Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I miss you.
Until we meet again!
- author unknown
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

W L Hall and E V Austin

This is the story of my great grandparents Hall and Austin...
(see Calhoun Pedigree Chart #1)

William "Willie" Leighton Hall was born on February 13, 1881 in Marion County, Florida to James Edward Beaumont Hall and Elizabeth Jane "Janie" Martin. William was the younger brother to Dora Ann, John Eason Allen, Henry Thomas, Charles Clinton, Joel Emanuel and James Harmon and the older brother to James Edward Beaumont.

Erna Virginia Austin was born on January 19, 1893 in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama to Robert Austin and Margaret "Maggie" Ann Houk Jones Austin. She had two step siblings, Ethel and Alex, from her mother's previous marriage, and a sister, Nellie.


His World War I Draft Card places Joel Emanuel Hall, William Leighton's older brother, in Lauderdale County, Mississippi between 1917-1918 and also states that his nearest relative is Octavia Sarah Hall.

I am unsure when Willie moved to Mississippi. The thorn in my side of this genealogy quest is that the majority of the 1890 United States Census records burned. It is sometimes hard enough with a ten year span, but with a twenty year gap, it is easy to lose the track you're on with some folks.

At age 19, in the year 1900 Willie married Alice Virginia "Virgie" Coker (I presume in Mississippi). Virgie, a Mississippi native, was the younger sister of Octavia Sarah Coker who was married to Joel Emanuel Hall. To avoid panic and confusion, this means two Hall brothers married two Coker sisters.

Together Willie and Virgie had two sons. The first, who was his father's namesake, was born on February 22, 1904 and died less than four months later on June 14, 1904. The second was born on February 6, 1908 and was named James "Jimmie" Thomas Hall.

On April 19, 1910 Willie, Virgie and James shared a home down the street from Joel Emanuel, Octavia Sarah Hall and their children, Janie M, Marrie, Sarah O and Maggie J Barter, their adopted child. At the time, Willie worked as a nursery salesman while Joel worked as a farmer, both in Beat 5, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

1910 United States Census (April 19) - Lauderdale County, Mississippi

Just six months after this census was taken, October 18, 1910 Virgie died in Mississippi. She and her infant son William "Willie" Leighton Hall, Jr. were buried at Coker's Chapel United Methodist Cemetery in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Also buried there are Joel Emanuel and Octavia Coker Hall as well as other members of their family.

Young Jimmie was less than two years old when his mother passed away. The story, as grandpa tells it, is that Erna Virginia Austin was hired by Willie to be the nurse maid to young Jimmie. Apparently love was in the air because on June 19, 1913 the two were married.

Erna, Jimmie and Bill Hall

By 1916 Willie's work as a salesman of fruit trees, shrubs and bibles compelled the threesome to move to Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Here they "lived in tents with the Seminole Indians," according to grandpa, and on March 6, 1916 Erna gave birth to their first daughter, Miriam Erna.

Jimmie and Miriam Hall

Before 1918 the family moved to Orlando, Florida where on June 30, 1918 William Andrews Hall was born. The couple chose the name Andrews after the doctor who assisted in the birth.

According to the 1920 United States Census, dated January 27, the family lived on Piedmont in Orlando, Orange County, Florida where Willie worked as a nurseryman. The home they lived in was owned outright and had a value of $5,000. Neither Willie nor Erna had attended school, but both could read and write. The day after the census was taken, on January 28, the family welcomed another son, Charles "Charlie" Alexander.

1920 United States Census (January 27) - Orlando, Orange County, Florida

Charlie, Miriam and Bill Hall

William Leighton, Charlie, Bill and Miriam Hall

Everyone in our family knows that if they receive a card or letter from my grandpa, it will always be signed, "Your Friend, Bill Hall." The origin of this is from his father who sent out these post cards as a nurseryman.

Willie and Erna had two more children, Robert "Bobby" Edward born on December 6, 1922 and Alan Lincoln on September 27, 1924.

Miriam, Bill, Charlie and Bobby Hall

The 1930 United States Census, dated April 21, shows all eight members of the family still living on Piedmont Street. At the time, Willie worked as a Real Estate broker and Jimmy a Real Estate agent. By this time Jimmy had attended school and was able to read and write.

1930 United States Census (April 21) - Orlando, Orange County, Florida

William Leigton Hall lost his mother, Janie Martin Hall on June 1, 1931 and at age 50, just four months later he died on October 8, 1931 and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Orlando, Orange County, Florida. My grandpa, William Andrews Hall, was 13 years old when his grandmother and father died. He remembers that his cousin, Leighton Hall, was the one who told him the news of his father. Also, many years later, a lady named MacDonald went to Hall's Nursery to tell him that his daddy had worked at her house in Mount Dora the day before he died. Willie died of chronic myocarditis. Myocarditis is inflamation or degeneration of the heart muscle. He was attended by the doctor for eight days before his death at 3pm on the 8th.

Erna Virginia Austin Hall was now 38 years old raising children who were ages 7, 9, 13 and 15. The loss of her husband was only the first of the tragic times in her life. On April 25, 1938 her 16 year old son Charlie was murdered in Griffin, Spalding County, Georgia. I have heard grandpa's sadness and grief when he tells this story of his little brother, but I can not begin to imagine the heart ache that his mother must have felt.

Erna did experience the joys of being a grandmother and great-grandmother numerous times and at some point she even remarried, a gentleman named O C Thomas. Her happiness was interrupted again by the unimaginable some time around 1960 when her youngest son died around age 36. My great-grandma lived another 17 years after burying her second child. What a strong woman she was must have been to have endured such tragedies in life.

Nanny Tom with Adam Jerger and Karen Calhoun (me) her great-grandchildren

1 Corithians 10:13 of the King James Bible reads:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I am not sure if my great-grandma was a spiritual person, but I can only imagine that at some point in her life she must have turned to the Lord for comfort. I am not sure how you could push through such difficult times without faith.
"Nanny Tom" as she was referred to by her grandchildren (from her new last name, Thomas) lived until December 28, 1977, just 22 days shy of her 85th birthday. She died from terminal multiple myeloma or cancer of the plasma cells.

1 comment:

Grandma Andie said...

Wow, Karen. I continue to be amazed by your organization and labors of love. This is so good!! Thanks for your hard work!
Aunt Andie