Abner Banks Hall (1820-1896) was born in Ohio to Abner and
Jane Overstreet Hall, before his family migrated to Illinois. He lived all of
his seventy years in Athens, Illinois. He married Helen Jennet Francis in 1844.
His wife was a niece of Simeon Francis, co-founder and editor of the Sangamo
Journal, an important newspaper during the time of Abraham Lincoln's rise to
fame and power. Abner Banks Hall was a well-known citizen in Athens, active in
community affairs and holding several town offices.
Abner Banks and his wife operated a "tavern" on the northwest corner of Mill and
Jefferson Streets in Athens, in the former home of his father, Abner Hall. The
inn continued to operate until the 1860s and still remains today as a portion of
a residence on the northwest corner of Mill and Jefferson Streets. Former town
historian of Athens, John Clark Harris, who personally knew Mrs. Hall, related
that Lincoln often stopped at their tavern, and that Abner Banks and Lincoln
hunted squirrels together.
Banks Hallís first three children died in childhood. Ida Francis (1856) married
Thomas Croft, Abigail Jane (1859) married James H. Parrish, and Calvin Francis
(1861) married Carrie Whitehurst. Abner died September 28, 1896. Both Abner
Banks and Helen Jennett Francis Hall are buried in the Old West Cemetery in
Athens, on land donated to the city by his father.
Barbara Shannon Cox