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T

homas Hale, who is the most distant provable ancestor of the Hale family located as of March 4, 2002, was most likely born between the years 1732 and 1739 in Virginia.[1] Around 1760, in either Nansemond County or Isle of Wight County, Virginia, he married Patience _____, who was born about 1745,[2] and who died around 1796, in Halifax County, North Carolina.[3]  Based upon my research and the Inventory, it appears that Thomas died around July 1777, near the present town of Hobgood, in Halifax County, North Carolina.[4] 

                          

The earliest record clearly linked to Thomas Hale is a deed from James Hodges to him for forty acres of land in Portsmouth Parish on the “Western side of the West Branch of the Elizabeth River” in Norfolk County, Virginia.  This deed said that Thomas was “of the County of Nansemond,” but nothing further about his origin. This deed, dated 20 July 1763 and recorded in book 21, page 22 of the Norfolk County, Virginia land records, is the only record of his origin being in Virginia.  See Item 1.1 in the Appendix.  Other research (not contained herein) has led me to believe that the James Hodges who sold Thomas the land in Virginia was the same James Hodges who sold him land in North Carolina and who had also moved to North Carolina.  Thus it appears likely that Thomas went there at James’ behest.

 

Thomas’ family may have moved from the Isle of Wight County, Virginia to Nansemond County, Virginia, as there was at least one Hale family in each county there.  There were also some families in Isle of Wight named Ogburn, Turner, Nelms, Pope and others whose names appear in Halifax County, North Carolina as well.  Isle of Wight borders Nansemond County on the west and, from the northern portion of the county, it would have been relatively easy for Thomas or his father to have moved from Isle of Wight to Nansemond County and then for Thomas to have moved on to Norfolk County.  All of these counties are contiguous and lie just south of the James River in the southeastern corner of Virginia and all are on the North Carolina line.  Isle of Wight is the westernmost of the counties and a fourth county, Princess Anne, separates Norfolk County from the Atlantic Ocean. See Item 1.8 in the Appendix.

 

Two subsequent deeds from a neighbor, Solomon Manning, state that he is from Norfolk County, which would obviously be true by that time.  Those later deeds, both of which are recorded in the Norfolk County records, were for 7 acres, purchased in 1764 and recorded in book 21 at page 180, and for 16 acres, purchased in 1765 and recorded in book 22 at page 148.  The three deeds called for a total of 63 acres, but when Thomas and Patience sold the land in 1775, the deed was for 50 acres, “more or less.”  Either the deeds to Thomas were wrong or he sold some land without recording any deeds prior to moving to North Carolina or he just was not sure how much land he owned at the time he sold it.

 

I also consulted a map of various land grants in Norfolk County, Virginia for the 17th Century and found 707 acres granted to Thomas Hodgis on 21 October 1684.  This map is located in the Virginia Archives in Richmond[5] and I had a copy made.  It is on two separate pages and each page is around twenty inches square.  I also obtained a copy of the Patent to such land, both of which say this land was bordered on the northeast by Langley’s Creek and by other landowners, including Thomas Hollowell, Jr., Capt. William Tucker and Jonathan Longworth on the southwest.  This Hodgis land may have bordered on the Elizabeth River, as the Longworth land did and there is a notation in the grant that 500 acres of Longworth’s land were included.  I cannot tell for certain what part of the Longworth property was included from reading the grant to Thomas Hodgis, but it does seem to be on the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River. 

 

James Hodges said he was selling Thomas some land he bought from Jeremiah Creech; I reviewed the deed from Jeremiah to James and found the land was part of the land given to Thomas Manning by his father, Solomon.  Thomas Manning then sold it to Creech, who sold it to Hodges.  The deed is recorded in book 20 at page 94 and was for 40 acres at a price of £30.  Witnesses were George Wright Burgess (I could not tell if there was a comma between Wright and Burgess) and Joseph Bruce.  Unfortunately, none of those deeds contained a legal description that would tell us precisely where the land was located.

