Remember When Your Mother Said “Don’t Trust Everything You Read?”

Most of us newbies made the same mistakes, “back in the day”.  We viewed trees or Googled our ancestors and added everything found, as “fact”, to our tree.

Years later we are still correcting errors added from those damn trees!

But what about published books?  They are correct, right?  NO!!!!!!!

Unless the book lists sources, and you see the source with your own eyes, you should be leery of publications. Obviously some are better than others.  I trust NGSQ articles, recently accepted DAR application (many of the older ones are unsourced) or  publications by well known genealogists like Thomas W Jones, CG℠, CGL℠ or Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG℠, CGL℠.  But if possible, I still seek out original sources for my files.

One that has been a problem for me for a long time? A book: “The Halls of New England. Genealogical and biographical”. By David B. Hall, published Albany, N.Y., Printed for the author by J. Munsell’s Sons, 1883.

This “Bible” which has been used by many New England, Hall researchers, for generations, is riddled with errors.

George Hall, was an early Taunton, Massachusetts settler, who’s ancestry is given on pages 567-648.  As of this writing, 195 tree users, copied the text exactly!

John Hall.jpg


The writer lists a son of George Hall as:

(Lt) John b. 1640 d. 1693 m. Hannah Penniman, their children:

  1. John b. 1672
  2. Joseph b. 1674
  3. James b. 1675
  4. Benjamin b. 1677
  5. Sarah b. 1678 (died young)
  6. Jacob b. 1680
  7. Hannah b. 1682, m. Samuel Haskins

He then goes on to claim that John and Hannah’s son John d. 1768 (age 96) m. Elizabeth King, their children:

  1. John d. 1766
  2. Judith m. John Tisdale
  3. Phillip and perhaps others

A review of Bristol County, Massachusetts land deeds (available free at offers alternate information.

Book 57/Page 110  – This deed indicates that Lt. John’s son, John, was deceased by 1747 – so he couldn’t have died in 1768!  It further indicates that Lt. John’s daughter Hannah was in 1747 married to John Andrews (which may or may not be her first husband, but this husband is not listed in Hall’s narrative – he lists Samuel Haskins).

We don’t know why all of the grandchildren of James are named and only one grandchild, John, is named of John.  Were Phillip and Judith actually associated with this family?

….Agreement made 22 May 1747 by Joseph & Jacob Hall of Raynham, yeoman; Benjamin Hall of Raynham cordwainer John Andrews of Norton yeoman and Hannah his wife children of Lt John Hall late of Taunton and John Hall of Raynham, yeoman, grandson of the deceased and James Hall, Nathan Hall,  Marey Hall, Edmund Hall, David Hall all of Raynham husbandman and grandchildren of deceased and coheirs, children of James Hall deceased late of Raynham who was the son of Lt John Hall deceased have come to Agreement on division of land…

The following page continues item #5 states….John Hall in right of his father John Hall deceased….

deed 1.jpg

The deed was not filed until thirty years later, in 1777; this might be the source of Hall’s confusion. It is typical for deeds to be recorded years later – your ancestors may have lived a distance from the courthouse, couldn’t afford the filing fees, just didn’t bother to file until they were ready to sell the land or their heirs were settling the estate.

Book 24 page 72 and page 74 & book 27 page 557– give us further information. It appears that if John, Judith and Phillip are Lt John Hall’s grandchildren, then their father John died before 19 June 1729 – at least 40 years before Hall’s notation of 1768!  These pages seem to indicate that John’s daughter did marry John Tisdale.  But we discover a second unmentioned daughter, Mehitable, who married Nehemiah Dean. We also discover that Lt. John’s widow, Hannah, likely remarried a man named Haskins

dated 19 June 1729…..John and Judith Tisdale of Taunton have received of our brother John Hall of Taunton the sum of 130 pounds which we receive as our full part and portion out of the estate of John Hall late of said Taunton (our honored father) who died intestate and also out of the real estate of Hannah Haskins late of said Taunton deceased (our honored grandmother)…..

