Monday, August 24, 2015


Not all is what it seems.  It's really hard to build a person from a few documents and a bit of speculation.  If this young man pictured above is truly Robert Livingston Jeffries, M.D., then he was my 2nd great granduncle, for what it is worth.

Apparently, if the document in the Provost Marshal's file at the National Archives is correct, he started out as a Rebel Spy in the Civil War.  He was a member of the well-known Achilles Whitehead Jeffries family in Union, Franklin County, Missouri.  His father was a prosperous farmer, attorney and slaveholder of 10 or 11 slaves.  The document referred to was related to his arrest by the Federal forces.

As one reads through the documents, it would appear that he spent some time in custody in Cincinnati, Ohio and then for health reasons he asked to be released.  He signed a loyalty oath in order to effect this release and apparently shortly thereafter, he became a spy for the U.S. Government.  He told his father in a letter (referred to in a different letter) that he was working for the Secret Service.

This was in late 1864.  At that time he headed to Paris, Kentucky, where after a short time he was set upon by some "guerillas," robbed and then shot, dying on the spot.  His body was taken to a nearby residence and he was given a decent burial.  The story is told by military documents flying back and forth between Kentucky and Cincinnati, and sad letters of inquiry from his father, Achilles W.

It appears in these documents that the guerillas were caught, 2 killed and 2 captured.  Those captured were tried and found guilty.

There are several interesting books that speak to Provost Marshal documents that are not yet digitized and that help this information to seem correct.  However, there also is a book written by Ellsworth (name appearing under the photo above) that varies so widely from the National Archive material that it is hard to even be sure that the picture above, which is in the holdings of the Thomas Henry Hines holdings at the University of Kentucky, is, in fact, Robert L. Jeffries.

It is true that both sides used lots of spies, and it is true that many spies changed sides - probably because it was in their own best interest to do so.  Because this relative is so distant from me -- his sister Martha Jeffries is my 2nd great grandma - I will not be doing any further research on Robert, or on his brother Benjamin Franklin Jeffries or his brother Andrew Jackson Jeffries - and other more commonly named siblings.  I'm moving on.... but I surely do think Robert Livingston Jeffries qualifies as an Immortal Nobody.

And in case you don't know who Robert Livingston Jeffries was named after, do a Google search on Robert Livingston and you will find he is right in there with the others - and he was in the right place at the right time to help secure the Louisiana Purchase for the U.S.

Monday, August 10, 2015


St. Louis [MO] Republican - July 22, 1862


A few days ago mention was made in the Republican of the killing of Miss Emily Hall, a  young lady of Union, Franklin county, by her brother, Legrand Hall, who shot her with a musket.  The following facts, which we learned yesterday from a gentleman acquainted with the circumstances show that the murder was one of the most cruel and cold blooded of any that has ever taken place.  It appears that the murder has for years been regarded as a desperate character. A few years ago he was convicted of the murder of Andrew Bullock, and sentenced to the penitentiary.  Shortly after he was pardoned out by Gov. Stewart, at the request of a Circuit Judge.  His father recently made his will, and gave $500 more to his two other children than to Legrand.  The latter took offense at this, and determined to have revenge.  He endeavored to make an arrangement with an old negro to kill the whole family on the 4th of July, but the negro declined.  Mr. Hall, the father, was on his death bed on the night of the murder, and his children, including Legrand, were present.

Late in the evening Legrand went out of the death chamber and soon after called his sister Emily to join him.  The sister had no sooner stepped outside the room than she was shot dead by her brother, who then fled.  The citizens of the vicinity soon after turned out and succeeded in capturing him, and he was lodged in jail.  The day was fixed for the preliminary examination, and he appeared in Court provided with law books and papers to defend himself.  The examination had progressed but a short time, when he was seized by the infuriated citizens.  A rope was tied about his neck, and he was swung up on the limb of a tree, and thus speedily and summarily executed.


Things you might need to know if this is YOUR relative:

The father's name was ABNER HALL.  He died shortly after Emily was shot.
The murderer's name was William LeGrand Hall. He was an attorney
Miss Emily's name was Caroline Emily.

William was Abner's oldest child.  John Hall (my great-great-grandfather), was Abner's 2nd child.
After William killed Emily, he set out for John's house (John was NOT at his father's bedside) intent on killing him next, probably because his father had appointed John executor of his considerable estate.  Obviously I would not be here if William had succeeded in killing John.

There is a slightly different version of this story in the well-known book on Franklin County by Herman Kiel.  That story ends this way:  "Hall's body was left to hang about three hours, when it was cut down and buried in the old graveyard about one-third of a mile northeast of Union.  There is no doubt in the minds of many of the best citizens that the victim of this lynching was insane."

It is possible that there was insanity in the family.  In an earlier blog I wrote of Byron Hall who killed two policemen - and he was the son of Abner's youngest son James A. Hall.

I have set no requirement for those whom I choose to be my Immortal Nobodies.  Some are my family and some are not.  Some are "good" and some are not.  I am ok with adding poor William to the list.

The picture by Shar (above) is one of an unidentified stone in the Old Union Poor Cemetery.  I do not believe William got a stone.  I do not know where any of the Halls who lived and died in Union, Missouri were buried.  There's much I know, and a whole lot I don't know, which is just the way genealogy is.