In this Section is discussed others of the Hall-Overstreet families that pioneered at Athens, Illinois in the years 1820 - 1860. Although the main thread of this history centers on Abner Hall from who the writer is descended, he was not along in the westward movement that led from Virginia to Ohio and to Illinois.|
The following persons are discussed in this section
Brothers of Abner
Betsey (Smith) Miles
There were possibly other family members in the area that had migrated from Virginia or from Ohio. These are unknown to the writer and are not discussed.
The basic Hall - Overstreet families that pioneered at Athens, Illinois were the following:
John Overstreet, Sr., and his wife, Nancy (Dabney) Overstreet.
Rev. John Overstreet, Jr., and his wife Susannah (Roberts) Overstreet.
Abner Hall and his wife, Jane (Overstreet) Hall
Elisha Hall and his wife, Nancy (Overstreet) Hall
James Hall and his wife, Eleanor (_____?_________) Hall
Dabney Overstreet and his wife, Jennie (Rodgers) Overstreet
John and Nancy Overstreet were the parents of: John Jr., Dabney; Jane and Nancy Overstreet.
The three Hall men were brothers; Abner and Elisha had married Jane and Nancy Overstreet, respectively.
Pioneering in Illinois
he fathered fifteen children!
Elisha Hall +
1783 - 1838
Of the family of Hezekiah Hall, especially of the three brothers who migrated to Illinois, the statistical data on Elisha is best known: this is because of the genealogical work of a number of his descendants. His early life was lived in Bedford county Virginia. There he married Nancy Overstreet, 1793 - 1862, in 1811. From this marriage there were fifteen children - the largest family in the Hall - Overstreet families. Elisha died at Athens, Illinois November 5, 1838 at the age of fifty-five years.
From the Will of Hezekiah Hall, d. 1811, there is the record that 'Item. I give unto Elisha Hall five shillings.' This gives the impression that Elisha had been short-changed by his father. This was not so. In 1808, Hezekiah gave 'unto his son Elisha Hall, Campbell county land (formerly in Bedford county) beginning at Thomas Hall's line, west to Hezekiah's then south to Hall's line, etc.'
Campbell county was created from Bedford in 1782. Elisha was twenty-five years old in 1808. This land then was not a wedding gift for Elisha's marriage of 1811. Elisha may have been contemplating marriage at the time of the gift, although Nancy Overstreet at that time was only 15. At the time of marriage, she was 18 years of age.
A later record shows that 'Elisha Hall and Nancy, his wife, sold the land to James Lancaster.'; the date was 1812. Elisha and Nancy were planning to move to Ohio. Hezekiah was dead and home ties broken. The sale would finance the move out of Virginia.
Witnesses to Hezekiah's gift to Elisha (1808) were Burwell Lee, William Hall and Thomas Hall. Lee, possibly a relative and neighbor, figures in other Hall legal records. William and Thomas were Elisha's brothers - also given land by their father. ++
Something about the years that Elisha and Nancy (Overstreet) Hall spent in Ohio are discussed in another section of this history and will not be repeated at this point. Suffice it to say, that one of their children had been born in Virginia and that others were added during the Ohio years.
Elisha and his family were among the last to arrive in Illinois.
It is thought that Old John Overstreet and his wife Nancy traveled with them. Of the Halls, Old John seemed to have the most intimate relationship with Elisha's family.
The earliest record of Elisha Hall in the Illinois country is found in Elijah Ile's Sales Ledger. Iles was a pioneer merchant at Springfield. On October 29, 1829 Old John Overstreet and Elisha were at Ile's store. John paid for an order of merchandise totaling $1.25. On the same date, Elisha purchased one-half gallon of whiskey for John. This amount of whiskey cost twenty-five cents. We hope that they got home alright as they had to cross the Sangamon River and several other streams - by fording them!
After a brief merchandising career with his brother, Abner, Elisha remained a farmer. Firmly entrenched in Illinois by 1827, he entered land as quickly as possible and those of his children who stayed in the area accumulated substantial land; these holding remaining in the family until fairly recent times. The land was just north of the present city of Athens, Illinois.
