Abigail “Nabby” Hall (1792-1874), Pioneer Settler in “Little Fort,” 52 Ancestors #117

Finding Nabby’s first name, at least her nickname, was easy, deceptively easy as it turns out.  Her nickname was recorded on her daughter’s birth record in 1815 in Bristol, Vermont.  However, at that time, we didn’t know for sure that it was a nickname, although I suspected.

Rachel Hill birth

Finding Nabby’s real name and her surname was anything but easy. What’s even worse is that I had a hunch about the surname, followed it, and was entirely wrong.  Yep, so I sent myself on a wild goose chase right down a rat hole.  Let me explain…

My ancestor, Curtis Benjamin Lore, known as “C.B.” Lore, was born in 1856 to Nabby’s daughter, Rachel Levina Hill Lore. He named a daughter by his second wife Curtis Lore, and he named a son by his first wife John Curtis Lore.  Given the repeat nature of this name in the family, and given that Curtis’s father was Antoine Lore, an Acadian Canadian with no Curtis in that line, my reasoning was that the name “Curtis” had to originate with Curtis’s mother, Rachel Hill, and given his attachment to a name he never used, it had to be a family name, perhaps Rachel’s mother’s surname.  Rachel’s mother was Nabby. This all made sense.

Given that I had checked all of the normal resources for Nabby (also spelled Naby) Hill’s surname, and had come up entirely empty handed, I figured that the search for Curtis families in Addison County, Vermont seemed reasonable. It was reasonable, it’s just that it was also wrong.  I still think it’s a family name, but it was not Nabby’s surname, as I later discovered.

On the other hand, a cousin, William, had a theory about Nabby’s surname, that I thought was very far-reaching – but as it turned out, he was right.  I’m just glad one of us was right, and truthfully, I didn’t care which one.  More about that later.

I did know a few more things about Nabby that helped track her family.

She was born in Connecticut, according to the 1850, 1860 and the 1870 census. That’s three confirmations of her birth in a state where she was not living, so mistaken ditto marks are not a factor.

We know from those same census records as well as her obituary that Nabby was born in the early 1790s. As it turns out, 1792.

This means that Nabby was probably not married to Joseph HIll before 1812 or so, and perhaps slightly later, and Rachel may have been her first child, or maybe her second.

We know that Nabby and Joseph Hill were still living in Addison County in 1831 when daughter Rachel married Antoine Lord/Lore who in the US became known as Anthony Lore.

Joseph Hill was shown in the 1820 census records living in Starksboro, VT with his wife, plus 1 young male and one young female under the age of 10. In addition, there is an unknown male age 16-26 who is too old to be the child of Joseph and Nabby.

By 1830, we have two additional Joseph Hills in Addison County of about the same age, so I reconstructed the various families, and by process of elimination of the other families, in 1830, Nabby had the following children according to the census:

  • Rachel Levina b 1814/1815
  • Female born 1821-1824
  • Lucia born 1827
  • Female born 1826-1830
  • Male born 1821-1824
  • Male born 1821-1824
  • Male born 1816-1820

Shifting this to a chronological view, and adding additional information, we have the following:

1814-1815 – Rachel Levina HIll

  • 1816-1820 – male child
  • 1821-1824 – female child
  • 1821-1824 – male child
  • 1821-1824 – male child
  • 1827 – Lucia P. Hill
  • 1826-1830 – female child
  • 1831 – ?
  • 1833 – ?
  • 1835 – ?
  • 1836-1837 – Rollin C. Hill

We also know from the 1850 census that Nabby had a son, Rollin, born in about 1837, so I’ve added him to the list above.

Given that Nabby had Rollin in about 1837, she very likely had other children between 1830 and 1837, probably 2 or 3.

I can’t find Nabby and Joseph in 1840, so by 1850, it’s likely that most of their children born before 1830 are on their own. Only Lucia and Rollin are living with them in the 1850 census.  This means that other than my ancestor Rachel, their other children remain “lost,” at least for now.  Perhaps several died, in particular, any children born after 1830 and before Rollin, given that they aren’t shown in the 1850 census, although some could have been 18 or 20 so technically old enough to be on their own.  I have tracked the parents for all Hill marriages pre-1850 in Lake County – and they don’t track to Joseph and Nabby Hill as parents.

The process of finding, identifying and tracking Nabby and Joseph was not trivial, and involved at least one “gift” of extremely good luck that sent me from Addison County, Vermont to Waukegan, Illinois, a leap I would never had otherwise made. I detailed this process and journey in Joseph Hill’s article.

At this point though, in my search for Nabby and the identity of her parents, I had data, but I still didn’t really know much about her and what her life was like. I still don’t even know the names of half of her children.  I know she had at least 8, probably more like 11, but I can only identify 3.

Let’s see if we can get to know Nabby a bit better.

Starksboro, Vermont

We know that Nabby was born in Connecticut, but we didn’t initially know where. Our first record of Nabby is found in Addison County, and we know from the town historian, Bertha Hanson that the Hill families lived in an area called Hillsboro, just to the east of the main village of Starksboro.