 

In an attempt to locate Thomas in Nansemond County, I have reviewed the vestry books for both the upper and lower parishes of Nansemond County, Virginia, an area, which includes Chuckatuck Parish and Suffolk Parish.  Of the two, Chuckatuck Parish was located more closely to Portsmouth, which was in Norfolk County, however neither of the vestry books mention Thomas.  In the Chuckatuck Parish records, there was an Edward Hayl mentioned in 1754 as having received a refund of 55 bushels of tobacco for having overpaid his levy for the year before. Although the name Edward does not appear in subsequent generations, it appears to me that he may have been a very close relative of Thomas’ and, possibly was his father.  Based on the dates mentioned for Edward Hayl (also listed as Hale in other records of the Suffolk Parish Vestry Book), it may also be that there were two Edward Hales in Nansemond County with one being the father of the other.  There were also two Edward Hales in Isle of Wight County, who were father and son and whose names appear in the vestry books for Newport Parish. It is possible that they are one and the same, but the Edward in Isle of Wight did not mention any land in Nansemond County.  However, he could have been renting some land there to raise tobacco.

 

The tax records for Norfolk County in 1771 show Thomas being taxed for a black man named Demsey.  No later records in Norfolk County, Virginia or Halifax County, North Carolina show Thomas owning a slave and no record of a sale or transfer of ownership has been located.  It is possible that Demsey was a freeman who was working for Thomas at the time.  Perhaps Thomas gave some land to Demsey prior to 1775 and allowed him to live on his own and did not record the deed.  This would account for the “missing” land mentioned above.  See Item 1.2 in the Appendix.

 

The only other Hale found in Norfolk County at the time Thomas lived there was a Matthew, who is mentioned in the Hustings Court records on 22 September 1766 at page 116b in the case of James Patterson against Matthew Hale. See Item 1.9 in the Appendix.   The case was dismissed on that date and there is no other information about him.  I consider it a distinct probability that Matthew was a relative of Thomas’. (Note that there was also a Matthew Hailes in Edgecombe County, North Carolina who witnessed a deed on 17 February 1761.)[6]  I have seen no other land records or court records that mention any Hales in Norfolk before Thomas arrived, nor until some years after he left.

 

In February 1775, Thomas and Patience sold their land in Portsmouth Parish, Virginia to move to Halifax County, North Carolina.  The recorded deed shows that Thomas was able to sign his name (he signed it “Thomas Hail” according to the deed book), while Patience signed with her mark.  The deed for 50 acres (not 63 as it should have been) to William Hobgood[7] (which is a name closely associated with Halifax County, North Carolina), recorded in Norfolk County in Book 27 at page 12, states Patience was unable to appear at court to waive her dower rights and that the court sent emissaries to question whether the sale was of her own volition (as required by the laws of the day).  No reason was stated for her inability to appear. Was she pregnant or ill?

 

Thomas is not mentioned again in Virginia or North Carolina, except in the posthumous deed to Patience from James Hodges.  The family’s destination, Halifax County, North Carolina, was southwest of Norfolk and it would have been quite an undertaking to move there on the primitive roads with carts and wagons.  There were swamps and rivers to cross.  Nothing is known about his life in Virginia or North Carolina for that matter.  Only the deeds and his inventory and list of property sold from his estate even mention his name.  Without those records he may never have been known to have existed.  At least he would have not been known by later generations.

 

Between about May and July 1777, Thomas died in Halifax County of smallpox. Death from smallpox is inferred from a letter, dated 3 June 1777, written to the Governor of North Carolina, from a Colonel John Williams, stating that a rendezvous scheduled for Halifax had to be relocated as the “small pox is near Halifax.”  This letter is in the Executive Letter Book and reprinted in The State Records of North Carolina, Volume II, page 486.  Of course, having seen the very swampy land where they lived in Halifax County, it’s possible that he was killed by a water moccasin or any number of other ways.

 

Thomas left no Will.  The only extant records of his estate are an Inventory, dated August Court, 1777 and an Account of Sales, dated 22 October 1777.  The originals of these documents have not been found and were obviously discarded by the courts many years ago.  The only copies are the transcripts in the court records, now in the Archives in Raleigh, North Carolina. [See Halifax County Inventories and Estates 1773 - 1779 C.R. 047 514.1, page 207 and pages 250 through 253]  See also Items 2.1 and 2.2 in the Appendix.

