elizabeth Boardman Hall. We have visited the graves of my great grandparents Eugene Hutchinson Ferree and his wife Marian Coapman Ferree, and his mother Mary Rebecca Hutchinson Ferree, and his grandparents Mosely Hutchinson and Elizabeth Hall Hutchinson who are all buried near one another in the Lakeview Cemetery in the Village of Cayuga, New York. The Hall family tree was a wonderful ancestral line to explore and write their story, as once again we have discovered more of our ancestors who played strong roles in our country's history.