Often you can verify information like this via where early people with that surname are buried using Find-A-Grave and sometimes you can also find a cemetery associated with a particular surname. In this case, there were two cemeteries with Hill burials, both near Hillsboro, one named the Mason-Hill Cemetery.

First of all, Starksboro isn’t a village like I think of villages. Addison County is mountainous and the roads snake one at a time through the valleys that are passable.

The village of Starksboro where Nabby’s daughter Rachel was married is really only a location in a valley on the road where a few houses were built.  Bristol where Rachel was born is a little larger, but not a lot.  Where I grew up, we would have classified them as “wide spots in the road.”  The surrounding area that would normally be called a township elsewhere is still part of the “town” in Vermont, so the towns include a lot of undeveloped and originally unsettled land.

Here’s a satellite view of Bristol today. Bristol grew up on the banks of the New Haven River, harnessing river power for saw mills.

Bristol, VT

Route 116 connects Bristol with Starksboro. The Green Mountains lie to the east and farmland lies between Bristol and Lake Champlain about 15 miles to the west.

Bristol and Starksboro

I found a goldmine of old photos at the University of Vermont, among them this topographical map of Bristol and Starksboro. The history of Bristol tells us that it was settled mainly with families from Connecticut and among them we find Nabby’s father – after we figured out who he was of course.  By the year 1800, Nabby, then age 8, was living in Bristol among 97 families totaling 665 people.  Her own family consisted of 2 males under the age of 10, 4 females under the age of 10, plus her parents.  I bet that was one noisy household.

Bristol 1910 topo

Date:

1910

Description:

Topographical map of Bristol done about 1910 showing all the streets in the village and town with locations of buildings existing at the time.

Road 116 is considered the border between Starksboro and Bristol, although it actually connects them.

Starksboro map

The picture below is of the actual village of Starksboro itself in 1950 or 1960 and as you can see, the village itself is very small. You can imagine how much smaller it was in the early 1800s. The Meeting House, with the cupola, built in 1840, in shown in the lower right area.

Starksboro 1950 aerial

Date:

1950 – 1960

Description:

The historic image shows a dirt road with electric lines traveling through town. Gardens are visible between houses and a school building (or church) in the lower, right corner of the photograph. There are more gardens, a barn, a silo, houses, a two-story industrial or commercial building (lumber mill?) and several stacks of lumber in the lower left corner. There is a church in the center of the photograph. There is a set of farm buildings and farm machinery just past the church. The landscape on the left side of the photograph has been cleared and is used for field crops and pastures. There are more farm buildings, houses, and gardens at the top of the image. It looks like summer. Esther Munroe Swift writes on 2005-4-12: Despite minor damage to this image, it is by far one of the best aerial views in the collection. Not only do the buildings show clearly, the terrain, trees and crop plantings also are clearly defined.

Hillsboro road

Thanks to cousin Rick Norton, we have a photo of Hillsboro Road, today, in a location where he says it’s in good condition as compared to the rest of the road.  Samuel Hill, a brother to Nabby’s husband Joseph, built a mill another mile and a half on up this road at Twin Bridges in about 1805.

Addison County was founded upon the lumber industry. People cut lumber, worked lumber and sold lumber.  There wasn’t much else you could do, because there was little flat area and it couldn’t be farmed until it was logged, if then.

Starksboro was first settled in 1787 and by 1800 there was a sawmill, 71 residences and 359 people, according to the census. Lumber was the big industry and probably the only industry for a very long time.

Starksboro lumber

There were several lumber mills in Starksboro and surrounding area. Starksboro had a shingle factory in 1840 which produced shingles from Hemlock. Nabby’s husband, Joseph listed himself in 1850 in Waukegan, Illinois as a shinglemaker.

According to the Town Report, Starksboro had 40 residents in 1791, about the time Nabby was born, and 1263 in 1840 by the time she and Joseph had already climbed into their wagon and set out for the wide open west. I guess the town must have gotten too crowded!  It’s not much larger today.  In 2010 the population was 1777 and 5.3 miles of road are paved, with 42 remaining unpaved.  Nabby would probably recognize it.

What did Starksboro look like? The camera was not in used until about the time of the Civil War, and not in wide use until the 1880s.  However, it doesn’t seem like Starksboro changed rapidly, so let’s see what we can find.

One of the old photos I found was the Hill farm. There were several Hill males that settled in this area, so this is most likely not Joseph’s farm, but we really don’t know, and it was assuredly the farm of a relative.

Starksboro Hill farm

Date:

1890 – 1950

Description:

A caption at the bottom of the historic image reads, “Elmwood Farm, Starksboro, VT — Hill and Miles Prop.” The image shows silos and barns near a farmhouse. A small stream passes through the lower, left corner of the image. There are scrap piles near the silos and a stonewall uphill of the scrap piles. There is a forested hill in the background of the image. Esther Munroe Swift writes on 2005-4-12: Hamilton Childs Gazetteer & Business Directory for Addison County c.1882 lists 19 members

Starksboro, Hill store on left

Cousin Rick tells us that this picture of Starksboro in 2012 includes an old store that was run by a Hill family member at one time, on the left.

I think Rick’s picture below looks like a Normal Rockwell type of painting.  Thank you to cousin John Burbank for photoshopping out the poles and wires.

Starksboro look toward village 116 and Hillsboro rd crop

Moving on down the road a bit to the south, Rick took this picture of Starksboro from the intersection of 116 and Hillsboro Road.  Nabby would have been very familiar with this land and with Lewis Creek, below.

Starksboro covered bridge

Date:

1887

Description:

This black and white photograph depicts an elderly gentleman fishing in Lewis Creek just below a covered bridge. The covered bridge is set on a stone foundation. The man fishing is standing on a rock outcrop along the water. Both banks of the creek are grassy and dotted with deciduous trees. On either side of the frame, the edges of wooden framed buildings are visible.

Lewis Creek runs through Starksboro and alongside Hillsboro Road.

Hillsboro road looking at hill where Hills settled

Cousin Rick turned the corner and took a picture of the Hill hill overlooking Starksboro where the Hills first settled.  Say that 10 times fast.

I was putting myself in Nabby’s shoes, looking back at these black and white photos of yesteryear, trying to put myself in her place back in a black and white existence when she married, just over 200 years ago. I was happily browsing photos, when I got extremely lucky.  I noticed that a property was for sale on Brown Hill Road.  Yes, that’s the location of one of the Hill Cemeteries, in the area where the Hill family lived, so I had to google the location.

Here’s what the realtor has to say:

Highland Farm is the classic Vermont Hill Farm on 256 acres of ponds, streams, fields, woodlands and highlights some of the best views of the Green Mountains. Full-on views of Camels Hump and the Appalachian Gap with a swimming pond in the foreground, a 10,000 tap sugar bush, a mobile home and a separate apartment in the large Post and Beam barn. Highland Farm is the ideal in Vermont Hill Farm retreats.

  •     256 +/- Acres of Classic Vermont Hill Farm
  •     End-of-the-road privacy
  •     Full-on views of Camels Hump, the Green Mountains and the Appalachian Gap
  •     10,000 tap sugarbush (possibly more)
  •     Over 175 acres of managed woodlands and approximately 60 acres of open fields
  •     A nice combination of open, sloping southeasterly facing fields fenced for livestock
  •     Two swimming ponds, one with covered deck
  •     Post & Beam barn with a one bedroom apartment
  •     Two 4-bay storage barns and two ponds
  •     An active brook with waterfalls runs through the property

See more at: http://www.landvest.com/property/22275752/75-brown-hill-east-road-starksboro-vt-05462#sthash.WeHFDZMU.dpuf

So, let’s see what the countryside Nabby would have seen outside her window everyday looks like.

Mason Hill 13 Mason Hill 12 Mason HIll 11 Mason Hill 10 Mason Hill 9 Mason Hill 8 Mason Hill 7 Mason Hill 6 Mason Hill 5 Mason Hill 4 Mason Hill 3 Mason Hill 2 Mason Hill 1

I’m telling you what, I don’t want to buy the place, but I assuredly want to rent it for a couple of weeks.  I wonder if it’s vacant???

There are just no words to describe some levels of majesty and beauty. The only thing I can think of to say is “breathtaking.”

I truly look at this and wonder how one could ever leave. Then I remember the backbreaking physical work of the lumbermen, and perhaps that is why Nabby and Joseph left.  Maybe its remoteness only looks enticing today because it’s a quick car ride to town, to obtain food, and one doesn’t have to hunt the food, kill it, skin it, cook it, or go hungry.  Neighbors, and assistance, are a phone call away and not miles through deep snow.  Maybe flat land would have been preferable because it’s farmable and those beautiful mountains only represented obstacles and challenges to our ancestors.  Maybe by 1840, when Joseph would have been about 50 years old, he was old and tired and wasn’t able to do lumbering anymore.  Maybe he had hurt himself, or just worn himself out over the years.  Maybe the westward bug was catching.  Maybe they knew it was now or never, and decided it was now.

How Nabby must have cried as they left, leaving everything and everyone that she knew behind, including her aged father whom she knew she would never see again.

And what about Nabby’s children? By 1840, her children had been marrying since 1831.  How many living children did Nabby leave behind?  How many are buried in small unmarked graves in a clearing in one of the two Hill cemeteries?  Did she visit them all one last time?

We don’t know exactly when they left, but Rollin consistently gives his birth location as New York in 1836/1837 from 1860-1910, 5 different census enumerations. The only one that is different is the 1850 census, where his parents would have provided the information, and they say Rollin was born in Vermont.

Oswego, NY to Little Fort, Illinois

Nabby spent a few years in Oswego, New York after leaving Vermont and before moving on to Little Fort, Illinois, later renamed Waukegan.  Nabby’s obituary says they arrived in 1842, which seems likely to be accurate.  They arrived sometime before her daughter, Lucia, married Henry Weaver in Waukegan on November 8, 1844, which, ironically is the same day Joseph and Nabby purchased a lot in Little Fort.  There must have been some celebrating going on that day!  Everyone would have been happy!

