The last series I wrote was about my Smith ancestors. This is my mother's paternal line. I'm going to address a branch of the Smith line now and talk about the Hall family of Massachusetts.
Mary Hall was my fourth great-grandmother. She married my fourth great-grandfather, Samuel Belding Smith on July 29, 1827 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. She was the mother of my third great-grandfather, Samuel G. Smith.
Mary was born August 23, 1803 in Westminster, Massachusetts. Westminster is in northern central Massachusetts, near Fitchburg. Even today, Westminster is a small community, with a population of around 7,000 people. In 1803, when Betsey was born, it was a sparsely populated farming community. Forests and lakes are found in abundance in Westminster, and the soil produced excellent crops, particularly corn, peas and lentils. The town was first settled by white colonists in 1737, and was officially incorporated in 1759. Prior to that, there does not appear to have been a indigenous settlement in the town limits, according to "History of Westminster Massachusetts (first named Narragansett no. 2) from the date of the original grant of the township to the present time, 1728-1893; with a biographic-genealogical register of its principal families" by William Sweetzer Heywood, but several Native American tribes were present in the surrounding area, including the Nashuas, the Hassanamiscos, the Quaboags, and the Squakeags.
|Crow Hill Pond, Leominster State Forest, Westminster|
Mary's mother, Prudence Martin, was from nearby Ashburnham, whereas her father, Elisha Hall, had been born in Dedham, much closer to Boston. The Hall family had moved west at some point after Elisha's birth, however, and Elisha married his first wife, Sarah Bemis, in Westminster in 1794. Sarah died in September 1799, just a month after their daughter, Sally, was born. Three years later, Elisha married Prudence Martin in Westminster on November 26, 1802. Mary was the eldest child of Elisha and Prudence, born ten months after the wedding. They had two more children together. Elizabeth was born in 1808 and Alexander in 1815. The unusual spacing of these children makes me wonder if there weren't more Hall siblings who did not survive and for whom there are no records.
On July 29, 1827, Mary married Samuel Belding Smith in nearby Fitchburg. She was twenty-three years old, and Samuel was nineteen. They appear to have settled in Westminster at first, as this is where their first child, Mary Ann Smith, was born on February 5, 1828. In November 1830, Samuel bought property in Fitchburg and the family settled there permanently. Samuel worked as a carpenter and Mary raised their children. After Mary Ann, there were two more children, Sophia, born in 1830, and Samuel, born in 1837.
|Main Street, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 1867. By James E. Morse.|
When Mary was in her 40s, she lost both of her parents and one of her daughters within the span of a few years. Her father, Elisha, died in 1845, followed by her mother, Prudence, in 1849. In 1851, the middle Hall child, Sophia, died at the age of twenty. Sophia had not yet married and was still living with her parents. This must have been a great blow to Mary and Samuel. Their other two children, Mary Ann and Samuel, lived to adulthood, married, and had children of their own. Both of them would move to California, settling near Los Angeles with their families.
At some point between Sophia's death in 1851 and the census of 1870, Mary and Samuel moved from Fitchburg to Bunker Hill, Illinois. Mary died there on May 17, 1886 at the age of 82. Samuel would live another seven years, dying on December 6, 1893 at the age of 86.