We know little of him personally, but one of his descendants referred to Nancy, his wife, as a 'saint' - a woman known for her good works. If anything, Elisha may have resembled his father, Hezekiah, a good man of the soil. However, there is some evidence that he was 'a rough' and ready character.'
From the Sangamon county Commissioner' Records, 1822 - 1832, on the Monday, December 6, 1830 is found the case of The People vs. Elisha Hall and Joel Hall. (father and son)
December, the first day of 1830. The defendants fined three
dollars each for assault and battery on the body of James B.
Before me Geo. Power J.P.
J. Langston, Constable
This case is of historic interest as the first Sangamon County Court Hose was a building on the Power farm. This building with furnishings of the period can be seen on the Power farm near Cantrall, Illinois.
The census of 1830 found Elisha well established in Sangamon county, Illinois. (He never lived in Menard county as it was formed after his death.) By 1830 he had ten children, seven boys and three girls. The Elisha Hall's were busy filling up the open spaces in the Sang-ga-ma country.
In the discussion on Abner Hall is given the information of Abner's starting the probate of Elisha's estate in 1838. Elisha died intestate. Nancy became the administrator of the estate. From the Sangamo Journal, Nov. 17, 1838 we take the following legal notice:
The subscriber having taken out letters of administration on the estate of Elisha Hall, late of Sangamon County, deceased, gives notice that she will attend before the Probate Justice of said county at his office in Springfield on the first Monday of January next, to receive and adjust all claims against said estate. All persons endebted to said estate are requested to make immediate payment.
Nancy Hall, Administrator of Elisha Hall, deceased.
Athens, Nov. 6, 1838.
The 1840 Census shows Nancy Hall now head of the family. She is now in the 40 - 50 age group and her household consists of five males and three females, excluding herself. It is a good guess that some of the older children are now on their own or at least living with other families.
In spite of the property left her by her husband, Nancy may well have had a difficult time. Again, from the search of the old Sangamon county records:
The Estate of Elisha Hall
To Nancy Hall Widow Dr.
To provisions clothing & necessaries for self & family for one year there being 12 children in family at 50 cents each per week.
It is ordered that the above a/c be allowed to Nancy Hall widow of Elisha Hall dec'd. Sept. 1st, 1841.
J. Adams P.J.P.S.C.
In other words, since there were minor children and the estate could not be closed for some years, Nancy was permitted to enter into the estate to provide for herself and family. Actually in terms of the times, plus the fact that a great deal of the living could be raised on the farm, the allowance of fifty cents per person, per week, wasn't too bad.
We do not know the personal estate of Elisha, but prior to his death he had entered the following parcels of land from the government:
16 Jan. 1828 80 acres
1 Apr. 1831 80
29 Feb. 1836 80
all in Township 18 North, Range 6 West of 3rd P.M.
Family of Elisha and Nancy (Overstreet) Hall
Born in Bedford County, Virginia
1. Adelia Hall (Hyde) b. 31 May 1812
Born in Lawrence County, Ohio
2. Keziah Hall (Jordan) b. 15 April 1813
3. Joel Wesley Hall (Ferguson) b. 4 Nov 1814
m. 12 Dec 1840
d. 17 Nov 1853
4. John Nelson Hall (Parker) b. 10 Jun 1816
m. 4 Nov 1842
d. 25 Oct 1902
5. James Pembrook Hall (Pierce) b. 1 Jul 1818
6. Lucinda Hall (Primm) b. 28 Apr 1820
m. 18 June 1839
7. Sarah Hall (Patterson) b. 17 Mar 1822
d. 26 Aug 1912
8. Elisha Banks Hall (Parker) b. 25 Oct 1824
9. George Hall (Short) b. 18 May 1826
Born in Sangamon County (now Menard) Illinois
10. Dabney Hall (Short) b. 5 Oct 1828
d. 18 Apr 1874
11. William M. Hall b. 21 Oct 1830
d. 29 Jul 1864
12. Virginia Hall (Pierce) b. 19 June 1833
d. 21 June 1925
13. Tabitha Hall (Logue) b. 13 Mar 1835
14. Sussanannah Rogers Hall b. 23 Mar 1837
15. Nancy Jane Hall (Pierce) b. 1 Feb 1838
This is the largest Hall-Overstreet family of record. Since Elisha died in 1838, only four of the group had reached their 20th birthdate. Considerable genealogical data exists on this family.