We don’t know how Joseph and Nabby arrived in either Oswego or Little Fort, but there is at least a possibility that they took the Erie Canal, completed in 1825, and joiner canals at least as far as Lake Erie and from there steamers around Michigan to Little Fort, Illinois. That would have been the long way, but it might have been preferable to going by wagon.

The map below shows the canal system in New York and connecting the regions around lakes Ontario and Erie.

NY Erie Canal

It’s also possible that they took a steamer the entire distance from Oswego to Little Fort. On the other hand, perhaps they took water as far as Toledo and switched to wagon to cross across the top of Ohio and Indiana to Chicago where they rounded the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan.  I wish we knew and if they had a steamer trunk for their trip, I surely wish I had that today.  I can’t imagine packing all of my family’s worldly belongings in trunks or a wagon and heading west.  The only good news by that time would have been that Nabby wasn’t pregnant like so many pioneer women who bounced around in those old wagons.

I can’t imagine that Nabby was looking forward to this trip, or setting up housekeeping all over again at age 50 or so. I wonder if she was fearful or resigned, or maybe a different mix of emotions.

When Nabby and Joseph with however many children they had in tow arrived in Waukegan, it was named Little Fort, and it was little, about 150 people. I don’t know if that number included children or not, but if it did not, that’s still only 75 couples or roughly 75 houses.  It that number included children, there were maybe 15 or 20 households.

Little Fort was a trading post, initially with the Potawatomie Indians – in fact it was the Indians who originally lived where “Little Fort” was established until 1829 when they ceded the land. Little Fort remained a trading town however, first fur trading, then shipping products to Chicago and other locations.  Little Fort was growing rapidly, however, with many new settlers and by 1849 it boasted 2500 residents. Not being “little” anymore, it was renamed Waukegan, the Potawatomie word for “fort” or “trading post.”  So, ironically, Waukenan went from an English word to a Native word for the same thing signifying “progress.”

Nabby and Joseph purchased land in the original town of Little Fort in November 8, 1844, lot 2 on block 39 from Elmsley and Sarah Sunderlin recorded in Deed Book C page 233.

Joseph Hill Little Fort Deed

When I visited in 2009, I obtained a plat map of the City of Waukegan created in 1861. This has been an extremely useful tool, several times.

Little Fort 1861

My 1861 plat map saved me once again, because the original blocks were numbered. On the section of the map below, the original Little Fort is to the right of the dotted line, and block 39 is shown below with the red arrow.  You can see 38 above it and 40 below.  The left half, on the other side of the dotted line is an addition to “Little Fort” at a later time and numbered within that addition.  Of course, since the lot was lot 2 block 39 and sold to them by Sunderlin, now I’m wondering if Joseph and Nabby owned the second “half” of this lot in the Sunderlin addition on the left side of the dotted line.

Little Fort 1861 Lot 39

Today, this property would be on the south side of Lake Street between County and Genessee. I doubt that either of these homes are original to the 1840s.

Little Fort Lot 39 Lake Street

Below is the view today from the Belvidere side.

Little Fort Lot 39 Belvidere side

And the County Street side.

Little fort lot 39 County street side

I’m sure this block probably looks nothing like it looked initially.  I wonder if anything is original to that timeframe.

Little Fort block 39

Regardless of exactly where they lived on this block, it’s fun to see it in context with the rest of the area.

Little Fort block 39 larger

Their “block” is marked with the grey pin above. In essence they were about 2 blocks from the public square and a couple blocks from the waterfront, the perfect location for everything in the small 1840s trading post town.

This drawing of Little Fort isn’t wonderful, but it’s all we have of that timeframe.  Those are pretty substantial docks.

Little Fort, Illinois

Nabby and Joseph lived in this area the rest of their lives. We know very little about Nabby except through Joseph and the census, with only one exception.

In the fall of 1846, Joseph and Nabby took what I believe is a mortgage on this property. Perhaps they were building a house.  The document is in poor condition, but the County Registrar’s office has this transaction labeled as a mortgage, not a sale.  Truthfully, I don’t care what it is because it tells me that Nabby’s name is Abigail, something I had long suspected but never been able to prove.

Little Fort lot 39 mortgage

It also tells me one other thing, both Nabby and Joseph can write. These are not their actual signatures, they are versions “sealed” by the clerk, but the fact that Nabby’s doesn’t have an “X” with “her mark” tells me she knows how to write so, someplace, she had some education.

Little Fort Lot 39 mortgage 2

We’re fortunate that Nabby had an obituary when she died in 1874. Joseph, three years earlier in 1871 only had a death announcement.

Nabby HIll obit

I was still disappointed to discover that there was no birth name for Nabby, but now I know she was Methodist. Better yet, because of the 1861 map once again, I know where the Methodist Church was located.

Little Fort Methodist church

The First United Methodist Church stills stands there today, at the intersection of Martin Luther King, formerly Utica Street, and Clayton Street. Obviously this building has been expanded over the years, but this is where Nabby attended church.

