William and Mary (Reed) Hall
Every account of the history of a family has to start somewhere. In our case we begin the story of our Hall family with our earliest clearly-identified Hall family ancestors, William and Mary (Reed) Hall. As in many families, one of the most valuable sources of information about early generations of our Hall family is an old family Bible. An old Hall family Bible provides information about William Hall and his family that could not be found anywhere else. The Hall family Bible once belonged to William Hall's youngest son, and I strongly suspect that it originally belonged to William and Mary (Reed) Hall. In that Bible, the names of William Hall's parents were carefully recorded many years ago as “Thomas and Sarah Hall”.
The family Bible indicates that William Hall was born on December 10, 1811. The same date of birth appears on William's gravestone. Our only sources of information about William’s birthplace are the 1850 Federal census and the mortality schedules of the 1860 Federal census. These records both indicate that William was born in Tennessee.
The Hall family Bible records that William Hall was married to Mary Reed, "daughter of John and Anner Reed". Mary Reed's date of birth is listed in the Bible as October 31, 1811, which also matches the date of birth inscribed on Mary's gravestone. From early census records, we know that Mary Reed, like her husband, was born in Tennessee.
According to the family Bible, William and Mary were married on October 27, 1831. While we have no other record to substantiate the date of their marriage, this date appears reasonable when we consider the ages of William and Mary, and the date of birth of their first child. William and Mary were both nineteen years old when they married.
The Hall family Bible provides some additional information about William Hall's family that is of great value in our effort to accurately and complete document the makeup of the William Hall family. The Bible lists the names and dates of birth of seven children born to William and Mary (Reed) Hall, along with the dates of death of five of those children. Were it not for this old family Bible, we would have no knowledge of two of their children, as they both died young, and it is unlikely that their names were ever recorded on any other document.
Though William Hall and Mary Reed were both born in Tennessee, they were probably married, and started their family, in Jackson County, Alabama. Before they migrated to southern Missouri in 1843, we know that William and Mary (Reed) Hall lived in northwest Jackson County, Alabama, in an area known as the Paint Rock Valley. More specifically, William and Mary made their home on, or near, a small creek called Larkin’s Fork, which flows into the Paint Rock River. We have good reason to believe that William Hall lived on Larkin’s Fork for about ten years before he and Mary Reed were married in 1831. And there can be little doubt that Mary Reed lived with her parents on Larkins’s Fork for at least ten years before she married William Hall.
The earliest written record linking William and Mary (Reed) Hall to the Paint Rock Valley of Jackson County was recorded in December of 1839. Among the early records of private land sales which survived the Jackson County courthouse fires is a deed, signed on December 10, 1839, by which "William Hall and Mary his wife", of Jackson County, sold land to a W. P. Robertson. The land was described as the East half of the South East quarter "except beginning on the Section line at or near the a Sinking Spring, thence in Square direction across the valley so as to imbrace the tilable Land thence to the East corner of said Section of said Section of Section Twenty two in Township two of Range Four East" . . . "containing seventy acres". The 70‑acre tract, which they sold for $432, was located one mile south and one mile east of the current site of the village of Swaim. William signed the deed with his name, and Mary, apparently unable to write her name, made her mark.
The 70‑acre tract William and Mary Hall sold in 1839 was all but ten acres of an 80‑acre tract of public land purchased on August 29, 1831 by Mary Reed’s father, John Reed. This tract appears to be the third of five tracts of public lands that John Reed patented in that vicinity between August of 1830 and November of 1833. John Reed purchased this 80‑acre tract only two months before William Hall and Mary Reed were married. Perhaps John Reed purchased the tract as a gift for Mary and her new groom, William Hall. Or, perhaps, William and Mary Hall purchased the land from Mary's father after she and William were married. Another possibility seems more likely. We suspect that John Reed died in Jackson County in the fall of 1835. The land that William and Mary sold in 1839 may have represented Mary’s share of her father’s estate.
Our second opportunity to identify the residence of William and Mary (Reed) Hall dates back to 1840, when their family appeared in the Federal census records. Recorded nine years after their marriage, that census places William and Mary Hall and their three young daughters (Sarah, Martha, and Rebecca) in Jackson County, Alabama. More specifically, a comparison of the census records with early Jackson County land records indicates that William and Mary were living in the Paint Rock Valley, near the confluence of Larkin’s Fork with the Paint Rock River.
William and Mary Hall migrated from the Paint Rock Valley to Ripley County, Missouri, in 1843. While we don't have an account of the family's journey to Missouri, nor know their route, we can make a few general comments about the trip. A look at an atlas reveals that the area where William and Mary settled in Ripley County is 310 miles west‑northwest of the Paint Rock Valley "as the crow flies". In making the trek, the family probably passed through parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri.