John Hall- Revolutionary Mysteries

I am currently working on a portion of the Henss family and am ‘visiting’ Virginia/ Maryland at the time of the Revolutionary War. The person I am closely examining is a Mister John Hall; his wife is Mary Magdelene Smith. I just love it when the names are so incredibly unique!

So here goes, I have three mysteries!

Please use our Contact page to let me know if you have any firm data or information to help solve these!

Mystery 1

I found a document (located in the National Archives) addressed to ‘some guy’ named George Washington.

The document is transcribed as the following in Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. Published by the Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton:

Sworn to this 27th. day of August 1757 —

BALTIMORE COUNTY SS The Deposition of Thos. Hudson, taken before me the subscriber one of his Lordship’s Justices of the peace for the County aforesd. in the Province of Maryland; who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists declares. That he this Dept. was present with Mr. Nathaniel Gist & John Hall when the said John Hall was going to sign his assent to being Enlisted in his Majesties Service; That the said John hall on taking the Pen in his Hand, said I will not sign for any more than Six months, Upon which said Mr. Gist made answer, Thats what I want; (or thats what I desire) but which of those words this Dept. can’t exactly remember. That Mr. Saml. Owings a Magistrate for this County was then also present; and on the said John Hall going to sign as aforesd.–Said unto the aforesd. Nathl. Gist, this Boy is too Young; to which the said Gist made answer he was the highth of their Standard; and farther Saith not —

… before

A Brief Look at John’s Genealogy

The genealogy I have for John Hall and Mary Magdelene Smith is:

John Hall

  • b:1732 Chester, Pa.
  • d:1794 Bedford, Va.
  • m:1759 Bedford, Va.

Mary Magdelene Smith (wife)

  • b:1734 Bedford, Va.
  • d:1833 Bedford, Va.

My thoughts are that since Baltimore, Maryland is in a straight line between Chester, Pa. and Bedford, Va (and is approximately in the middle), well you get the point; this could be my John Hall.

The real question is: Does anyone have any hard information on this subject? if that were not enough, I also have the following for a John Hall (again any firm data or ideas are most appreciated).

Mystery Two

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 18 March 1, 1781 – August 31, 1781 John Hanson to John Hall

My Dear sir Philadelphia June 4th 1782 I inclose you the two last papers-the Accounts given of the battle in west Indias are upon the whole rather unfavourable yet there are some Circumstances that render their Authenticity some what Doubtful. No official Account is yet come to hand at New York and it is reasonable to suppose if their Account be true that a Communication of a matter of Such Importance, to their Commander in Chief here would not have been so long delayed. There are other favourable Circumstances and I hope for the best, but am afraid the french have received so much damage in the Action, as will prevent the intended Attack on Jamaica at least for a time. An embarkation of Troops at New York is talked of, and a number of Transports it is said are going from thence to take of the Garrison at Charles Town. We hear nothing from Sir Guy. I very Sincerely wish you may Adopt the five per Ct Duty in the manner recommended by Congress, because I think an impost on all imported goods is a mode of Taxation the easiest that can be proposed. The Merchants in the first Instance pay, the people insensibly refund, every man pays in proportion to what he Chuses to Consume. The Extravagant man pays for his folly and the foreigners And strangers Among us are made to Contribute.
I sincerely wish you health and happiness, being my Dear sir, your friend & most humble Servt. John Hanson

RC (MdHi: Gilmor Collection).


Mystery Three

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 5 August 16, 1776 – December 31, 1776- Benjamin Rumsey to John Hall?

Sir (1) Joppa 19th Decr. 1776 Engaged in the Commission and the Business thereof in which we met with great Difficulties & Interruption I never attended Congress till this Day Week and should not then as the Business remained unfinished had I not heard Mr. Tilghman and Mr. Carroll had gone Home and left the Province unrepresented.(2)

When I got into Congress where I came determind to stay ’till the last Extremity, altho exceeding inconvenient to me, I found that Congress had two or three Days before that determined by the Advice of their Generals to remove from thence to Baltimore, Upon a presumption that the Enemy being possessed of the Jersey above by marching Parties opposite the City might make a push in the Night in Conjunction with the Tories and seise the Persons of the Congress, and this might have been done with great Facility as the City Militia had all marched to join General Washington.