Little Fort Methodist church today

If any of the old church remains, it’s likely this center section on the Clayton side, based on the map and the building itself.  The “Bazaar” banner hangs under the window in the old part of the church.

Little Fort Methodist church original

This Christmas Eve service inside the historic part of the church today is different, I’m sure than when Nabby attended, but this was the very same place she prayed and likely where her funeral was held, 142 years ago. I wonder if she sang in the choir.

Little Fort Methodist church inside

Nabby’s history gets a little fuzzy between the year of the mortgage in 1846 and her death. In 1850, the census shows Joseph and Nabby as owning $200 of property.  That’s less than some, more than others.  Interestingly enough, they live beside the “brewer” who owns $1000 worth of property, which was a lot by comparison.

1850 Waukegan census

The 1850s would have been a time of change for Nabby. Rollin, her last child at home married in about 1853 or 1854.  Nabby had already buried her daughter, Lucia’s, first child in 1846 when he was just a few days over 4 months old.  Lucia’s husband died on August 13, 1854 and just 2 months later, on October 12th, Lucia’s youngest son died as well.  Without a husband and with 3 children under the age of 6, you know that Nabby was surely quite involved with helping Lucia and her grandchildren.

Given that daughter Rachel was in Pennsylvania, Nabby would have been unaware of her trials and tribulations, unless she was kept informed by letter. Regardless, there was nothing Nabby could do to help Rachel, so far away.

The 1860 census shows Joseph and Nabby with no property, which begs the question of whether the census was incorrect or if they had somehow lost or sold their property – neither of which is reflected in the deeds.

Waukegan 1860 census

The 1870 census, if this is the right couple, shows them living about 35 miles away in neighboring Cook County, with Joseph at age 79 still working as a laborer.

1870 joseph hill

I could have found the wrong couple in 1870, as the surname is spelled unusually, but it seems unlikely to have two Joseph and Nabby’s of the same age with her being from Connecticut, living in Illinois. There is no sign of them in Waukegan in 1870.

Nabby was probably unaware of the Hell that daughter Rachel was living in Pennsylvania. Several of Rachel’s children died, along with her husband, Anthony Lore in the 1860s, followed by more children’s deaths and then her own between 1870 and 1880.  We don’t know if Rachel died before Nabby or after.

Joseph Hill died less than a year after the 1870 census, on March 16th, 1871 with the local paper saying he was 80 years and 6 months old, which would correlate exactly with age 79 in the census the year before.

I have to wonder, what happened to the land-owing American dream that Joseph and Nabby obviously held at one time. What happened to their property?  Where did Nabby live when she died?

The Lake County Historical Society has been extremely helpful. They have an 1874 City Directory that listed Mrs. L. W. Weaver, widow, who would be Lucia Weaver, Nabby’s daughter.  Her address was given as “living the south side of Julian, two doors east of Utica.”  Houses didn’t have numbers yet at that time.  It’s amazing that we’ve gone from houses without numbers in the 1870s to seeing the location “virtually” today, both by satellite and via Google Street View.

That location tidbit was all I needed and off I flew to Google Maps, the genealogists friend – except there were a couple minor snafus this time.

I knew where Julian Street was located, but Utica was on the south side of the city running parallel with Julian. Those two streets don’t, didn’t and never had intersected.  What was going on?

I referred back to my 1861 map of Waukegan, and sure enough, the street names have changed.  Some streets that used to be through streets aren’t any longer.

On the map below, you can see the area today on the left and that section from the 1861 map on the right. Utica has been changed to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Little Fort Lucia street change

The location of Lucia Weaver’s house where Nabby lived her last few years is shown with the top red arrow in both.

Waukegan Lucia Weaver

On this enlarged version of this map (north is right), I can easily see the actual house location, which means I can then go to Google Maps and see if the house is still standing. We’re in luck, it is.  You can see all 5 houses in this photo on Julian between Martin Luther King (Utica) and County Street.

You might notice that this looks a bit different than the hand drawing. Hmmmm…..

Waukegan Lucia WEaver today

Is the second house then the second house from the right, today?

According to realtor records, discovered by googling, house number 315, the second house from the right, was built in 1901. House number 313 was, next door, was built in 1900.  The yellow house, 311, is also a possibility, but I could not determine when it was built.  However, looking at the 1861 map, I’m not all sure the yellow house is in the correct location on the lots, so while this IS the location, none of the houses may be original to the time when Nabby would have been living here with daughter Lucia.  I wonder if prior to 1900/1901 there was one house where there are now two, 313 and 315, today.

According to Peterson Funeral Home records, we know the following about Nabby’s death:

  • Age 82
  • Died of old age
  • Died Sept 30, 1874
  • Buried at Oakwood, nothing more listed
  • Book A Sept 30 1874

Nabby is buried in an unmarked grave in Section 23, Lot 10 of the Oakwood Cemetery, likely beside Joseph, probably beside the Weaver plot where Lucia, her husband Henry, and son Wallace are buried. The local Historical Society volunteer, Ann, was extremely helpful to me both before the visit and in terms of helping me find the graves.

