Monday, July 22, 2013

Adventure with the Sea Captain

Capt. Palmer Hall from the Bowler Genealogy  p. 83 (out of Copyright)
Adventure with the Sea Captain
Summer of the Sea Captains

This summer didn't start out to be about sea captains. It started out with a research problem I have. To solve my problem I am convinced that I have to know more about my Hall family because this surname (from Rhode Island) keeps surfacing and isn't directly solvable with vital records. It goes around and around like the Flying Horse Carousel at the Watch Hill beach. My head is spinning.

My maternal great grandfather, alive in my lifetime, (shown in this photo at my parents wedding in Dec 1946, third from left) mysteriously lived with Capt. Palmer Hall and his 2nd wife Nancy Bowler plus another woman (who I expect was a housekeeper). He's 14 years old in this 1880 census and a SERVANT in this household. I wasn't convinced it was him for years and years. But, now I have more sources to work with and  I am better at searching for the right information. A few months ago, I decided to work that census record and figure out if Capt. Hall is part of my family.

You know how it goes, I found a tree at with the above photo in it (with no attached source). I left a message for the tree owner and oh, so, ever patiently waited. During this time, I decided that because Capt. Hall's mother was a Palmer, that this was going to somehow fit into my tree so that I could figure it out. It meant that I also had to find out how my existing Hall line fit into the genealogical puzzle since it meant I had to investigate all the early Hall men in that line (again!)

The 1940 census tells me that great grandpa Barber completed the 8th grade. So, that would be about 1879. I also know that his mother, Hannah Josephine Tourgee Barber, died in 1881, leaving her husband, the Civil War Hero and mariner, James Albert Barber  with seven sons. One is an infant (born in 1879) and one dies in 1882. I have new evidence that tells me that James Albert Barber's step-mother must have rushed in to help out as I expected. She already had her hands full with a bunch of kids of her own. Yikes.

If this is correct then I can see why my great grandfather went to work and found a place to live. He was the oldest. Capt. Palmer Hall and James Albert Barber must have known each other. They shared a love of the sea and life-long ties to Westerly, Rhode Island. James's mother, Phebe Eliza Hall was the line I'd already worked on. Everybody in Westerly knows each other.

Finally, the person with his photo told me he got it "from the Bowler genealogy".  Ah, the second wife of Capt. Hall. I located it easily at That's when it got interesting but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back to the graveyard and do our research.

The Bowler Genealogy at

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