 

In the Inventory, Patience, who signed with her mark, is listed as the Administratrix of the estate, thus tying this information to the 1778 deed to the “Heirs of Thomas Hail” (discussed below).  Thomas owned 7 books at his death, at least one of which was the Virginia Laws; the others were apparently religious books, including hymn books and a family bible.  As he also owned two writing desks and an inkstand, it is clear that he was literate.  I would like to believe that he was a lawyer, however, many  “planters” of that era practiced their own medicine and law and the well to do of the era had to own books and, especially law books, to be considered well to do.  While no record of his being admitted to the bar in Norfolk, Virginia or Halifax, North Carolina has been located, he did obtain a judgment on July 17, 1766 in Norfolk County Court for £4..9..0 plus unspecified costs and expenses against John Hollowell (another North Carolina name). The record does not state he acted as his own attorney, but no other attorney is mentioned.  However, I’ve always believed that the absence of proof is not the proof of absence!

 

In addition he possessed a sword, a gun and a bayonet.  To me, the gun and bayonet meant he or a member of his immediate family was a solder, and that that person may have been in the Continental Line as a regular soldier.  If it were another member of the family, it could relate to the French and Indian War. Records of that period indicate that very few militiamen possessed bayonets when they were called to duty in the early days of the war.  As an aside, it should be noted that a gun and bayonet were originally used for hunting rather than warfare.  The bayonet was used when the one shot had been expended and a bear or other wild beast happened to decide to attack the hunter.  By the time of the American Revolution, the bayonet had become a standard weapon in warfare. 

 

Swords, unlike guns and bayonets, indicated status, both civilian and military.  In the military, or at least in the American army during the Revolutionary War, a sword indicated the rank of sergeant or higher.  In civilian life, it represented a symbol of status.  They were actually used for protection at night in Norfolk and other cities, where crime in the form of armed robberies was prevalent.  Therefore, possession of a sword, combined with the gun and bayonet, gives even more credence to the probability that Thomas Hale was a soldier, possibly in the Revolutionary War, but perhaps earlier in the French and Indian War.  It is by no means certain and documentary proof has not been found in the North Carolina or U.S. records.  It is possible that he served from Virginia, but no records have yet been located to prove this either.  This is not to say they do not exist and perhaps they will be located someday.  Of course, it is also possible he inherited these items from his father or another relative as posited in item 1.8 in the Appendix.

 

The only record of a Thomas Hale in the North Carolina Line was one who held the rank of Deputy Wagon Master General and who moved to or was from Washington or Sullivan County, Tennessee, where he was finally paid moneys owed him for his service long after Thomas had died and Ogburn had moved to Hawkins County, Tennessee.  As he appears to have been living after 1800, I have discounted the possibility that he was our Thomas Hale.  As late as 1839, there was a Major Thomas Hale living in Hawkins County, Tennessee.  He is mentioned in a Revolutionary War Pension application relating to Lazarus Jones, for whom Ogburn and Lovina gave affidavits, however, their affidavits did not mention that Thomas Hale. See Item 3.20 in the Appendix.  I have found that there was also a Thomas Hale in Washington County around 1810, who was an Ensign in the Militia.  Perhaps this is the same Thomas who was the Deputy Wagon Master General, but that is questionable, depending upon his age.

 

Thomas’ other inventoried assets included sheep, cows, horses and farming implements. The Inventory also contains listings of household goods as well as the farming items.  For example, there were three chairs and 4 knives and forks.  It is presumed that the listings for dishes and plates are for those of some value and not every plate they had, although research indicates that even among the “well-to-do” families, members shared plates and drinking tankards.  It also appears that children in many families stood while they ate.  

 

They had only three beds for a family of eleven (see the 1786 Census of Halifax County), according to the Account of Sales.  They owned a cradle, so it becomes clear that this was a young family.  Patience bought many of the items from the estate, including the three beds and the cradle (she probably still had at least one infant), but there is no indication of where she got the money.  Perhaps she did not have to pay actual cash, as she was technically the seller.  James Hodges, whose daughter, Sarah, married Thomas Hale, Jr., and who moved to Smith County, Tennessee with them, bought the gun and bayonet, as well as a bible (so much for finding a family history written in the old family bible as part of the Hodges family left Tennessee and moved to Texas and places west), and Samuel Gates bought the sword.  James Hodges died around 1815 in Smith County.

