Janet (Smith) Hall: 1804 – 1812

On October 17, 1804, Janet (Smith) Hall received Eutaw Farm as a gift from her father, William Smith.  Janet was the wife of Colonel Josias Carvel Hall and the couple and their family’s resided at Hall’s Park near Havre de Grace in Harford County, Maryland.  Prior to receiving ownership of the Herring Run estate, Janet and Josias Carvel Hall often enjoyed the hospitality of Smith’s Eutaw Farm during their many extended visits to Baltimore and likely considered the estate their second home.

Given the likely attachment Janet had for the farm, it is little wonder that Smith decided to give the estate to his daughter. By 1804, William Smith was enjoying his retirement and likely felt the upkeep of the estate was more than the 76 year old could handle.  Smith also likely had other selfish motivations behind his gift as well.  In his long life, he had witnessed the death of his wife and nine of his children. Smith’s correspondence with another of his daughters and son-in-law, Mary and Otho Holland Williams, indicates Smith enjoyed having his children close and gift of Eutaw could be perceived as an enticement for Janet and Josias Carvel Hall to come to Baltimore more often.

Janet Smith married Josias Carvel Hall at the First Presbyterian Church of Baltimore on March 14, 1780.  Josias Carvel Hall was a member of the well-connected and influential Hall family of Harford County. He was born on July 7, 1746 to John Hall and Hannah Matthews in St. George’s Parish.  His father was a planter and legislator in the Lower House of Maryland’s Colonial General Assembly from 1745 to 1748 as well as served as Justice of the Peace for Baltimore County at various times between 1728 and 1746.  Coming from a family of means, Josias Carvel Hall, along with several of his brothers, had the privilege of attending the College of Philadelphia where he obtained a degree in medicine in 1769 (Papenfuse et al. 1985).  Following graduation, Josias Carvel Hall returned to Maryland where he both practiced his medical profession as well as established himself as one of Baltimore County’s gentlemen planters.

As tensions grew between Great Britain and her American colonies in the early 1770s, Josias Carvel Hall quickly joined the Patriot cause.  On March 22, 1775, Hall was among 34 Harford County committee members to sign the Bush Declaration (Papenfuse et al. 1985). Like other similar resolutions in the American colonies, the Bush Declaration expressed support for the patriots in Boston and their opposition of the British blockade of the city. At the same time, Josias Carvel Hall served as captain of the First Company of the Harford County militia. Hall’s military involvement during the American Revolution began shortly after the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  Following the battles, Josias and his cousin, Aquila, traveled to Massachusetts by way of Philadelphia in order to offer their support and join the armed rebellion. While in Philadelphia, they met with John Adams, who provided the brothers a letter of introduction to be presented to Abigail Adams upon their arrival.

Aquilla and Josias Carvel Hall arrived in Boston in June of 1775, and quickly found their way to the American camp in Charlestown.  As coincidence would have it, the brothers arrived just in time to participate in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Following the defeat of the American forces the Hall brothers eventually returned to Harford County where Josias was commissioned a colonel in the Maryland Flying Camp under the command of Brigadier General Resin Beall. Col. Josias Carvel Hall’s battalion comprised men from Baltimore and Harford Counties and consisted of six companies of infantry, numbering 436 men and one company of artillery (Bowie 1948). In 1777 the Flying Camps were decommissioned by Congress and Col. Hall’s was placed in command of 4th Maryland Regiment of the 2d Maryland Brigade under General William Smallwood. Col. Hall remained in command of the 4th Maryland Regiment until the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783.  During his military career, Josias Carvel Hall was encamped at Valley Forge and saw action in the majority of the war’s major engagements including the Battles of Long Island, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Camden, Guildford Court House, and the British surrender at Yorktown. Following the war, Hall returned to military service on occasion first as Brigadier General of the Maryland Militia from 1794 – 1795 and later as Lieutenant Colonel of the Ninth United States Infantry from 1799 – 1800.

Josias Carvel Hall returned to his wife and family and enjoyed the life of a private citizen, practicing physician and planter in the years that followed the Revolutionary War. Janet and Josias’s courtship and subsequent marriage occurred at the height of the American Revolution but it seems the colonel found at least a few opportunities for a sojourn in Maryland in order to spend quality time with his new bride.  In January 1781, Josias and Janet welcomed the birth of their first son, John Carville Hall. A year later, their second son was born on March 26, 1782. Named for Janet’s father, the couple named him William Smith Hall.  Unfortunately, the life of young William Smith was cut short having died a few months after his first birthday on August 11, 1783. It is not known whether Josias was present for the birth of his first two sons, or where Janet resided during her pregnancy.  It is unlikely Janet remained alone at her Hall’s Park plantation while her husband was at war.  Since both her in-laws were dead by the time her first son was born, it is at least a possibility that Janet spent the many months of her pregnancy with her father at his Eutaw Farm.

Over the next eight years, Janet and Josias Carvel Hall continued to try for more children; however, it appears the couple disproportionately suffered the devastating heart ache of losing a young child more than most of their contemporaries. Elizabeth Smith and Hannah Elizabeth were born in 1783 and 1785, respectively. Elizabeth Smith Hall died two months after her first birthday and Hannah Elizabeth Hall passed away after only 10 months. A third daughter, Mary Ann Hall was born on November 7, 1791 but she too died in her youth.  The only child to reach adulthood was the couple’s fifth child, Benedict William Hall. According to his baptismal record, Benedict was born to Janet and Josias on May 6, 1790 in Baltimore County.  Harford County was formed from Baltimore County in 1773 so if Benedict was born at his parent’s home his baptismal record would have indicated such. Given the record indicates Baltimore, it seems likely that Benedict was born at either William Smith’s home on Calvert Street or at Eutaw Farm.

