John Hall

Stories of Guernsey County by Wm. Wolfe Page 908-909

     John Hall the Pioneer Quaker.—Traveling westward alone, a young Quaker came into what is now Millwood township on August 4, 1806.  He was carrying a sack of corn meal, a loaf of bread, a flitch of bacon, a knife and fork, a pewter plate and some cooking utensils.  His name was John Hall and he was twenty-two years of age.  A year before this he had come with his father from North Carolina to Belmont county.  Having become of age, he wanted to be free to work out his future his own way; hence this journey in quest of a place to settle.  Liking the appearance of the northeast quarter of Section 13, he decided to enter in and establish a home there.

     All about him was a dense forest.  Near a spring he selected a spot for a cabin.  At the foot of a big oak tree he slept the first few nights; then, as a protection from wild beasts, he slept on a scaffold that he erected under the trees.  He split a buckeye log in two and from one of the halves he hewed out an oblong tray which was about twenty inches across the short way.  This, when covered, made a safe protection for his provisions.  Wild turkeys were plentiful and easily captured.  For many days he lived on their meat and the food he had brought from his father’s home.  In the meantime he was engaged in building a cabin for a home.  The Williams family five miles down Leatherwood valley were his nearest neighbors, but of their presence there John Hall may have had no knowledge.

     A few weeks later two strangers appeared at his cabin, announcing that they were John Webster and Henry Sidwell from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania; that they were Quakers seeking a place to locate.  Hall pointed out a suitable tract just west of the one he had entered, and Webster decided to purchase 800 acres from the government, eighty acres for each of his ten children.  The cost was $1.25 an acre.  Sidwell, who was a brother-in-law of Webster, chose a half section of land east of Hall’s place. They then returned to Pennsylvania for their families.

     A Quaker Romance.—When John Webster reached home and reported the result of their trip, the character of the land and his purchase in the wilderness, one of his daughters, Phebe, protested against leaving civilization for a home far away in an unbroken forest.  “Never do thee mind, Phebe,” said her uncle, “we found a lad out there who will make thee a good husband.”  Whether or not this was an inducement, Phebe came with the others, and the next spring she became the wife of the identical lad of whom her uncle had spoken.  The wedding took place at a Quaker church in Belmont county.

     John and Phebe Hall made their home in the cabin he had built.  Later they erected a large brick residence near the cabin.  Their family consisted of eight children, six sons and two daughters. All were buried in the Friends cemetery at Quaker City, as were may of their descendants.

     A Successful Pioneer.—John Hall was a man of great industry, integrity and economy, and he possessed the confidence of all who knew him.  Not only did he become an extensive landowner and farm on a large scale, but he engaged in the mercantile business and in buying tobacco which was an important crop in that section.  He seemed to be successful in every activity in which he engaged.  He was the largest stockholder in the first Guernsey county bank which was organized at Washington.  When the Central Ohio (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad was proposed, he was one of its leading advocates.  To encourage the promoters of the railroad to build it down Leatherwood valley instead of across the central or northern part of the county he bought much stock in the company, and became one of its first directors.  As such officer he was succeeded by his son, Isaac W. Hall, who, in turn, was succeeded by his son, the late John R. Hall, benefactor of Quaker City.  At the time of his death, in 1854, John Hall was the wealthiest man in Guernsey county.  In 1906 the descendants of John Hall observed the hundredth anniversary of his coming into the township, near the Quaker meeting-house at Quaker City.



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