 

Jeremiah Nelms, who was a justice of the peace at various times, purchased the Virginia Laws (perhaps more than one volume), Patience bought a “Lott of Books” (no number) and John Strickland bought a Hymn Book.  Most of these purchasers appear again in the 1790 Census as living in the vicinity.  Lemuel Hogun, who bought a snuff bottle, was perhaps the same as the Captain Hogun, who bought a 1/2-pint pot. Lemuel moved to Smith County Tennessee at the time Thomas Hale, Jr. moved there.  This Hogun was the son of a Revolutionary War General and received over 10,000 acres in Tennessee for his father's service.  He owned around 50 slaves and lived near Thomas and Patience in Halifax County.  John Strickland was also a next-door neighbor, as he was the son of Marmaduke Strickland mentioned in the various deeds.

 

A pair of cart wheels (which probably included all the axles and running gear) and 8 head of hogs were purchased by  “Mr. Hail.” There is no other note as to who he was.  I would like to believe it was Patience purchasing items for Ogburn, so he could continue to run the farm as the elder male child, even though he would still have been a 13 year old minor.

 

They also sold 3 panes of window glass to Benjamin Dickens for 6s. 5p. and one of the two teapots to a Giles Randolph. (Is he related to Thomas Jefferson?)  While only one candlestick is listed, there was quite a bit of pewter, two teapots and a looking glass, all of which indicate a family with some wealth.  The additional aspect of his having owned two desks and an inkstand add to the indication of wealth or status in the community and also lend credence to the possibility that he may have been an attorney.

 

In 1778, James Hodges of Halifax County, North Carolina deeded 140 acres of land to the “Heirs of Thomas Haile, deceased.”  The land was located near the present town of Hobgood in Halifax County.  The deed stated that Thomas had agreed to purchase the land prior to his death, but no contract was recorded, nor was one mentioned in the Inventory or Account of Sales.  Because of the deeds between the James Hodges of Norfolk and the one in Halifax, it seems likely that the James Hodges of Halifax County was the son of the James Hodges who sold the land to Thomas in Norfolk County.  The deed to the Heirs of Thomas Haile, deceased, dated 17 March 1778 is recorded in Halifax County deed records, Book 14, Page 144.  See the Appendix, Item 2.3

 

To place Thomas historically, he was born before the French and Indian War of 1754 to 1763. (It was called the Seven Year’s War in Europe.)  He was probably old enough to have participated and perhaps that is when he got the gun and bayonet.  The French and Indian War was only harassment by the French until 1754, when a Virginia Militia officer named George Washington was sent west to see what the French were doing.  When he did find some Frenchmen, he attacked.  Unfortunately, one who was killed was a diplomat and the French did not approve.  Washington was attacked and retreated to a valley, where he built a fort he called Fort Necessity.  A very unfortunate location as the French held the hills above the fort.  However, reinforcements to his 150 man force ultimately defended the fort.

 

Thomas and Patience moved from Virginia in February 1775.  This was two months before the battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusets, which formally began the Revolutionary War.  However, prior to this time, there were hostilities with the “Shawanase and Cherokee” tribes in the western part of Virginia.  This was known as Dunmore’s War, after the then governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore.  These hostilities ended for the most part at the end of 1774.[8]  Norfolk was becoming a hotbed and would have been somewhat of a worrisome place to raise children, or, for that matter, to be an adult of military age.

 

Patience: After Thomas died, she purchased the 140 acres for their children.  The deed said the land was in behalf of the orphans, according to a former bargain between James and Thomas.  The consideration was paid by the “administratrix, his widow.”  The Account of Sales showed Patience Hail as the purchaser of most of the estate and she signed the Inventory.  Under the laws of North Carolina of the time, the widow was named administratrix of an intestate estate, clearly showing that the Patience Hail who purchased the 140 acres of land was the widow of Thomas Hale, who died in 1777.  Naturally, this is also confirmed by the deed made when they sold their land in Norfolk County in 1775.