Naming Their Children
While it is not the purpose of The Grandfathers to examine the Elisha Hall line in detail, as the author is not a descendant of it, a study of the names of the children in this large family gives an interesting insight to family history.
First, it is noted that the births follow the family trail in the migration westward. The births of this family occur in Virginia, Ohio and Illinois and approximated the various dates of the Hall - Overstreet family moves.
Second, the relationship of the group to their Virginia family members is documented in the names given the children.
Using the names of the family as listed on the previous page, the apparent sources of the given names can be discerned. (No.'s 1 - 15):
1. No name source known
2. From Elisha's mother, aunt and sister
3. Joel - was a common Hall given name in early Va. history. Wesley became popular after the sweep of Methodism in colonial Virginia.
4. James-was the name of Elisha's brother. Pembroke - unknown.
5. John - from John Overstreet, Nancy's father. Common Hall name
6. Lucinda - source unknown.
7. Sarah - Elisha's sister - a great aunt.
8. Elisha Banks - Name Elisha in every Hall family branch. Banks presumably from Elisha's mother.
9. George - unknown - (Dabney Family?)
10. Dabney - From Nancy's mother, the Dabney family
11. William - from Elisha's grandfather
12. Virginia - a most popular name for girls among Virginia families
13. Tabitha - Elisha's sister - a common Hall name
14. Sussanah Rogers - from the wife of John Overstreet (Jr.); also her marriage into the prominent Rogers family. Sussanah was the heroine of the War of 1812 story. (see text)
15. Nancy Jane - serves several purposes: honors her mother; honors her aunt Jane and the grandmother Nancy Dabney Overstreet.
The Elisha Hall Family
Several members of this family achieved prominence and were important land owners in the Athens area for several generations. One member served in the Civil War and is discussed under The Halls in the Civil War. Another member had a son (grandson Elisha) in the Civil War. Two prominent male members were: John Nelson Hall and James Pembrook Hall. The marriage of Lucinda into the Primm family was an important linkage. Several brother - sister inter-family marriages will be noted from the family list. Elisha Banks Hall, who drifted farthest from the home base, had an interesting career and is discussed in the pages that follow. Only one family member never married - William, d. 1864.
honored by his descendants …John Nelson Hall
1816 - 1902
A present-day visitor to Old West Cemetery at Athens, Illinois will note one of the newer and larger monuments there dedicated to the memory of John Nelson Hall, son of Elisha and Nancy (Overstreet) Hall. The marker was placed there by his descendants, and the family is well documented. Principal movers in this work was his youngest daughter, Ella Hall Campbell, 1869 - 1964, and a grand-daughter, Ruby Hall McCormick, 1902 - , daughter of his son, Dr. William E. Hall, 1848 - 1923. + Both women were active in the DAR.
John Nelson Hall was born in Lawrence county, Ohio and came to Illinois with his parents in 1827. He married Sarah Parker, 1824-1890, in 1842. J.N. Hall eventually owned 500 A. of land in the vicinity of Athens. There was a family of fourteen children. The oldest child was born in 1843 and the youngest in 1869. The last child died in 1964, one hundred years after the marriage.