dated 26 July 1733…..Nehemiah and Mehitable Dean his wife, both of Norton have received of our brother John Hall of Raynham 130 pounds full part of honorable father John Hall of Taunton deceased and grandmother Hannah Haskins late of Taunton….

dated 29 June 1739…Phillip Hall of Raynham, yeoman, for 200 pounds paid by John Hall my brother of the same town of Raynham aforesaid yeoman – rights in estate of Honored father John Hall late of Taunton and grandmother Hannah Haskins late of Taunton

…. wait Haskins – grandmother Hannah Haskins? maybe Hannah (Penniman) Hall married Samuel Haskins?? vs. her daughter marrying him as Hall’s book surmises?  Hannah born abt 1682 would have been “marrying age” (20) in 1702, but it seems more likely, based on the language in these deeds, that her mother Hannah (Penniman) Hall married Samuel!

hannah marriage

Book 16, page 310 – tells us that John was alive in 1700 when the deed was signed,  but we don’t know if he was alive in 1725 when the deed was filed.

….Hannah Hall widow of Lieutenant John Hall deceased and her sons Joseph, James, Benjamin & Jacob all of Taunton, for 5 pounds to the eldest son John of said John Hall deceased…twenty acres of land…Taunton, eastward from the meeting house….six acres….on the Neck Plain so called and ten acres of land bounded Eastward by 6 acres of plain and westward by the land of Phillip King and four acres of land joining to the northward side. Ten acres of land is bounded Eastward, Northward and Westward by the land of Thomas Dean which twenty acres of the land by agreement and settlement of the estate of the above Lieutenant John Hall deceased did belong to the above Hannah Hall during her natural life…. but now said Hannah Hall and her sons….grant to said John Hall….

deed 2

I did find the probate record of Hannah Haskins, 1726, in Taunton, which seems to mention the “Hall Division” and names Jacob, John and James.  This seems to indicate that Hannah (Hall) Penniman did remarry and thus we are pretty sure John, father of John, Judith, Mehitable and Phillip is the son of Lt. John since grandmother Hannah Haskins is named in the deeds. It further seems plausible as John did have brothers Jacob and James…..  Of course additional research is needed.

[Note: Bristol book 17: page 167 dated November 1926 where Benjamin sells land of his deceased mother to his brother in law John Andrews is further evidence that that Hannah Haskins who’s estate was settled in 1726 was his mother and that Hannah married to John Andrews, his sister].

Hannah Haskins

Hannah probate

Further examination of probate records reveals a John Hall junior of Taunton with a sister Hannah and wife Elizabeth who died about 1708. This is likely Lt John Hall’s son.  He passed a 60 years before the date attributed to his death in Hall’s book – perhaps a typo on Hall’s part, yet copied into at least 195 trees and likely hundreds more on other sites and private genealogies!

There is quite a bit of research that can be done which could add further details and perhaps correct additional errors, including an analysis of the land descriptions.

My interest is to examine all the Hall deeds to identify the parents of my ancestor Brian Hall b. 1727 to John 3rd and Mary.  Brian was a cordwainer (shoemaker) who may have apprenticed with a relative.  I examined this set of deeds with interest, since Lt. John’s son Benjamin Hall is identified as a cordwainer, who would have been about 50 when Brian was born.


How to find Massachusetts Land Records in Bristol County

Click here, Select Bristol County, and open first the Grantor Index (seller), then the Grantee Index (buyer) for the time period you are seeking. Make note of the book and page number for your ancestors.

Grantor Index for Brian Hall

grantor Brian.jpg

Return to the original link, select the appropriate book # and then search for the page.

It is faster to search on the Registry of Deeds, just type book and page under “Recorded Land” site:; here you can only view the images.  They are $1 to download, but free to view and free to download on the Family Search site.




One response to this post.

  1. I figure almost everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but that does make things difficult!



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