The Enemy are posted on the Banks of the Delaware at Trentown and from thence have pushed their parties as low as Burlington and as high as Penny Town. They are commanded by General Howe who has with him it is supposed the whole Brittish Force that can be spared from their Conquests and are thought to amount to about thirteen Thousand Men.
General Washington had not when we came away above 5000 Men with the Junction of the Militia posted on the opposite Banks with forty Peices of Cannon. Genl. Lee was posted about 25 Miles in the Rear of the British Army at a place called Chattam about 3 miles from Morris Town with a large Body of Forces composed of a Detachment from the Northern Army Troops returning from Ticonderoga and encreasing daily with the Jersey Militia Numbers unknown to me but between 5000 and 12,000 from whence he has positive Orders to march and join Genl Washington very injudiciously in my Opinion but the Slowness of the coming in of the Militia in the State of Pennsylvania possibly may justify the Measure.
If the Militia would join Genl. Washington in such Numbers as to make him strong enough in Front to prevent the Enemy’s crossing Delaware and taking Philada. Lee by strong Detachments may cut off all their Supplies and destroy the British Army without striking a Blow or if they decamp expose them to two fires in Front and Rear.

My Colleagues Colo. Contee and Mr. Hanson have just parted from me after finishing our Business as far as we could to lay before your Honours and this in some Measure will account to you for my not writing.

I understood that as the Pennsylvania Militia rather moved slow the Congress had come into a Resolution to request the Militia of our State to march to the Assistance of Genl. Washington. I understood too Col. Ewing undertook voluntarily to bring them up and rode away without any written Orders; my Intelligence was from One of the Officers of our Army. You know Colo. Ewing (I presume the Congress do) and eer this or at their first setting at Baltimore You will receive a written Requisition.

I heard Mr. Chase tell Mr. Robt. Morris that all our sick, the Baggage of the Congress and even Mr. Morris’s Effects which are pretty considerable would be removed with Ease as he had wrote for Vessells to transport them but none were at the Head of Elk as I came by, at least they pressed Colo. Aquila Halls Vessell for that purpose. How Mr. Chase has transacted this whether in a public or private Capacity I cant tell, he can best answer it.

I had just received Orders from the Brigr. Genl. to give my Battallion Notice to hold itself in Readiness (If I am yet a Colo. which I doubt of from Report) and in Letters to the Officers was communicating that Intelligence when the Express brought to me your Letter directed here by the honorable John Hancock Esqr. on his Way to Baltimore. I much approve of your giving the Militia Notice to hold themselves in Readiness but I now tell you that will be totally useless without more, that they are without Arms, Blanketts many of them & Baggage Waggons with a numerous &ca. that ought to be supplied them before or on their March, and that they ought really to be better supplied than other Troops especially at this severe Season. I have advertised the 8th Battallion that if I am still their Colo. I will with the greatest alacrity do myself the Honour to march at their Head if the Province is represented without me.

A Doubt may arise with You respecting the Reason of the Tardiness of Pennsylvania. You know great Part of Philada., Bucks and Chester are Tories and the Councill of Safety of Pennsylvania have cried Wolf, Wolf two or three Times falsly to the back Counties and now the Wolf is really come they think it still a false Alarm. They are distracted too abt. the State of their Governmt., People being of various Opinions about it.
I have opened Mr. Presidents Letter (3) but shall seal and send it by Express to Baltimore to Mr. Chase who I expect by this Time is there. Seamen were much wanted and your Orders in sending the Seamen will be very agreeable to Congress. For if Philadelphia should ever be taken by some Coup de Main of the Enemy, wch. by the by a well manned Frigate will render much more difficult, there being no Ships of the Enemy in Delaware Bay, the Frigates and a great Quantity of Stores may be saved thereby.
You are also requested by me to inform Mr. President that it has not been either with my privity, Consent or Knowledge that Individuals have been applied to, that I am exceedingly sensible it rather tends to delay Business and that he and the whole Board I hope will acquit me of any Design in being Wanting in Respect to the cheif executive Power in the State, the Dignity of which I was always strenuous in supporting while I had the Honour of Seat there and still am ‘tho I have not thot I am (besides my Love for my Country), added to other Motives, actuated- by a Friendship and Esteem for the Individuals of that Board that will always induce me to treat them with the Utmost Respect, Esteem and Regard.
I am Sir, Your most humble Servt. Benjamin Rumsey

RC (MdHi).
1 Perhaps John Hall, vice president of the Maryland Council of Safety. Rumsey obviously directed this letter to a member of the council of safety and in the course of it twice mentions “Mr. President,” Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer.
2 Matthew Tilghman and Charles Carroll, Barrister, are known to have been in Philadelphia as late as December 9, the day they and Samuel Chase requested money for the removal of sick troops to Maryland. Tilghman and Carroll apparently left soon afterward, leaving only Chase and William Paca to represent Maryland, which until February 15, 1777, required the presence of three delegates to cast the state’s vote in Congress. See William Paca to the Maryland Council of Safety, December 7, 1776, note 3; and JCC, 7:111.
3 Probably the council’s December 15 letter to the Maryland delegates. See Md. Archives, 12:530-31.