Monday, July 19, 2010

A LIFE DISRUPTED


Even though Mildred Bourn Hall is not my direct relative, I’d like to share a few words about her life. Abner Hall of Franklin County, Missouri was my great-great-great (genealogists call that 3rd great) grandfather. He had two wives. His first, Nancy, was the mother of William LeGrand Hall and John A. Hall, from whom I descend. Nancy died in 1843 and Abner married young Mildred Bourn, with whom he had five more Hall children: Emily Caroline, Thomas Benton, Nancy, R.M. Johnson and James E.

Mildred and Abner’s world started falling apart in 1858, when son William L. stabbed a man to death and was sent to the penitentiary. William was an attorney and through some legal maneuvering he only served a few years in prison. Next, son Thomas Benton disappears from all records and may have died sometime before 1860. In 1863 after William's release from prison, William killed his sister Emily Caroline with a shotgun and planned to kill the rest of his siblings to insure that he would inherit all his father's estate. A posse captured him first and promptly administered frontier justice by hanging. Emily Caroline had been sitting by the bedside of her dying father and the shock of this horrible killing caused Abner died immediately. Once all the legal details were settled, the widow Mildred took her remaining children and resettled to Warrensburg, Missouri, where several of her widowed sisters had moved.

As if that weren't bad enough, Mildred and Abner’s youngest son, James, had a son Byron who in 1906 went berserk in Warrensburg and shot two policemen to death. He was killed in the gunfire exchange. Luckily Mildred did not live to see this, having died in 1904.

In the course of my research I came to know Marjory Hall, a genealogist whose husband was a descendant of this James Hall. Margery provided me not only with a great deal of information about James’s family but also some very interesting information on Mildred’s Bourn family, who also had lived in Franklin County.

Mildred was the second child of Morton and Elizabeth Greenleigh Bourn who came to Franklin County, Missouri sometime after 1835 from Frederick County, Virginia. Mildred was born on December 14, 1821. Abner was her first and only husband.

During the early part of the Civil War a Captain Lyon organized the Missouri Home Guard for the protection and preservation of peace in their respective neighborhoods. They were loosely connected to the Union Army, with some men serving in both the Army and the Home Guard. From several sources the following is a description of the Franklin county Regiment of the Home Guard Infantry.

A regiment was immediately organized in June 1861, consisting of 6 companies, a total of 500 men, headquartered in Washington, Missouri, created under authority of Capt. Lyon and placed under the command of J. W. Owens. This company was for some time secretly drilling with shotguns and rifles, getting ready to aid in the defense of their country. Col. Owens and A. W. Maupin applied in St. Louis, to Capt. Lyon, for muskets and ammunition, and their application was complied with on the condition that they would be personally responsible. Two hundred and fourteen muskets were sent out by Capt. Lyon to Washington, Missouri on the night of June 11, 1861, and with them were armed two companies, commanded, respectively, by Capt. Wilhelmi and Capt. Maupin. The former company, upon receiving their muskets, immediately took possession of Washington, and the latter marched to Union. Upon approaching the town, Capt. Maupin took the precaution to place guards on every road leading out of Union, and then marched into the town, the glistening bayonets of his 100 men making a brilliant spectacle. There were then about ten rebels in Union, and upon seeing the approach of the “lightning rods,” these rebels attempted to make their escape, but found every road closed against them, and were captured on different roads, and brought back into town. They wee admonished to desist from all attempts to interfere with the Government in defending its existence. At that time there were seven secession flags flying in the county, but before night every one of them was taken down by the secessionists themselves. Primary duties of the regiment consisted in guarding railroad bridges in Franklin county until September 1861, when the regiment was disbanded.

According to Bourn family data as passed on to me by Margery, Mildred’s father, Morton, was a prominent Southern sympathizer during the Civil War, as were many of the residents of Franklin County. On August 31, 1861, he was killed by the Missouri Home Guards in Franklin County, Missouri. When the Home Guards entered his house, Morton shot one of them. Another hit Morton in the head with the butt of his rifle. The blow knocked Morton silly and he staggered out the door. Another of the Home Guards shot and killed Morton as he attempted to climb a fence. The Home Guards warned the family that anyone else who left the house would be shot. Morton’s body remained draped over the fence for two days. Finally, one of his daughters ignored the warnings and buried her father.

So this was the event Mildred experienced between the time of stepson William’s first murder and before his second rampage that killed daughter Emily and contributed to the death of Abner. It is hard to imagine poor Mildred going through all this trauma within a five year period.

The act against her father was of a different sort, and one of those ugly things that are in the records of the Civil War period. But I think poor Mildred’s real problem was that she unfortunately married into a family that had one very bad gene. William and Byron both were deemed “insane” by the legal community.

The sources for this information were 1) A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, V.III” by Frederick H. Dyer, c 1908, p. 1341, 2) “History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford and Gasconade Cos., MO” by Goodspeed c 1888, p. 245-246; 3) “The Union Cause in St. Louis in 1861: A Historical Sketch,” by Rombauer, c 1909, p 256, and 4) “Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1863,” c 1864; p. 131-132. Also see The Index to the Civil War in Franklin County Missouri.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The correct spelling is Marjory Hall. This would be my mother. I am Justin Kevin Hall son of Gary Hall, who is the son of Warren Hall, who is the son of James Hall, Abner Hall's youngest.

Bobby Gail said...

Thanks for alerting me to the right spelling, Justin. I've called her Midge for years and wasn't so familiar with her real name. Bobby