J.N. Hall had southern sympathies as indicated in the naming of his children. Although many of his children stayed in Illinois, others felt the lure of the country west of the Mississippi, they ended up in the states of Kansas, Idaho, Texas and Iowa. He had one son to serve in the Civil War. (see: Halls in the Civil War.)
a grandson … Dr. William E. Hall
1848 - 1923
Most distinguished descendant of Elisha and Nancy Hall, a son of John Nelson Hall, was Dr. William E. Hall. Dr. Hall spent the major years of his life in the vicinity of Waco, Texas. From his obituary we learn: Born at Athens, Ill., he received his medical degree from the Hahnemann School of Medicine, Chicago, in 1883. He practiced medicine for eight years at Waco, Texas. He began purchasing Texas land in 1884 and eventually acquired large holdings. He became a successful farmer. In 1901 the town of Hallsburg, Texas was laid out and named for him. This came about by his giving right of way land to the International & Great Northern Railroad. Later, a considerable portion of this land was acquired for making an artificial lake by a public utility. Dr. Wm. E. Hall was a civic leader, serving as a school trustee and in other capacities. He was married three times and had five children by his third marriage; two daughters surviving to adulthood.
… a good life …Sarah Hall Patterson
1822 - 1912
Born in Ohio, Mrs. Patterson, a daughter of Elisha and Nancy (Overstreet) Hall married Isaac Patterson in 1840. They made their home at Springfield, Illinois after 1859 where their family of eleven children were raised and educated. At the time of her death, five of her family survived. Two of her sons and one son-in-law were business leaders at Springfield. One son, Frank U. (Union) Patterson, during his retirement, studied the family history intensively. +++ (Isaac D. Patterson, 1812/3 - 1877)
hunter … trapper … fur traderElisha Banks Hall
1824 - 1902
Of Elisha and Nancy (Overstreet) Hall's family it is perhaps their eighth child, a son Elisha Banks Hall born in 1824, that has left the most unique remembrance of all the family. It is Hall Lake, the largest of the five lakes that feature the city of Fairmont, Minnesota. It is name for this Hall family member.
Characterized as a 'drifter', E.B. Hall did drift way from his home community of Athens, Illinois to become the first resident of this area of Minnesota which is just above the Iowa line in 1853. He built one of the first cabins there and continued his life as a hunter and trapper, and establishing a fur-trading post. Then followed a series of adventures brought about by the Indians resisting the encroachment on their territory. Today, Hall Lake is a reminder of one of Fairmont's most interesting first citizens.
His wife, Perlica Parker, experienced a rugged life, but did live long enough to bear him five children, three boys and two girls: John, George, Arthur, Anna and Minnie Hall. As of now, he has descendants still living in Minnesota with others in Wisconsin, Iowa and California. Perlica died in 1877 and E.B. Hall was able to persuade his mother-in-law, Margaret Parker to care for his family. She did a good job, showing bravery as the Indians at that time were not always friendly.
Chance plays a large part in doing a family history. At first the author could not find any additional information about Elisha Banks Hall except his birthdate. Apparently, this had been the fate of previous family seekers. A family pedigree was published in a genealogical publication, giving the Hall family line. Then, came a letter from California. It was from a descendant of this line from Elisha and Nancy (Overstreet) Hall. As a result, new contacts were established with others of the E.B. Hall family and the story gradually unfolded.
According to one correspondent: 'E. B. Hall had no schooling and could not read or write, but got along real well anyway. His claim was staked out and is now within the limits of the City of Fairmont. Now it is a lovely residential part of the city, called Hazelmere.' Of course Hall Lake is part of this preferred area.
Meanwhile the author has collected a number of 'adventure' stories involving E.B. Hall and they will be included in the appendix of this text. Under the title: "Adventures with the Minnesota Indians" they will be told and it is hoped that they will add color to the Hall-Overstreet Family History.
This concludes the section on Elisha Hall, 1783 - 1838 and Nancy Overstreet Hall, 1793 - 1862. Extensive genealogical information will be put in the files of the Ill. State Historical Library, Springfield.
a little-known brotherJames Hall
c. 1792 - c. 1850
Of the three brothers Abner, Elisha and James Hall, sons of Hezekiah Hall, who came to Illinois from Virginia after spending several years in Ohio, we know the least about James. The records are fragmentary and the dates given for his life are estimates.
