When Mary (Hall) Rhine, the wife of William Rhine, both of Washington County, Illinois, died on 20 May 1898 at the age of eighty-nine, she was the mother of fourteen, grandmother of thirty-one, great-grandmother of thirty-nine, and great-great-grandmother of four children.
Mary is presumed to be the daughter of Isaac Hall (1776-1852) and sister of Jonathan, Isaac, and Elithan Hall, all of whom ultimately settled in Washington County, Illinois. Her identity—both as a Hall and as a member of this particular Hall family—remains unconfirmed, but there are compelling connections.
Mary was said to have been born in Montgomery County, Tennessee, in 1809, and married William Rhine circa 1825 in what is now Saline County, Illinois, where they spent the first years of their married life. Her presumed eldest brother, Jonathan, owned a neighboring parcel of land, and another neighbor, James Hampton, husband of Mary Elizabeth Hall, was believed to be kin. In 1832, William Rhine served with James Hampton’s Company in the Black Hawk War, enlisting in Gallatin County—as did Jonathan Hall, Mary’s presumed brother.
In the 1840s, William and Mary acquired land in what was known as Three Mile Prairie in Washington County. The first parcel purchased was located catercorner from land owned by Isaac Hall (whether this was Mary’s presumed father or brother is unknown) and the additional parcels that they purchased in the years to come were all located within the vicinity of land owned by Mary’s presumed brothers Jonathan, Isaac, and Elithan Hall. Worth note is that in 1868, following Elithan’s death, William Rhine received approximately ten dollars owed to him from his estate. Indeed, the Hall brothers, like Mary, all lived out the rest of their lives in Washington County, and she was not the only one to live to an advanced age; Isaac, too, lived well into his eighties and was said to have enjoyed long walks even in his later years.
Even if it turns out that Mary was not a member of this Hall family, her obituary relates experiences that may have been common among southern Illinois settlers of the 1810s:
“Mrs. Rhine was one of our county’s and state’s oldest settlers, having come to the state with her parents, who settled in Salene [sic] county before Illinois was admitted to statehood. The relating of her experiences during the early days in this state would make interesting pages of history. She had seen the great state of Illinois in its natural and undeveloped state. She had witnessed the scalping of her playmates and neighbors by the unruly Indians when the settlers were compelled to live in forts as a protection against the Red Men.”
Mary and her family, of course, were among those whose westward movements displaced and antagonized local Indigenous communities. If she was indeed a daughter of Isaac Hall, it is estimated that she and her family remained in Tennessee at least until 1813, when Mary’s presumed brother Elithan was said to have been born there, and arrived in Illinois at some point before it achieved statehood in 1818.
A number of Mary’s descendants appear as autosomal DNA matches to descendants of her presumed brothers Jonathan, Isaac, and Elithan Hall, lending further credibility to their connection. However, additional research is necessary to confirm their relationship and formally add to the Hall family story.
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