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The Immigrant Grandfather
The death of William Hall on the first of May, 1757 at the hands of the Cherokee Indians, not only thrust upon John Hall, his oldest son, the responsibility of heading the family but also the settling and managing of his estate.
Many of the old-timers made their Wills on their deathbeds, but in the case of William Hall, death came suddenly and as a consequence he had no Will.
Fortunately, Bedford county which had been organized just three years prior to the fateful Spring of 1757 had established a government capable of handling probate matters. The colonial system of ‘Primogeniture’ automatically made the oldest son, John, recipient of the estate. The county Justices then appointed three citizens to make an inventory and appraisel of the personal property. In this case, the appraisers were men who had been in the fatal skirmish on the banks of the Staunton River.
From the estate of William Hall of Bedford county, Virginia, December 29, 1758 we learn – that he had personal property estimated to be worth 147 pounds, one shilling and nine pence. Fort the times, the place and in a pioneer society this was an appreciable amount of property.
Let’s take a look at it: Here is what he owned exclusive of real estate: these are the things the family used; the livestock they owned; their crops; their tools and household furnishings. It is an intimate glimpse of pioneer life in Virginia in the mid-1700s.
author’s (Carrol Carman Hall) note: We have only incidental information about Wm.’s Real Estate. We know its location and that it was originally Randolph land, purchased through Richard Stith, a Randolph kin and land agent. This information comes from a study of his son John’s land transactions from 1758 – 1794.
AN INVENTORY of the Estate of William Hall, Dec’d, appraised December 29th, 1758. Be we the Subscribers. +
|To||26||Head of Cattle Cur’t Money||20||16||0|
|To||1||Mare & fold||5||10||0|
|To||1||ditto and Harness||12||0||0|
|To||2||Sets of Plow Irons & Clovises||1||7||0|
|To||130||lbs. of Iron||2||1||0|
|To||2||Pair of Dung forks 1 set of fire tongs||5||0|
|To||a||Parcel of Old Iron||6||0|
|To||4||Old Sickles 2 Siths||5||0|
|To||a||Parcel of Carpenters Tools||1||0||0|
|To||lot of Silver||2||12|
|To||a Gilt Trunk||7||0|
|To||5 Dishes 5 Plates 3 Basons 9 Spoons||1||17||0|
|To||3 Knives & forks||7||0|
|To||1||pair of Wool Cards||1||6|
|To||1||Box Iron & 2 Heaters||9||0|
|To||l||Large Chest 1 pair Shears||6||6|
|To||1||Linen Wheal and Hackell||10||6|
|To||11||Small Hogs 1 pr Small Stillars||1||12||0|
|To||1||Juggs Womans Saddle & C Bridle||17||0|
|To||1||Feather Bed & Bolster Bedsted Cord||2||15||0|
|To||2||Bolsters 2 Blanketts 1 Old Bedstick one Bedstead & Cord||3||10||0|
|To||1||Bed Bolster & Rugg 4 Sheet Bedsted Cord||1||10||0|
|To||a||Parcel of Tand Leather||15||0|
|To||3||Pots & four Pair of Hooks||1||1||6|
|To||2||Piggins a Pail a Churn & an Old Tubb||10||0|
|To||1||Claw Hammer & an Old Jugg||3||0|
|To||1||Pair of Wedges & Mauldings||6||0|
|To||a||Pair of Wheals||1||3|
|To||1||Set of Shomakers Tools||7||0|
|To||1||Mare 2 Years old Colt & 1 year old Colt||6||0||0|
|To||3||Hogsheads & a Large Tubb||6||0|
|To||a||Parcel of oats in the Straw||10||0|
|To||a||Parcel of Hemp||12||0|
|To||25||Barrels of Corn||10||0||0|
|To||Hacks & Blades||15||0|
|To||1||pair of Cotton Cards||3||0|
|To||1||Old ? & tea Cups||7||6|
|To||Broken Hemp at ?||2||0|
|To||1||Shote at ?||2||0|
|To||1||1000 lbs of Pork||6||6||6|
|To||150||Weight of Tobacco||1||3||0|
|To||30||pd Treasury Note||147||1||9|
|Due to the Estate of Wm. Bennet||7||0||0|
|Due by Wm Swanson||3||5||0|
- Augustine Leftwhich ++)
- William Verdeman ) Apprs
- John Wheler )
At a Court held for Bedford County, Nov. 26th, 1759 the Inventory & appraisments Annexced were Returned & Ordered to be Record Teste Ben Howard CBC
- Truly Recorded
- Ben Howard CBC
There you have it! A Virginia pioneer’s personal property in the mid-1700s. Note: no slaves. This is what John Hall, d. 1794 inherited. He was not obligated to the younger family members and we do not know if his mother was living — likely not, as she would have the widow’s dower rights, of which we have no record.