 

The 1786 State Census of Halifax County shows Patience living in District 3 on Deep Creek. See Item 2.7 in the Appendix. There are 9 children living with her, including one male, age 21 to 60, who was most likely Ogburn.  The 1786 Tax Lists for Halifax County shows Ogburn being taxed as the owner of 140 acres on Deep Creek. With the exception of 1787, where neither he nor Patience is listed, he was taxed on that land in subsequent years as well.  He also sold the same land when he left for Tennessee in 1797.

 

I tend to believe that her maiden name was Ogburn, based on the probability that both she and Thomas were from either Isle of Wight or Nansemond County, Virginia and that there was at least one family with the surname of Ogburn in each county.  There is also an administration for the estate of a Captain Thomas Ogbourne in 1785 in Norfolk.  The records show Captain Ogburn owned items in Nansemond, including a ship with her mast and spars and a parcel of blocks, valued at £1,500, for a total personal estate there of £1,603..16..6.  He also had a “suit of sails for a ship completed to bolting” at Crafts & Coopers, Sail Makers in Portsmouth.  He had clothing and other personal property in Dinwiddie County valued at £282..2..9 ¼, as well as £225..1..0 ½ in Norfolk County. He may not have owned any real property in any of those counties.  All of these documents are listed in the book of appraisements for Norfolk County, volume 2 at pages 44, 76 and 77.  The name is spelled Ogbourne, Ogburn and Ogburne in those documents.

 

I have considered that her maiden name could also have been Haynes, as there seems to have been a close connection between Christopher Haynes and Ogburn Hale; more so than just the marriage of their children would suppose. However, as discussed below under Ogburn’s wife, I believe the connection between the Haynes and Hale families was the result of each having married a Turner sister. Another possibility is that her maiden name was Alsobrook (Christopher Haynes married Mary Alsobrook before he married Francis Turner in 1793.  See Item 3.18 in the Appendix)  I believe the given name of Ogburn had to be a family name.  While it’s possible that it was Ogburn’s grandmother’s maiden name, it is more likely to have been Patience’s father’s name that she wanted to keep alive and that complies with the naming system of the time.  However, I must also concede that there is at least one other possibility, which would be Jones (based on Ogburn’s and Lovina’s affidavits in Lazarus Jones’ pension file).

 

She may have remarried or died after the 1786 Census of Halifax County, but she probably was the second female living with Ogburn in the 1790 Census.  No marriage records have been found for her remarriage and nothing has yet been located in the deed or probate records.  Ogburn and Thomas junior probably did not leave Halifax until after her death.



[1]  The birth date is estimated as no records have been located, however, all indications are that he was from either Nansemond County or Isle of Wight County in Virginia.

[2]  Estimated from Thomas' approximate birth date and the fact that she still had a crib as of 1777, so there must have been young children then.

[3]  She may have been listed in the 1790 Census with Ogburn and his wife as there were two females over 16 listed there.  The date is estimated and presumes she died before Ogburn moved to Tennessee in 1797.

[4]  Estimated from the date of the Inventory.

[5] The Lower Parishs of Nansemond County, VA with Adjoinining Portions of Norfolk County, Copyright, 1948 by J. H. Granberry.

[6] Solomon Turner to Moses Horn  Book 7 at page 240.  The land was  on the south side of the Roanoke River in the Cypress Swamp.

[7] See Norfolk County Will Book II [1772-1788] for the Will of William Hobgood of Portsmouth Parish, dated February 22, 1785 in which he left his son “the plantation whereon I now dwell, being the land my father William Hobgood, dec’d purchased of Thomas Hail.”

[8] See The Order Book and Related Papers of the Common Hall of the Borough of Norfolk, Virginia, 1736-1798,Virgina State Library, Richmond, VA 1979, edited by Brent Tarter, page 181 and Executive Journals, Council of Colonial Virginia, Vol. VI, (June 20 –1754 — May 3, 1775)  Virginia State Library, Richmond, VA, 1966, edited by Benjamin J. Hillman, page 660.