From the Will of his father, Hezekiah, made in 1811 we have the statement: 'Item, I give unto Samuel Hall, James Hall, Abner Hall and Keziah Hall which are my beloved sons and daughters, all my estate both real and personality not otherwise disposed of.'
This places James in the four youngest children and between Samuel and Abner in order of birth.
In the allotment of lands from the estate, 'Jas. Hall had the 2nd lot containing 61 acres.' We can assume that on his leaving Virginia for Ohio that he likely sold the land for cash to finance his new venture.
James was the Surety for the marriage of Elisha, his brother, and Nancy Overstreet. This occurred in Bedford county in 1811. When the younger children decided to dispose of their mother's dower lands in about 1815, James came back from Ohio with the power of attorney to act for them. Since no wife was named for him in the transaction, it can be assumed that he married sometime after that date.
Our records for him in Ohio are to be found only in legal documents relative to other members of the family. In those cases he witnessed the signatures of the others. No record of marriage or of property ownership has been found for him.
It is surmised from circumstantial evidence that he was in the first contingent, made up of his brother Abner and family and his own family, to arrive in the Illinois country. A best guess is about 1822, although it could have been a year or so later.
We find no entry for lands, nor any record of his living the Athens community. Again, by second guessing, it appears that he was a farmer and the evidence points to him living in the Fancy Creek - Williamsville area. He may have never actually lived in Menard county, but always in the Sangamon county area. He may have farmed on rented land or for others.
He is in the census of 1830 and he is the only male in the household; he is between thirty and forty years of age as is his wife. There are six females in the family, the oldest child between 10 and 15 years old, indicating birth in Ohio.
Coming to the census of 1840, we find James as being between 40 and 50 years of age, his wife still in the 30-40 year group. There are now seven in the family, one of the children a male. The record is not clear.
The census of 1850 gives a much clearer picture as it is a more complete record. James is no longer living - thus, giving an approximate date for his death as 1845.
His wife is now head of the family. The only name we have for her is Eleanor. _ She is 51 years of age, making her birth year 1799. We arbitrarily set that for James as 1798. Eleanor has personal property worth $100 and is living at Athens in Menard county. She, like her husband, was born in Virginia.
As of 1850 there seems to be only five family members, three girls and two boys. The oldest child bears the name of Lucy Swearinguin and she is 23 years old, born in 1817. Lucy was born in Ohio. Perhaps she was a family member and had been widowed young.++++
The next child was Minerva, born in 1831 in Illinois. Next is John, seventeen years of age in 1850, born in 1833. A female with the initials L.M. is next, she is twelve years of age and born in 1838. Finally, there is a James, ten years of age born in 1840.
Of this family, only the record of John - as far as the author of The Grandfathers is concerned - is reasonably clear. Of the girls, nothing is known and, of James, there is a discussion pertaining to him in the section; The Halls in the Civil War.
James may have been a victim of one of the cholera epidemics that frequented the area in pioneer times. One or more of the daughters may have met the same fate.
It appears that following her husband's, Eleanor made her home at Athens - she had kin there. Life was surely hard for a widow left with children in the 1850's. How she supported herself is unknown. From the quantities of flour bought by her brother-in-laws, perhaps they were contributing to her welfare.
As for James Hall, only one record for him in Illinois has been found. From the records of the Sangamon County Commissioners, 1828 - 1832, we find that on Tuesday, June 5, 1832 James Hall was summoned to serve on the Petit Jury of the county, Spring term. ++++++ To serve on the jury, we would have to go to Springfield, the county seat.
the life of a villager ….        Descendant, James Hall
John E. Hall
1833 - 1905
To get a line of James' son, John, the only family member about who much is known, we turn to an item in the Athens Free Press issue of July 22, 1932. This is exactly one hundred years after James Hall was called to serve on the jury.
