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Saturday, March 13, 2010

The 12th of March 2010 . . . and 1860 . . .

One hundred fifty years ago yesterday . . . on Monday, the 12th day of March . . . in the year 1860 . . . James Madison Hall (1819-1866) penned the following words in his daily journal . . .

To day I purchased in Crockett 2 hoes, 1 rake and some other articles which I sent home by Dick. In the evening I purchased my bay horse Mustapha at public out cry on a 12 months credit for the sum of $124.75 for which I executed my note with W.A. STEWART as my security payable to S.A. MILLER who sold the horse. At home still planting corn, with 2 plows running. I also gave my note to Isaac ADAIR for the sum of $120 for costs in sundry cases. Weather clear and pleasant.

. . . and yesterday morning . . . before hitting the road for a three-hour drive to Austin, Texas . . . I typed the above words and made a new blog post at The Journal . . . where I plan to continue posting on a daily basis (for the next seven years!) each and every one of the 150-year-old entries made by J.M. Hall during the entire time period from the 16th of January 1860 until two days before he died on the 12th day of September 1866.

Nothing especially significant about that journal entry . . . except for the fact that it was written exactly 150 years . . . to the day . . . before I first laid eyes . . . and hands . . . on the actual 150-year-old pages of that Journal . . . and held in my hands tax receipts from the 1840s that were written to my 3rd great-grandma, Mahala . . . that means that my hands were touching papers that were once touched by her hands . . .

My trip to Austin yesterday was an unplanned one . . . until I received a private message on Facebook Thursday night . . . from cousin Grace who was letting me know that she was in Austin . . . and planned a Friday visit to the Center for American History . . . for the express purpose of spending some quality time with the original of the James Madison Hall Journal!

I responded with an I wish I could be there with you . . . promptly followed by I'll probably see you in the morning! I sent her my phone number, and got her phone number, and called my Mom and told her I planned to be in Austin on Friday . . . and proceeded to stay awake all night long 'cause I was so excited about the pending trip (shh, Mom doesn't know I drove all the way to Austin and back after not sleeping all night!).

Cousin Grace is actually a half 3rd cousin once removed. We both descend from Mahala Lee Sharp Hall nee Roberts (1816-1885) . . . me from Mahala's first marriage to the mysterious John M. Sharp . . . and Grace from Mahala's second marriage to Col. Joshua James Hall.

Mom met me in Round Rock, and then we stopped by Grace's hotel to meet her for the very first time (and felt like we had known each other forever) . . . and off we went to find the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History on the campus of the University of Texas.

Grace had called ahead to talk to the staff about what we were wanting to look at. Once inside, all three of us had to show a photo ID and fill out their required paperwork. We also had to fill out separate request slips for each box we wanted to see. We also were given a paper that had to be taken back out to the parking lot for display on the dashboard . . . something about it being the ONLY free parking lot in the area . . .

Lockers were available for anything we had with us that is NOT allowed in the Reading Room, e.g., purses, cameras, notepads and writing instruments . . . AND BASEBALL CAPS (and yes, I was wearing one . . . it was very windy in Austin yesterday . . . and no, I was not allowed to wear it in to the reading room!). They do provide their own paper and #2 pencils for taking notes.

They had multiple smaller tables, and one really big table, but if we all sat at it, we were only allowed one box at a time . . . one box per table . . . so we sat at three different tables . . . so we could have three different boxes at one time. When we were ready for a 4th box, one of our boxes was removed before the 4th box was brought out. And the request slip for each box had to actually be signed by the person sitting at that table.

We left multiple requests for copies . . . no copying was done while we were there. We were instructed to fill out a request form listing each box # and folder # and a brief description of the item . . . and to insert a START and a STOP paper (provided by them) inside each folder . . . which was to be returned to its box . . . and taken back to the desk when we were through with it. They will copy the requested items and mail them to us, along with an invoice. I believe they said that requests for a lot of copies require credit card information for prepayment, but I'm not sure . . . we did not have to do that. They said to expect to receive our copies within one or two weeks.

The J.M. Hall who penned the thousands of words that make up the 1860-1866 Hall Journal is a half great-grand-uncle to Cousin Grace . . . and he is only related to me because he is the stepson of my 3rd great-grandma, Mahala . . . as well as being her son-in-law . . . 'cause he married her daughter / his step-sister, Margaret Annot Hall Stewart nee Sharp (1840 - ca. 1878) in 1859, which was eight years after his father married the widowed Mahala.

