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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Joshua James Hall

Around 1835, Joshua James Hall (1790-1871) came to Houston County, Texas. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1790. In 1812 he volunteered for military service for the defense of America against the British. February 19, 1819, he and his first wife Elizabeth had a son, who was named James Madison Hall.

From Baltimore, Joshua went to Natchez, Mississippi. On the rolls there of the Andrew Jackson Masonic Lodge, in 1820, he is found as a member.

Sometime in 1823, he moved to Vicksburg. There he went into a General Store business, and he married his second wife. Vicksburg was his home about ten years.

His son James Madison Hall moved with his father to New Orleans in 1833. At this time, there was a Yellow Fever epidemic, and Joshua being a fine wood craftsman, opened a business in making coffins for the many dead of the fever.

With a nice sum of money from this business, he moved with James Madison to Conroe, Texas in 1834. In Conroe, he had a General Retail Store.

While there, he began to make land investments. One of these investments was the purchase of the "Ramon de Garza" grant which was located in the northwestern part of Houston County. This grant had 24,000 acres of land. The Elkhart Creek ran through this land, and the Trinity River to one side.

This is where Joshua had a large story and one half house built. There were two large fireplaces on each side of this house with a long 'dog trot' running down the middle of the house.

He built near the Trinity River, a General Store and a Post Office. While Joshua had been in Mississippi, he had also been in the steam boat business. So, he went into the steam boat business again on the Trinity River. A dock was built on some high bluffs over the river and it was there that river steamers began to go up and down the river carrying the cotton and goods of the citizens of Houston County to Galveston.

This became a thriving place, and became known as the Hall's Bluff. Hall's Bluff was very busy in those early days, until the coming of the railroad to Crockett.

James Madison Hall would help with the family business, and he traveled to Liberty, Texas many times by horse over muddy roads from Crockett to Liberty.

Joshua was the gentleman type settler. He wore store bought clothes from New York. He wore the tall beaver hat that was the style of a gentleman of that day. Each year he went to Maryland and to New York for a visit.

In 1850, he married his third [sic] wife, Mahala Roberts Sharp, a widow who came to Houston County before 1835. She was the daughter of Elisha Roberts, an early Spanish Alcalde, of San Augustine, Texas.

To this union were born two children, a daughter Roberta, born May 25, 1852, and a son, Horace was born September 22, 1854. Both of these children were born on the Elkhart Creek Plantation. Horace was called "Toby" by the slaves. He was very close to these people and he always included them as his friends.

Joshua and Mahala were very fond of dancing. They went into Crockett to dancing school. At their Plantation, they had balls for the benefit of the Confederacy. They were active Methodists in the early Methodist church of Crockett.

In 1861, he is shown as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Soule University, a Methodist School at Chappel Hill. He had been elected to this post by the East Texas Methodist Conference. Throughout his life he was an active Mason.

In 1871, he died at his home at Elkhart Creek, where he was buried in the family cemetery.

Esther M. Biggers nee Hall
great-granddaughter of Joshua & Mahala


The above information was sent to the Keeper of this family history blog in November of 1998 from Pat Stephenson of Madisonville, Texas. In response to my Internet query, Pat wrote . . . "The Halls from Houston County are not my line but I live in Madison County, a Houston County neighbor. I looked at the Houston County history book, published 1979, in the Madison County Library and there is a story in it on Joshua James Hall. . . ." 


Virginia Ann Hall was Joshua Hall's third wife. He divorced her soon after marrying her because she would not come to Texas with him in 1850.

He married his second wife in Baltimore, Maryland. I will have to get his records out again to tell you this wife's name. She died in Vicksburg. This marriage was performed by a Rev. Duncan. I have the record for this marriage.

Joshua's first wife was Elizabeth Ann Hall, the mother to James Madison Hall. Not much is known about her. Joshua married her it seems at a very young age.

James Madison came to New Orleans with his father around 1820. Joshua made a lot of money in New Orleans during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1832-1833, as he was a cabinet maker. He had his business in the French Quarters which means that he could speak French. The cabinet maker made coffins in the early days.

When he made his fortune at this time, and he made a trip to his home city Baltimore, and that is when he married his second wife. She came back to New Orleans with him, then went to Vicksburg, Miss., where Joshua had a store and a Ferry across the Mississippi River.

The "Hall's Ferry" road is still there today. I have the land deed of just where his business was. It was on the River. It seems that Joshua used the same business principal he had in Vicksburg when he set up Hall's Bluff.

James Madison came to Texas first with his cousin John L. Hall. They fought the Mexicans, General Cos at San Antonia in the year 1835 of which the Mexicans were sent back to Mexico. For this battle the men received some Texas Land. James Madison and John L. Hall got theirs in Houston, County (Journal records this).

Joshua still lived in New Orleans then to Vicksburg. Joshua was a citizen of two areas -- Miss. and new Texas. He traveled back and forth between Vicksburg and Houston County.

He paid for the 24,000 acres of a Mexican Land Grant (I have that record) for $39,000 which was a very large amount of money for that day in 1839. His son James, and nephew John were his managers. He came to Texas in the very early 1850's for keeps.

He married Elisha Roberts' daughter, Mahala, a widow of Sam Sharp [John M. Sharp]. Mahala had lived in the northern west part of Houston county with Sam [John] when they came there as a young bride and groom from San Augustine.

The above info was originally shared by Esther Biggers on the 11th of January in 2001.