Ralph A. Reed and Mary 'Polly' Hall
Michael A. Landwehr
Mary Hall, daughter of Thomas Hall and Sarah Mily Williams, was probably born in Tennessee about 1814 or 1815. I have found very few sources which mention Mary (Hall) Reed by name. Mary is listed in Sarah Literal’s notebooks as Polly Hall, a daughter of Thomas and Sarah Mily (Williams) Hall. In the 19th century, “Polly” was a common nickname for women named Mary. Mary was also listed with her husband in the 1850 census of Washington County, Arkansas. The absence of any other records referring to Mary Hall by name is an indication of how little we know about her.
I feel confident that Mary Hall was one of the unnamed occupants of her mother’s household in the 1830 census of Jackson County, Alabama. The family was living on Larkin’s Fork, in northwest Jackson County. During the 1830’s, Mary was married to Ralph A. Reed, son of John Reed and Hannah Shipman, who also resided on Larkin’s Fork.
From census records, we have evidence that Ralph and Mary had a daughter, born between 1830 and 1835. In January of 1836, a son, John W. Reed, was born to the couple in Jackson County. And, in 1837 or 1838, they had a daughter, whom they named Lydia.
Our first record of the Ralph and Mary (Hall) Reed family appears in the 1840 census of Jackson County. The Ralph Reed household consisted of one male aged 20-29 (Ralph), one female 20-29 (Mary), one female 5-9 years of age (probably an unidentified daughter), one male under five years of age (probably John W.) and one female under five years of age (probably Lydia).
If we assume that the unidentified daughter mentioned above was the first child born to Ralph and Mary, and that John was their second child, we can speculate that the unidentified daughter was probably born about 1834, and that Ralph Reed and Mary Hall were probably married about 1833.
If our estimate of the date of their marriage is accurate, Ralph and Mary would have both been approximately 19 years old when they married. Based on what we know of their parents’ residence at that time, I would seem likely that Ralph and Mary were married in Jackson County.
We know, from the 1840 census, that Ralph and Mary were still in Jackson County in 1840. Census records suggest that a daughter, Celia Ann Reed, was born in Alabama in 1840 or 1841. The family must have migrated to Missouri soon after Celia’s birth, as their next child, Cynthia E. Reed, was born in Missouri in 1842 or 1843. Then, sometime after Cynthia’s birth, the family moved from Missouri to Arkansas, where a son, William, was born in September of 1848.
After their move from Missouri, we don’t know whether Ralph and Mary initially settled in Washington County, Arkansas, but we do know that they were in Washington County by 1849. The 1849 tax rolls for Washington County include an entry for Ralph Reed. Ralph was assessed $.50 for a county poll tax. The records suggest that Ralph owned no land, no slaves, no horses, mules, or cattle, and no other taxable personal property.
In December of 1850, Ralph and Mary Reed were listed in the census in Prairie Township of Washington County, Arkansas, living “next door” to the family of John L. and Elizabeth (Hall) Reed. John L. Reed and Ralph Reed were brothers, and Elizabeth (Hall) Reed and Mary (Hall) Reed were sisters. The 1850 census record for the Ralph Reed family included the following family members:
Name Age Birthplace Occupation Value of real estate
Ralph Reed 37 Tennessee Farmer None
Mary 35 Tennessee
John 14 Alabama
Lydia 13 Alabama
Celia 10 Alabama
Cyntha 9 Missouri
William 2 Arkansas
We have no record of the Ralph Reed and Mary Hall family during the decade of the 1850’s. From the 1860 census records, we can deduce that Ralph and Mary had a daughter, Elizabeth, born in Arkansas in 1850, and a younger daughter, Mary A. Reed, who was born in Missouri. Census records do not provide consistent information about Mary’s age, and, therefore, about her date of birth. The 1860 census suggests that she was born in 1851 or 1852, while the 1880 census suggests that she was born in 1854 or 1855. The 1900 census indicates that she was born in February of 1857, and the 1910 census suggests a date of birth in 1852 or 1853. All indicate that she was born in Missouri.
We don’t know where the family was living in Missouri when Mary A. Reed was born, but they may have been in Barry County. While Ralph and Mary could have initially settled somewhere other than Barry County when they moved their family to Missouri, I suspect that their daughter, Lydia, was married in Barry County approximately 1854. We know that their son, John W., arrived in Barry County about 1855, and we suspect that John was married in Barry County about 1858. Based on evidence available at this point, I would guess that Ralph and Mary settled in Barry County between 1850 and 1852, and that Mary died in Barry County.
We know that Ralph Reed and his five youngest children were living in Flat Creek Township, in Barry County, when the census was enumerated in August of 1860. I believe that Flat Creek Township consisted of the area surrounding the county seat of Cassville. Ralph valued his personal property at $75. He did not own any land.
Ralph's wife, Mary, is missing from the Reed household in the 1860 census. Ralph’s two eldest children, John and Lydia, were both living with their spouses in White River Township, in southeastern Barry County. The absence of Ralph’s wife from the household in the 1860 census strongly suggests that she died sometime after the birth of their youngest daughter, Mary, and before the 1860 census was enumerated. Mary was probably in her late 30’s when Mary was born. One could argue that the absence of any younger children in the family suggests that Mary (Hall) Reed died relatively soon after her daughter Mary’s birth. However, at this point, we really don’t have any good clues to the date of Mary (Hall) Reed’s death. We can only assume that it is likely that she died in Barry County.
We have not been able to locate Ralph Reed in the 1870 census. Ralph’s eldest son, John W., was living in Christian County, Missouri, in 1870, but Ralph was not living with John. Ralph’s daughter, Lydia, died during the 1860’s. We don’t know what happened to Celia or Cyntha after 1860. We believe that Ralph’s son, William, was married about 1869, and was living in Boone County, Arkansas, in 1870. But Ralph was not with William. We don’t know what happened to Elizabeth after 1860. And we suspect that Ralph’s youngest daughter, Mary, was living with Ralph in 1870. It is possible that Celia and/or Cyntha and/or Elizabeth was married during the 1860’s, and that Ralph and his daughter, Mary, were living with the family of one of these three missing daughters in 1870.
Ralph reappears in Martin Township of Pope County, Arkansas, in the 1880 census. In June of 1880, Ralph was living with the family of his son-in-law and daughter, Henry and Mary A. (Reed) Foster. The Henry Foster household was separated by only one household from that of a William Reed, whom I believe to be Ralph and Mary Reed's son, and Mary (Reed) Foster’s brother.
A later census record suggests that Henry Foster and Mary Reed were married about 1873-74. If we knew where they were married, that information might provide a clue as to the whereabouts of Mary’s father, Ralph Reed, in the early 1870’s. Unfortunately, we don’t know where Henry and Mary were married. We only know that Henry Foster was living with his mother in Madison County, Arkansas, in 1870.
In June of 1900, Henry and Mary Foster were enumerated in the census of Richland Township, in Searcy County, Arkansas. Searcy County is located immediately northeast of Pope County, where the couple was living in 1880. Mary’s father, Ralph Reed, was no longer a member of the household. We don’t know when or where Ralph Reed died, or where he is buried. I think it is likely that he continued to live with the Henry Foster after the 1880 census, and that he died between 1880 and 1900. But, little is known about where the Henry Foster family lived between 1880 and 1900. For now, we can only say that Ralph A. Reed died sometime after June 1 of 1880.
NOTE TO READERS: This biographical sketch was last revised in September of 2011. If you are interested in updates to this information, have questions about the content, or can add anything to the material provided by this sketch, please contact me at email@example.com.