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Uncovering the 18th Century Life of Lucy Snow Hall

Female ancestors present difficult research questions. They left fewer records than their male counterparts did. Hence the common advice to look for the men in their lives when seeking information about the lives of the women.

As I follow my path towards documenting a Mayflower ancestor this year, I realize that much of my dad’s New England ancestry lies along the female line. I must trace back to the mid-1700’s before I reach a male in his suspected Mayflower heritage.

This month I have focused on Dad’s third great-grandmother, Lucy Snow (ca. 1760-1795). She may have descended from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins, both through his daughter Constance and his son Giles. The Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, which documents the descendants of the Pilgrims, does not mention Lucy because she would have been the sixth generation.

Lucy married Gershom Hall in 1781. I did some research on him years ago and have even visited their graves in Harwich, Massachusetts.

To find out more about Lucy Snow, I began by pulling out everything I had collected on her husband Gershom. I found her mentioned twice. The cemetery record and gravestone in Harwich, Massachusetts tell us that Lucy Hall, wife of Gershom, died 8 October 1795, aged 35 years. The Hall family chapter of The Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy gave me their marriage date.

Today I have access to several online databases of New England records that I did not have the last time I looked at the life of Gershom Hall. I turned to a couple of these to find out more about Lucy.

I located the Harwich town records wherein I found a list of the children of Gershom Hall and his wife, Lucy. One re-copied version of the record pencils in the maiden name Snow for Lucy. The town shows birthdates for eight children, a son (Daniel) and seven daughters (Rosanna, my ancestor Rhoda, Thankful, Lucy, Tamsin, Olive, and Sukey).

My personal records include that name of one more daughter not mentioned in the town record. Her name was Patience, born in September 1795. Lucy died a month after Patience was born, and the little girl lived only eight months.

As I reviewed these documents, I realized that I need to locate the Hall’s marriage record because the Cape Cod history is a secondary source. I also need to find a birth registration for Lucy. Perhaps her father left a will that would help me tie the generations together.

To find everything I can on Lucy, I must follow the men in her life. Find the records created by her husband and father, perhaps her grandfathers, and I will find Lucy.

Rhoda Hall, Daughter of Lucy Snow

Last week I defined a project to link three of my female ancestors, Hannah Lincoln, Lucy Snow, and Rhoda Hall. I must do this as part of my goal to prove my family’s descent from a Mayflower ancestor. Hannah Lincoln descends through both her parents from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins.

Information posted by other researchers claims these women to be mother, daughter, and granddaughter. I have good documentation of my family line back to Rhoda Hall, my most recent ancestor among these women. My next step is to prove that Lucy was her mother.

None of the sites I have visited includes citations or links to proof of Rhoda’s relationship to Lucy Snow or Hannah Lincoln. Do I have enough proof to make the case that Rhoda was Lucy’s daughter? The Mayflower Society will not take my application unless I provide some documentation.

I began by reviewing everything I have collected about Rhoda Hall, my third great-grandmother.

According to the 1850 U.S. census for St. Joseph County, Michigan, the last one in which she appeared and the only one in which she was named, Rhoda was born about 1784 in Massachusetts. I have not yet located a birth registration for her.

Rhoda married Benjamin E. Dunbar on 2 June 1805 at Chatham, Massachusetts. The marriage record does not name her parents.

In the early 1830’s Benjamin, Rhoda, and their children relocated from Cape Cod to then-Portage County, Ohio. Benjamin died shortly after the move. After that sad event, records usually refer to Rhoda as the Widow Dunbar.

She appears in Ohio school census records and in court records through the 1830’s and 1840’s. Again, no record mentions her parents.

Rhoda passed away, probably back in Ohio, soon after the 1850 census was taken. No death record was created. She was buried next to Benjamin in the city cemetery in Stow, Ohio.

A record linking Rhoda to her father does exist. In his will dated 1841 and probated in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, Gershom Hall leaves $50 to his daughter, Rhoda Dunbar. Gershom Hall remembers his wife Jerusha in the will, but Jerusha probably was not Rhoda’s mother. Gershom married Jerusha late in life, when Rhoda was in her thirties.

Gershom had been married more than once. Secondary evidence links Rhoda to a previous wife, Lucy Snow. A Cape Cod history relates that Gershom and Lucy married in 1781. Lucy’s 1795 cemetery marker tells us she was the wife of Gershom Hall. Rhoda was born in 1784, during the time between the 1781 marriage and the 1795 death of Lucy. Perhaps Rhoda was honoring her mother when she named one of her daughters Lucy Snow Dunbar.

After reviewing this material this week, I feel pretty confident that Lucy Snow was the mother of Rhoda Hall. I will spend some time searching the Massachusetts records for Rhoda’s birth record and Lucy’s death registration to confirm the dates. I will also begin locating probate records for other family members to determine whether their relationship is spelled out anywhere else.

Based on the evidence I have collected, I have posted Lucy’s name as the mother of Rhoda Hall Dunbar in my family tree. I believe Lucy Snow, wife of Gershom Hall, was my fourth great-grandmother.