Waukegan Oakwood

Volunteers are wonderful. What would we do without them and their giving spirit.  Ann met me at the cemetery to be sure I found the graves and brought me some historical goodies too…like Nabby’s obituary!

Oakwood Waukegan Ann and me

Stuck in the Mud

Now, it’s 2009. I’ve been searching for Nabby’s surname for years and I’ve overturned every rock I can think of to overturn.  There are just no records left, or at least I don’t think there are – and I’m stuck.  Seriously stuck, mired in the mud and never going to get out stuck.

I know all about that. I did it to a tractor once, Ok, twice…but that’s another story entirely.  After that, every time there was any mud anyplace near me my mother had to point it out – for years – actually for the rest of her life.

“Watch that mud over there.”

“Mom, it’s a mud puddle an inch deep on pavement in a parking lot.”

“Well, Ok, but I just wanted to be sure you saw it.”

Thank you so much mother:)

Desperation Sets In

I really didn’t think anyone knew Nabby’s surname, but then again, Nabby died in 1874, not so long ago that a descendant might not have a Bible, a paper, something. I was actually hoping for one of those unknown children to pop up with an obituary, a death certificate, a Bible, something to identify Nabby’s parents.

I set about to salt and pepper with breadcrumbs everyplace – rootsweb lists, boards, checking GenForum and last of all, as much as it pains me to say, I checked Ancestry for Nabby’s surname. Now, in my defense, I didn’t want to just adopt a surname and hook it on my tree, I was searching for information, hints, anything of use.

I did find something quite interesting. Here’s what I posted on the rootsweb lists:

“I recently found a tree at Ancestry, with no documents, that says that Nabby’s parents were Gershom Hall and Dorcas Richardson of Addison County, Vermont. I tried to contact the tree owner with no luck.  Does anyone have any information about the Hall family and if they had a daughter, Nabby (or Abigail) who married a Joseph Hill?  Did Gershom Hall have a will of any sort that might name his children?  Any help is gratefully appreciated.”

Truthfully, I didn’t think there was a snowball’s chance in hades that this was accurate, but it was the one and only lead I had.

William Wheeler, a cousin who descends from Lucia that I didn’t know previously, answered me and he said that he felt there was evidence to support this Hall connection, provided as follows:

  • Gershom Hall Jr. & Dorcas Richardson Hall have a daughter Nabby, born CT 10/7/1792; Mansfield, Tolland, CT records.
  • Gershom Hall, Jr. is in Bristol, VT 1799/1800; 1800 census as Gershom Noll, Bristol town records is a freeholder 9/5/1809, lived in Bristol through 1840 census.
  • Gershom’s son Edmund moved to Lake Co. IL in the 1840’s the same period as Joseph and Nabby.

The 1850 census does confirm an Edmund Hall born in 1791 in Connecticut , wife Hannah, living in Lake County, Illinois.

That’s good information, but nothing to draw conclusions from. It is, however, something to work with.

From the book, “The Halls of New England” by David B. Hall, 1883, on page 237, I found:

(Family 81.) Gershom Halls(5) Gershom(4), James(3), William(2), John(1) b. Sept. 6, 177O; m., May 9, 1791, Dorcas Richardson of Wellington, Conn. Residence Mansfield. Children were :

  1. Edmund, b. Sept. 6. 1791.
  2. Nabby, b. Oct. 7, 1792.
  3. Joel, b. Feb. 13, 1794.
  4. Orilla, b. Sept. 30, 1795.
  5. Polly b. Oct. 13, 1797.

Well, that’s a Nabby alright, with a brother Edmund, but is this our Nabby?

Then I discovered that Polly Hall, the daughter of Gershom married David Gates and had a son named Rollin Cone Gates. Ok, this is now too much coincidence, given that the name Rollin and Rollin C. repeats in Nabby’s children as well.

Not only that, but Polly’s first daughter’s name was Alvira, a name also found in Nabby’s daughter Rachel’s line.

I contacted the historical society in Addison County, Vermont and they were unable to find any burial, will, estate or other information for Gershom, although they did find one tidbit that made me quite sad, actually.

“Rachel, dau. of Gershon and Dorcas Hall died April 21, 1809, age 11.”

Rachel Hall would have been born in about 1798 and the 1800 census does support 4 daughters, instead of the three shown for Gershom above in the Hall book. Rachel would have been Nabby’s little sister, younger than Nabby by maybe 5 or 6 years or so.  In 1809, when Rachel died, Nabby would have been 17 and it probably broke her heart to bury her baby sister.  I can see her standing beside the grave and promising to Rachel that she would indeed live on, and then just 5 years later, in 1814, Nabby naming her first daughter Rachel Levina.

This information falls into the “preponderance of evidence category,” but it isn’t proof.  I turned to DNA.