The issue of the newspaper contains the story of the death of Mrs. Laura V. Hall, age 94. + She was the wife of John R. Hall and daughter-in-law of James Hall. Laura Stone was married to John, 26 February 1857. At that date she was 20 years old: John 24. The obituary said her husband had been dead twenty-seven years. That would make 1905 the year of his death.
Her survivors were an adopted daughter and two half-sisters. Several of those present at her services were descendants of Abner Hall, through the Abner Banks Hall - Calvin Francis Hall branch of the family. They had lived neighbors in Athens for many, many years.
A small glimpse into the married life of John R. Hall and Laura, his wife, is gleaned from the Petersburg Observer, Aug. 8, 1880, where under the news from Athens it is learned that 'John Hall had a birthday party for his wife, Mrs. Laura V. Hall.' In addition to the Halls present, we find the names of the Stone, Roberts, Graham, Cantrall, Hargraves, Polk and Dunlap families.
In 1902 John R. Hall bought approximately one acre of land from the Kalb estate on Mill Street in Athens for $200. This became the home place.
It appears that John R. Hall lived the life of a typical small-towner, possibly living in the village with farm interests nearby. The Free Press records: 'On October 9, 1900, John R. Hall took his twin bovines to the Fair but was refused entry because they were not registered.' This was the county fair held annually at Petersburg.
At one time he ran a cider mill. This was an important enough an enterprise to merit notice in the Petersburg Democrat, published at the county seat.
John was a teen-aged boy at the time of his father's death. He and his mother, Eleanor, surely had a hard time of it - but kept the home together. Considering his early handicap he did very well in later life.
Writing many years later, George W. Boyd in his nostalgic column, 'Do you remember?' of the Athens paper, recalled :
"That after a wintery day's outing or work in the open, a group of them (young folks) came by the home of 'Uncle John Hall's and Aunt Laura's home' in Athens to be given an 'oyster supper' from their kitchen." *
This bit of reminiscence ties in with the family tradition that John R. Hall - son of the pioneer James Hall - was a good man. Can more be said!
1838 - 1932
|from Virginia |
|Descendants, Thomas Hall|
1811 - 1893
Wesley Hall was a grandson of Hezekiah Hall, d. 1811, a son of Thomas Hall, who had died in 1815 in Virginia, and was a brother of Abner, Elisha, and James - the Illinois migrants. Wesley Hall, who arrived in Menard county at a later date, sometime after 1840, was a nephew of the Athens group. Wesley settled nearby, in what is known as the Sweetwater community. By age 20 he had left Virginia and was known to have lived in Indiana prior to coming on to Illinois.
His family was as follows:
m. 1 (w) Elizabeth ( ? ** )
(f) Amos Hall, 1836 - 1842
Augustus, Hall 1837 - 1884 ***
m. 2 (w) Nancy Ferguson, 1821 - 1904
(f) Charles W. Hall, 1842 - to Missouri
Bethane J. Hall, 1845 - 1870
John T. Hall 1851 -
Amanda L. Hall, 1853 - 1877
Ann E. Hall (Whitney)1856 - **** to Wash. D.C.
Thos. H. Hall 1857 - to Iowa
Laura F. Hall (Piper) 1860 -
Of this group, John T. Hall, 1851 - became very well known in the Athens area. In 1880 he married Lottie E. Norton of Logan county (immediately north of the Sweetwater area). The Norton family had eleven children, one of which was a Civil Engineer in Mexico. In 1877 the family moved to Larned, Kansas.
John T. Hall was in contact with his kin at Athens, Illinois, principally, James W. Hall and Abner Banks Hall, the second generation in Illinois. J.T. Hall appears voting with them in the elections and in participating in various community activities.
This family appears to be a stable, prosperous group, inter-marrying with the pioneer farm families of the area. Their burials were not at Athens, but at Indian Point and in the Walnut Ridge Cemetery, both in Menard county.
code: (w) = wife      (f) = family.
Note: Wesley Hall is only member of the Thomas Hall, d. 1815, family of which the writer has record.