Janet and Josias Carvel Hall often came to Eutaw for extended periods during William Smith’s tenure of the farm and the property was a favorite retreat for many members of the family. So it is not out of the question that Janet would have felt comfortable and wanted to give birth to her children at the farm, close to her father and sisters. One reference to Janet’s particular fondness for staying at Eutaw came in a letter from William Smith to his son-in-law, Otho Holland Williams:

Document1

Another reference to Janet and Josias’ regular use of Eutaw Farm prior to their acquisition of the property in 1804 comes in an advertisement Josias placed in the Maryland Journal:

1789 Slave Ad

In July 1789, Josias Carvel Hall placed a runaway advertisement offering a reward for the return of their enslaved carriage driver, Gustus. If found, Josias requested Gustus be returned to him at his residence near Baltimore. Since Josias did not own a home in the vicinity of the city, it appears Gustus escaped while the Halls were visiting Smith’s Eutaw Farm. It is uncertain whether Gustus escaped or if he was captured and returned to Josias Carvel Hall at Eutaw. The runaway advertisement first ran in the Maryland Journal on July 27, 1789 and it continued to appear in that paper for nearly a month afterwards with its last appearance in the August 21st edition. Perhaps Gustus was recaptured at that time or it is just as likely that Josias felt his fugitive slave may have left the region by that time and the cost of keeping the ad in the local paper would likely not result in his return.

It is not certain how often or to what degree Janet Smith Hall and her family visited Eutaw Farm after receiving the estate as a gift from her father in 1804. The eight short years she owned the property was a period of chronic health issues for Janet which left her largely bedridden and eventually disabled.  What is known of Janet’s health from this period comes from several correspondences between her father, William Smith, and Janet’s nephew, William Elie Williams. In one letter to William Elie Williams dated December 20, 1808, his grandfather describes some details of how he has managed the estate of William’s deceased father, Otho Holland Williams, while also advising his grandson to consider marrying one of the daughters of General Samuel Smith.  At the end of the letter, William Smith mentions that William Elie Williams’ “Aunt Hall is not well” (Smith 1808).

From the brief mention in Smith’s letter, it is not clear as to specific illness that afflicted Janet, but it seems her ailment lasted for some time and during the course of the sickness it appears she may have suffered at least a minor stroke.  In another letter dated May 29, 1809, Smith informs Williams that “your Aunt Hall is restored to health, except for the use of her right hand” (Smith 1809). Although the letter indicates Janet was on the mend, it appears her five month illness likely took its toll and resulted with chronic effects that lasted for years.

During Janet’s eight-year proprietorship, she and her family likely used the estate much as they did before, as an occasional residence when the family was in Baltimore.  After Janet’s illness, however, it seems likely the family spend more time on their Hall’s Park plantation While the manor house at Eutaw Farm was not rented to tenants and was always available for the family’s use whenever they were in the area, the property also possessed a very lucrative mill seat on which the Eutaw Grist Mill stood.  Even during the tenure of Janet’s father, the Eutaw Mill was never operated by the property owner.  Rather, William Smith leased the mill and miller’s house to a tenant who payed Smith a percentage of his profit. After Janet Smith took ownership of Eutaw Farm, it appears she followed her father’s example and continued to lease the mill seat.

The identities of the Eutaw Mill tenants and operators were unknown during William Smith’s proprietorship of the estate. While Smith likely kept a record of his tenants in his personal and accounting papers, the location of those documents are unknown, if they even survive to the present-day.  Likewise, tax assessments from 1779 to 1804 do not indicate who may have leased land on Smith’s estates or operated his mills.  While similar documentary shortcomings relative to Janet Smith Hall’s proprietorship also exist, the identity of her Eutaw Mill tenant was present in a local newspaper.

Stray Cow Ad

On December 13, 1805, the miller at Eutaw Mill placed a notice in the Telegraphe and Daily Advertiser.  According the advertisement, William Morrison discovered a stray cow near the Eutaw Mill sometime in the early fall.  It appears he expected the cow’s owner would quickly find his missing property but by early December it appears Morrison was becoming impatient.  It is unclear whether Morrison was originally the Eutaw miller under the Smith’s proprietorship or how long he continued in that capacity under Janet Hall’s tenure.  It is likely Eutaw Farm retained the services of Morrison for some time.  Milling was a skilled profession and the retention of an expert miller would be to the financial interest to a proprietor.  If the terms of William Morrison’s employment at Eutaw was mutually acceptable, it would not have been out of the question for Morrison to be the resident miller for Eutaw for several years, if not decades.  During those periods when Janet Smith Hall and her family were not in residence at Eutaw Farm, management of the estate may have been under a separate property manager or been an agreed upon responsibility of the resident miller such as William Morrison.

After 1810, it seems Janet and Josias Carvel Hall relocated to Baltimore County, taking up permanent residence at Eutaw Farm.  Their reasons for doing so are unknown, but Janet’s failing health and that of her father’s advanced age may have played some part as relocating to Eutaw would provide the father and daughter ample opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and that of her extended family of nephews and cousins. In the last two years of her life, Janet spent her time quietly with her family at Eutaw Farm.  On March 1, 1812, Janet Smith Hall died 15 days after her 60th birthday.

Previous: William Smith

References

Bowie, Lucy Leigh

1948    Maryland Troops in the Battle of Harlem Heights. In Maryland Historical Magazine 43(1). On file at the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland.

Smith, William

1791a January 31, 1791 Letter to Otho Holland Williams. In the Otho Holland Williams Papers. On File at the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland.

Papenfuse, Edward C., Alan F. Day, and David W. Jordan

1985    A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635 – 1789. Volume 1: A – H. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

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