In addition, John would inherit the land which became the Hall family base for the next 100 years. He was not clear in this inventory and Appraisement; he had to collect what was owed the estate and what it owed. This took a long time. The estate was not finally settled until 1769 at which time the last of the ‘orphans’ would be of legal age and/or married. There would be a possibility that John might die in the interim. His marriage – the date of which we do not know – may have been delayed because of property matters.
The writer (Carrol Carman Hall) assumes that John and his brother, Hezekiah, managed the property; possibly adding the Mill on Rockcastle Creek.
William Hall – from this estate – cannot be considered a poor man, although he would not be in the class with the Virginia gentry of that period. He would be in the yeoman class, a notch lower in the pecking order. We can only surmise that in migrating from Pennsylvania to Virginia he had to liquidate considerable property to make the move. His son, John, was getting a good start in life and as will be shown later, he proved to be a good manager and was himself a successful man in the standards of the period and in the area of Virginia in which he lived.
As soon as the estate matters were under way, John following the custom of the times had to take careof his younger brothers and sisters. This he did by having them placed in foster homes. So, in 1759 they were classified as ‘orphans’ by court order. The actual obtaining of the homes was done by the church wardens. This indicates that at that point in time, the Hall family were members of the established church that dominated all affairs in the colony of Virginia — the Anglican.
From this 1759 placement of the ‘orphans’ we learn the names of the younger family members. They were:
As in all legal matters, the boys are listed first, presumably in order of their ages; then the girls are listed in order of their ages.
It is likely that John, Hezekiah and several of the younger children were born in Pennsylvania with only the very youngest being born in Virginia. If the mother was not living, she may have died during the last childbirth. +++
This group – what little is known of them – is discussed in Part I of the section titles: Our Southern Cousins, to be found later in this volume.
John would now have to manage alone until he married; but marriage would have to be delayed. So, the author makes a bold assumption at this point. John kept his next oldest brother with him on the home place. That brother was Hezekiah, the ancestor of the Hall-Overstreet family of this history. In turn, John was to aid Hezekiah in his start in life which would be the purchase of the Back Creek property in 1762. They honored each other in the naming of their children.
+ oldest known Hall family document. The author (Carrol Carman Hall) assumes no resposiblity in identifying the articles inventoried or their spelling – nor their present-day value as antiques!
++ Augustine Lefwhich, 1712-1795, of the Va. Militia in the French and Indian Wars was father of Col. Wm Lefwhich, 1737-1820 of the Amer. Revol. – SAR genealogies of Va. Prominent Bedford family.
+++ One family researcher has suggested that Wm’s wife was a member of the Stover (Stovel) family known to have lived in the area of Pennsylvania from which Wm. supposedly migrated.
Use of [the above] Text Material
COPYRIGHT. —the material in Vols. I and II of THE GRANDFATHERS is not copyrighted, except as the term is understood in common law.
Therefore, the reader(s) of these volumes is free to copy, steal and lift for his or her own personal use any of the contents. In fact, the author will feel greatly complimented if by chance anyone would read it and honored if its contents were worth borrowing without pay.
Works such as THE GRANDFATHERS are for personal satisfaction not money — although they are among the most valuable writings that can be left for future generations. They are the true histories of a people.
The material in these volumes was obtained by relentless searching, voluminous correspondence, library haunting, travel, expenditure of money and lifting from others’ works. Most of all, by the graciousness and forebearance of those who were contacted in person or by letter. The greatest factor of all was TIME of which un-godly amounts were used in its composition.
Carrol Carman Hall, Springfield, IL, USA 1981
1. Carrol Carman Hall, “The Grandfathers Hall-Overstreet Families,” The Grandfathers, n.d., http://www.illinoisancestors.org/menard/fam/ho_toc2.html#ACK.