Descendants of Sarah (Hall) Smith
Other Illinois Migrants
The reader will note that in this section on: Pioneering in Illinois the discussion has been confined to those who came from the east to Illinois and settled in the Menard county area. In looking over the descendants of Hezekiah Hall, d. 1811 who settled in Ohio, it is noted that in the 1840s there was a migration of the children of the early Ohio settlers on westward. Of these, a record of one such family follows:
The Miles Family
Sarah (Hall) Smith's daughter, Elizabeth - called Betsey - In 1822 married Martin Miles, 1800 - 1882. ***** In 1828 they came to Illinois from Lawrence county, Ohio. They landed at Springfield, Illinois. It is not known if they traveled with other Hall kin or not.
They lived in Sangamon county, Illinois for nine years, then they moved to McDonough county in the same state in 1836. They made their home in Eldorado Township which is in the south-eastern corner of that western Illinois county.
Miles was originally from South Carolina and had ancestors in the American Revolution. They were a prosperous farm family and today have many descendants, a number living in Fulton and McDonough counties. Of Martin Miles we know that he was a member of the anti-Mormon Army (militia) of the 1840s. On his death he left a sizeable estate.
Family of Martin and Betsey (Smith) Miles
Charles Miles (Moore b. 1823 d.
Sarah Miles b. 1824 d. 1898
Rossannah Miles (McFadden) b. 1826 d. 1898
Martin Miles, Jr. (Husted) b. 1837 d. 1920
Elizabeth Miles (Keach) b. 1843 d. 1918
Augustus G. Miles b. 1844 d. 1863 ^
Abner Miles died as small child
Mary Anne Miles " " " "
Martha Miles " " " "
(First three children born in Ohio)
Additional genealogical data on this family has been placed in the Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield.
Pioneering in Illinois
Most impressive in the story of the Hall-Overstreet family this Illinois pioneer period (it was brief in Illinois) is the short lives of the three brothers: Abner, Elisha and James Hall. Not one of them reached the age of 60. Life was rugged and conditions were bad, although Athens had doctors from the first, their limited knowledge would be of little help. Surprisingly, there is no record of infant mortality in the Hall-Overstreet clan. There surely must have been many infant deaths - not reported.
There were explanations offered for the early deaths. In Miller's History of Menard county (1905) much is made of the Miasmitc Poison. It is described as a form of bilious and malarial fever, accompanied by the ague and shakes, a very discomforting illness.
The ailment was explained as being caused from decaying vegetation in the swampy Illinois country. (Much drainage was needed to make central Illinois habitable and suitable for cultivation.) The poisonous gases produced, affected the liver producing chills, aches and pains and aggravating the effects of previous illnesses. ^^
Whiskey was drunk in copious quantities - it was the 'tranquilizer' of pioneer Illinois! From the purchase records of Abner and Elisha Hall it is apparent that they subscribed liberally to its use, possibly shortening their lives. The exception being John Overstreet, Sr., who drank up a good deal of his pension money, yet lived to be 88 years old!
Most likely, the shortened lives were the results of many factors: extreme of weather, exposure, poor housing, extra-hard physical labor, poor diets and diseases spread by poor sanitation and contaminated water. ^^^
While it is easy to romanticize about pioneer life, it was actually a hard one and lives were shortened by it. The first medical histories of large groups of these people came with the enlistments in the Civil War. By modern day standards, the sons and grandsons of the Illinois frontier were by and large far from perfect physical specimens. See: Halls in the Civil War.
The reader of this history may wonder if there are any records where family members were together, particularly in the very early days. Well, there are just such records, showing Abner and Elisha in joint activities.
From the early Probate Records of Sangamon county, it is found that at the sale of the personal property of 'Jacob Johnson' deceased, held on May 23, 1827, among the purchasers at the sale were: Elisha and Abner Hall.'
Elisha and Abner Hall were involved in the settlement of the estate of Robert Evans, who died January 12, 1829. The affidavit of the deceased was sworn to by Evans E. Brittin.