Autosomal DNA

In order to obtain DNA+tree matches at Ancestry.com, I needed to add Gershom Hall and Dorcas Richardson and as much of their Ancestry as is documented in the books I had found onto my Ancestry tree. If you are cringing a bit, so was I, because I hate to add anything speculative.  However, I needed to know if the DNA evidence also supports Nabby being the child of Gershom Hall and Dorcas Richardson and the only way to do that was to add Gershom and Dorcas to my tree.  In other words, I needed to know if my “ancestor trap” would provide any shakey leaf DNA matches.  It did, so Gershom and Dorcas are still branches on my tree.

Today I have 4 matches to the Gershom Hall line other than through Nabby – three through Gershom’s sister, Rachel’s line and one through Gershom’s other daughter Amelia Orilla. I have two additional matches through Gershom’s grandfather, James Hall and wife Mehitable.  I have yet another match through James’ parents William Hall and wife Hester Matthews.

Unfortunately, most of these folks have not uploaded their results to GedMatch, so I’ve been unable to triangulate, but I’m willing to call provisionally “safe” on this one with the non-DNA evidence backed up by 7 different DNA matches to multiple lines other than my own through the Hall family.  It’s still not proof.

Maybe someday I’ll get to triangulate and call this absolutely, positively, a home run.

Nabby’s Children and Mitochondrial DNA

While we are using autosomal DNA to confirm Nabby as a member of the Hall family, we can also utilize Nabby’s mitochondrial DNA to learn more about Nabby’s direct maternal line.

Mitochondrial DNA tells a story hundreds to thousands of years old, but of just one line, the direct matrilineall line. Women pass mitochondrial DNA directly to their children, but men don’t pass theirs on.  So anyone, male or female, descended from Nabby or her sisters through all females can test their mitochondrial DNA, which is the same mitochondrial DNA as Nabby carried.  From that, we can learn about Nabby’s ancient origins, before the advent of surnames.

We can still only identify 3 of Nabby’s children, although through those three children she had 28 or 29 grandchildren, several of whom, the ones in Pennsylvania, she probably never knew, and may not have known of:

  • Rachel Levina Hill, born in April 10, 1814 or 1815 in Bristol, Addison County, Vermont, married Anthony Lore October 13, 1831 in Starksboro, VT, moved to New York, then to Warren County, PA by 1850 where she died between 1870 and 1880. She had a total of 12 children that we know of, with daughters as follows:

Maria Lore born 1844 who married Elisha Stephen Farnham and had daughter Jennie Farnham who married a Goss and had one daughter Ethel Goss.

Mary or Minerva Lore (or both) may have married Henry Ward and had daughters Lillie Ward, Myrtle Ward, Daisy Ward and another daughter whose name is unknown

  • Rollin C. Hill born April 16, 1836, probably in Vermont, married Louisa Jane Wright about 1853, died December 24, 1918 during the flu epidemic in Waukegan, Illinois. He had 9 children who lived, of 11 born: Rollin Cullin (1869-1944), Alice May (1872-1953), Leroy Frank (1877-1923), Harry Wright (1855-1949), Charles Oliver (1873-947), Herbert B. (1872-1942), Joseph (1869-before 1880), Ellen Louisa (1857-1940), Cornelia (1865 and (1865-1937) Lewis (1860-before 1880).  Rollin’s children do not carry Nabby’s mitochondrial DNA since males do not pass mitochondrial DNA to their offspring.
  • Lucia P. Hill born October 27, 1827 in Addison County, Vermont, married Henry Weaver November 8, 1844 in Waukegan, Illinois. He died in 1854.  Lucia never remarried, worked as a seamstress and died on January 13, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois.  She is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Waukegan.  Her children, based on the Bible pages shown below which are known as the “Weaver-Norton Bible,” in combination with census records, are Edwin Alonzo born and died in 1846, Wallace born in 1848 who lived and died in Waukegan, Sarah born in 1850, Adella “Della” born in 1852 and Charles Cullin born in 1853 and died two months after his father in 1854.  1854 was a terrible year for this family.

Lucia’s daughters who would carry her mitochondrial DNA are:

Sarah Prince Weaver born May 14, 1850 in Waukegon, Illinois, moved to Hunters, Stevens County, Oregon where she died on October 29, 1929.  Her second husband was William George Simpson who she married in 1872 in Michigan.  She had children Adolph born in 1872, Edward born in 1875 and died in 1877, Guy born 1879, died 1899, Gary born 1881, died 1884, and Lillie born in 1883. Lillie Simpson carries Sarah’s and Nabby’s mitochondrial DNA.  She married William Wheeler had a daughter Stella Wheeler who died in 1972 and daughter Claire Wheeler who died in 2003.  If Stella or Claire had children, they would also carry Nabby’s mitochondrial DNA.

Sarah Prince WEaver

Nabby’s granddaughter, Sarah Prince Weaver.

Adella “Della” N. Weaver born March 30, 1852, married Duncan Kier about 1880 and had daughter Edna A. Kier born in July of 1880.  Della moved to Independence, Missouri where she died in 1935.  Edna carries Nabby’s mitochondrial DNA as do her children.  If Edna had female children, anyone descended from those female children through females carries Nabby’s mitochondrial DNA too.