But this 19th century gentleman personally knew some of my kith 'n kin . . . and interacted with them on a sometimes daily basis . . . and wrote about those people in his daily ramblings. He introduced me to those folk in a manner that would have never been possible if not for him and his Journal . . .

If I were to feel inclined to keep a daily journal that might possibly be useful as a book of reference and may hereafter be profitable to those who have an interest in my affairs (that's a quote from the Journal), the following is what I might record about yesterday's adventure . . .

Friday March 12th 2010. To day in the morning Grace, Roberta and myself went to Austin for the purpose of perusing old family papers. Studied Republic of Texas tax receipts for the widow Mahala L. Sharp before she married J.J. Hall. Confirmed the shooting of Sam Sharp on November 27th 1851. Laid my hands on the journal page containing the record of the marriage of the said Sam and Nellie on July 11th 1861. Dined outdoors on a meal of apricot chicken salad with fresh fruit. Drank ginger peach tea with ice. A good time was had by all. Returned home from Austin in time to watch Emmit Smith discover his roots on NBC. Traffic on the highway heavy and congested. Weather clear and pleasant with a brisk wind.

Hmmm . . . wonder what someone would think upon reading the above 150 years from now . . . FYI . . . Box #3S41 was not located while we were there . . . really curious about the photos . . . there is no known original likeness of James Madison Hall in existence . . . only a photocopy of a photo in a book . . . we suspect this listing is a typo because it is known that there IS a photo of Mahala and her second husband, Joshua James Hall . . . we await word from the staff on the status of the missing box . . . and its contents.

I would, of course, love to have a copy of every single piece of paper in those boxes . . . but I don't expect that will happen . . . would love to have digital images of some of them in particular . . . terrific collage subjects on their own . . . even without the family connection . . .

The following list of information from the folder containing the Center's finding aid was emailed to us by one of the staff members. There was more information in the folder but it was not available in the file on her computer, so she will include copies of those pages when the copies we requested are mailed to us in a week or so.

HALL (JAMES MADISON) FAMILY PAPERS, 1807, 1813, 1840-1980. (1 ft.) Unrestricted access. [AR 81-131; 84-22; 88-95]:

  • Box #2B78
    • Joshua James Hall:
      • Diary, 1848-1857
      • Financial records, 1850-1872, undated
    • Mahala L. Hall:
      • Financial records, 1844-1897
      • Legal records, land deeds, 1876-1881
    • A.M. [sic] Hall, financial records, 1868
    • James Madison Hall: Diaries: June-December 1862
  • Box #3S200a
    • 1860-1866 (with index) [FYI . . . this is the actual Journal]
  • Box #2B78
    • Financial records, 1840-1864
    • Military records, 1846
    • Nannie Burton Hall, autograph book, 1857-1888
    • Horace Oscar Hall:
      • Correspondence, 1887-1903, 1934, undated
      • Financial records:
        • 1876-1907
        • 1908-1934
  • Box #2.325/D1b
    • Oversized, 1865-1869, 1910, 1922-1925
  • Box #2B78
    • Legal records, land deeds, 1878-1924, undated
  • Box #2B109
    • J.F. Hall, legal and financial records, 1932-1933
    • Felix Roberts Hall:
      • Financial records, 1918, 1924
      • Military records, 1909-1922
    • Susie Loring Hall:
      • Correspondence, 1947, 1950
      • Financial records, 1926
      • Legal records, 1927, 1942, 1952
      • Clipping, 1961
    • Robert Loring Hall:
      • Correspondence, 1939-1947, 1978, 1980
      • Printed material, 1947
    • Callie MaGee Hall, financial records, 1921-1945
    • Sam Sharp and Florine Hall, account books [with some family history], 1869-1889
    • Florine Hall, correspondence, 1889
    • John Marshall Sharp and M.L. Hall, notebooks, undated
    • General correspondence, 1882-1899, undated
    • General financial records, 1869-1908
    • General Legal records, land deeds, 1807, 1813, 1923, undated
    • General printed material, 1975, undated
  • Box #3S41
    • Photographs:
      • Mahala L. (Roberts Sharp) Hall, undated
      • James Madison Hall, undated
  • Box #OD1273 Plat map, undated [Houston County?]

CENTER FOR AMERICAN HISTORY Archives and Manuscripts Separation Sheet Accession no. 88-95 Collection title: HALL (JAMES MADISON) FAMILY PAPERS To be routed to: Center for American History Unit 2.325/D1b The following items have been routed to the above unit for more appropriate disposition: Hall, Horace Oscar Financial documents, 1865-1869, 1910, 1922, 1925

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