The court, however, did not accept the nuncupative will. ^^^^ The widow Adelia Evans asked for her dower rights. The bond for the estate was signed by Elisha Hall, Abner Hall and Evans R. Brittin. Witnesses to the oral Will were Harry Riggin, ^^^^^ Abner and Elisha Hall. The benefactors were wife and mother (not named) and the balance of estate was to have been divided among his brothers and sisters as they came of age. The land of the deceased was sold at public auction November 3, 1832 subject to Adelia Evan's right of dower as widow. Since the nuncupative Will was not recognized by the court, the Evan's estate was treated as though he had died intestate - without a Will.
On March 12, 1829 we find Abner Hall giving affidavit of decease for Abraham Tice. Mary Ann Tice was named widow in the affidavit and Will. The Will dated March 23, 1829 was witnessed by Fleming Hall ^*^, Elisha Hall and Abner Hall. The Will named the widow, two sons and five daughters of Tice. The Tice family in later years was to have some distinguished descendants living at Greenview in Menard county Illinois.
Family members should realize how early these men were in the settlement of the area. The two legal acts cited above were in the first fifty cases probated in Sangamon county, Illinois. These entries also verify the general fact that the family was settled in the area by 1827.
Illinois became a state in 1818. Sangamon county formed in 1821; Menard county 1839. Athens came into existence in 1831. Most of the houses and public buildings were log structures. There were no real roads, only trails. No bridges, streams had to be forded.
Would the three Hall brothers have been better off had they stayed in Virginia? Up to the Civil War, very likely yes. Had they stayed in the South, their outlook and attitudes would have been different and their descendants supporting the CSA. The section: Our Southern Cousins illustrates this assumption.
If Abner Hall's Athens had become a county seat, the town would have developed and perhaps he would have become wealthy because of his property. As it was, the village stagnated and the Hall family fortunes, if any, were based on agricultural land.
For both the southern and northern branches of the family, the Civil War was a disrupting factor, perhaps more so in the South. The War caused broken homes, shattered lives and hardships that took a long time to recover from.
+ Elisha is one of the most common given names in early Hall families, causing some trouble in sorting them out.
++ Exact information on land transactions in files.
+++ 1853 - 1937
++++ The thought is that she was a Swearinguin, assuming that Lucy was a household member, not a daughter. Eleanor lived near the Swearinguin family in Athens. Their migration pattern was similar to that of the Hall families.
++++++ Book C, p. 305.
* Athens Free Press issue of Nov. 1, 1935.
**possibly Eliza Davis m. 29 Dec 1833, Elkhart Co., Ind.
*** See: Halls in the Civil War
**** By her marriage to Dr. C. F. Whitney, Ann E. Hall was marrying a distant cousin. The Whitneys were related to the Hall family by marriage into the Abner Banks Hall - Calvin Francis branch. Whitney a PH.D., was a career executive in the Dept. of Agriculture.
***** Betsey (Smith) Miles, 1804 - 1879, was a daughter of Augustine and Sarah (Hall) Smith, pioneers in Lawrence Co. Ohio. (See: Section on The Westward Migration - the Ohio Years. Also, The Children of Hezekiah and Keziah Hall.)
^ See, Section on: Halls in the Civil War.
^^ Miller is describing Malaria, which is now known to be carried by mosquitoes.
^^^ Refer to previous discussion on the prevalence of Cholera in early Athens, Ill.
^^^^ nuncupative - on oral testimony of non-related parties.
^^^^^ Riggin joined with Abner Hall in a number of ventures, including the platting of and naming Athens, Illinois.
^*^ Member of another pioneer family at Athens, Illinois. Also, from Virginia but no relationship established. In later years, several of his descendants became very important in the community, as property owners and political leaders. The Hall Cemetery at Athens was a gift of Joe Hall, a Fleming Hall descendant. In the early days, the two families differed in politics and participation in the Civil War. Fleming Hall entered the land on which Athens stands from the government, some of which was then obtained from him by the Hall-Overstreet group.