Lucia Hill Weaver Bible

Lucia Hill Weaver Bible 2

We do have an opportunity to test individuals who carry Nabby’s DNA today. I will provide a testing scholarship to anyone who descends from Nabby (or her sisters) through all females to the current generation where the individual can be male or female.

A special thank you to the Waukegan Historical Society volunteers, Beverly and Ann for going that special distance, both when I visited and after I left.

Furthermore, Google Maps has opened a huge door of opportunity for genealogists.  I hope you’ve seen some different ways to use this tool, especially in conjunction with old maps.

I could not have written this article without the help of cousins Rick Norton and John Burbank who provided Vermont information and cousin William Wheeler who researched and speculated correctly about Gershom Hall.  It’s because of the collaborative efforts of all of us that we know Nabby Hall Hill just a little bit better today and got to peek into her life through the magic of records and pictures, both old and new.

And Nabby, if you’d like to tell us who the rest of your children are, we’re all ears…

4 thoughts on “Abigail “Nabby” Hall (1792-1874), Pioneer Settler in “Little Fort,” 52 Ancestors #117

  1. Roberta,

    I think Adella Weaver Kier died in Independence, Kansas, rather than Missouri. I looked online for records for her and all of them are in Kansas (census, city directories, etc.). Find-a-grave has a burial for her in Union Cemetery in Winfield, Cowley Co., Kansas. She is listed in the 1929, 1931 and 1935 city directories of Independence, Kansas. According to the Kansas State Census of 1925, Edna Kier Peck had two daughters, Doris age 15 and Naida age 9. In the 1940 census, Doris age 30 was living with her father, Arthur Peck, in Independence, Kansas. According to the SS Death Index, Naida Peck was born on 07 Nov 1915 and died 11 Mar 1996. You might be interested in the fact that Edna’s husband, Arthur Peck, is listed in in his Social Security application as Arthur Estes Peck.

    I hope a descendant of Nabby’s steps forward to take you up on your mtDNA scholarship. I love reading your blog and learning from you!

    Mari

  2. If you’ll allow an odd question, from one who is still pruning and grafting her shaky family tree, are your Halls at all related to your Estes line? I ask, because they seem intertwined on mine. My 2nd ggf, Wm. Garrett “Gary” Estes, was the son of Moses and Lucy Hall Estes. Lucy appears to descend from English Halls from Bradford, York, paternally (father, Wm.), while her mother’s grandfather was an Isaac Chauncey Hall, of New Haven, CT, born in 1865. Isaac’s father was Charles Hall, of Somerset, MD, born 1740. A distant cousin noted (different) Hall-Estes marriages criss-crossing her family’s past, too. These folks all moved South, to Georgia and Tennessee. Any connections, there? And, a second oddball curiousity, too, if you’ll indulge me. Are there any rumblings that heritage organizations, like the DAR, Mayflower Society, GAR, etc., will begin utilizing DNA as supplementary evidence for proving qualifying ancestors? I’m not even sure how difficult or relevant it would be, but it keeps crossing my mind—the idea that DNA might have more limited application than my current knowledge base can grasp. Thank you!

    • In my case, the Hall line is from my Mom and the Estes line is from my Dad. I gave a book name in the article that is available publicly and you may find your Hall line in that book. I know that the DAR will consider DNA as secondary evidence, although I am actually surprised since Y DNA only shows that someone had a common ancestor, not that someone in particular IS the common ancestor. I don’t know about the rest of the societies. There is a Mayflower DNA project.

  3. Roberta, your comment that “Google Maps has opened a huge door of opportunity for genealogists. I hope you’ve seen some different ways to use this tool, especially in conjunction with old maps” leads me to share a Google Maps-generated genealogical experience my wife and I had during a “leaf-peeping” drive through Vermont to visit some of the old haunts of my ancestors a few years ago.)

    While studying up for that trip, in an old book about Fletcher genealogy I came across a photo of the homestead that was built near Ludlow by my 2nd cousin 6x removed, Jesse Fletcher, in 1784. The accompanying text read, “The valley of the Black River, in Vermont, … has no finer spot than that on which is situated the old Jesse Fletcher mansion, near the eastern edge of Ludlow as you cross the line of Cavendish” (the next town you would come to heading east on present day Rte 103).

    So, on what I thought would prove to be a lark, I fired up Google Maps, located the center of the village of Ludlow, set the Google ‘car’ (that little yellow person icon) down on Rte 103 there, and headed east. I had ‘driven’ a little over two miles when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a building with exactly the same shape, roof line, and windows, which was now the office building for the Fletcher Farm School for the Arts and Crafts.

    I had a great uncle, Ralph Fletcher Seymour, who was a fairly famous etcher, artist and publisher of fine books, and I immediately wondered about a possible connection between arts/crafts and cousin Jesse. So I contacted the director of the school (a residential school for aspiring artists in the area), told my story, and got invited for a delightful visit as an honored guest/relative of the later-generation Fletcher who had donated the family property when the school was founded. All because of Google Maps!

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