Thomas Hall and a Glimpse of Life Withheld
by Marilyn Jones
 
On the waters of Duck Creek in the backwoods of 1760s’ Mecklenburg County, North Carolina stood a small rugged one-room log cabin, home of the Hall family.
 
 
Before daybreak, candlelight flicked in the darkness of their earthen ‘sleeping corner.”  Martha laid on the straw tick* listening to Thomas preparing for the day’s work. He had a blazing fire on the grate and the children, still asleep at this pre-dawn hour, would be awake shortly and hungry for nourishing food to get through another heavy workday. The night chill was still on the room, so she quickly dressed to begin their morning meal. What will it be, she thought. We had johnny cakes yesterday, maybe hominy with molasses this ‘morn. Surely, we have ham to go with it. 
 
Winter was approaching, and she had washin’ to do, butter to churn and darn the boy’s socks today.  Later, with Thomas’ help, she had spinning. Candle making would have to wait for another day. For now, they would make-do with the few remaining candles. And there are always meals.  If only the girls were old enough to be of much help. Maybe Thomas will shoot a rabbit or two, or maybe a turkey to go with the mush and milk for supper. 
 
Neither woman’s nor men’s work was ever complete on the farm, even their small farm with its rugged log cabin. It took all members of the family just to survive - farming, caring for livestock, and producing all the family’s needs. But this new life, harsh though it might be, offered hope they had never known. They had joined close friends and family homesteading just north of them, and their families back in Ireland were still close at heart and were missed immensely.

Thomas and Martha had come a long way since first venturing from Ireland across the Atlantic, traveling the Wagon Road into the backcountry of North Carolina and living in lean-tos as land was cleared and timber was cut for their home to be. Life in Ireland had been worse, so even the lean-tos were a blessing by comparison. Now they had freedom from religious persecution and taxes. This was their long-awaited opportunity for a better life. Family before them had written telling them of the rich land, plentiful wildlife and wonders of nature in this faraway land that was now their new home.  Just as man has evolved from his naked ancestors, Thomas could/would evolve in this new world. As devout protestants, their faith gave them hope and would sustain them in the western Piedmont region of North Carolina. And it did.
 
Thomas was able to purchase land in 1766, precious land; that was unavailable to him in his beloved Ireland. His ancestors had endured hundreds of years of British oppression. But here, he can own land and however rocky the path, his family would have opportunity. They were building a community on the rivers, he and fellow Irishmen who endured the rough Atlantic crossing before and with him. The earliest churches had not yet been established in his area, so families and neighbors worshiped together in small groups. Life was good.
 
Thomas had not acquired vast acreage, as his will reflects. So, in true Irish tradition, he wrote his last will and testament on 4 September 1776, leaving his land to his eldest son.  “I Thomas Hall…though weak in body, yet through the abundant goodness and mercy of God, sound understanding and memory do will and bequeath my soul into the hands of God my maker, …(I bequeath)... to my loving wife, the house where I now live; son Thomas, plantation where I now live, 166 acres; to son William as I have no more lands, Thomas shall pay him L(pounds) 30 when he comes to the age of 21; to son James Hall, cow and calf; to son John one cow; to daughter Elizabeth (?) McCimmin, cow and calf; to daughter Margered Smith,  s(shillings) 5; brother James Harris and cousin James Harris of Clear Creek…”
 
And so, it began in the 1760’s on Duck Creek, with Thomas, the Hall progenitor in the backwoods of North Carolina.
 
With time the community grew. Eventually churches sprang up nearby, albeit a 5+ mile trip by wagon. Gristmills, sawmills, tanneries, wagon makers, wheelwrights and country cross-roads general stores were established, improving life for his children. His descendants multiplied.
 
Today, 2022, many of Thomas’ descendants remain in the area and many others have dispersed throughout the United States of America. 
 
_______________________________________