By Barb Kromphardt
SPRING VALLEY -- A mere two years after Henry Thomas became the first permanent white settler in Bureau County, another white man came to the county searching for a home.
While Thomas was a young man, looking to the future, Edward H. Hall had already secured his place in history. Born in North Carolina and subsequently a farmer in Georgia, Kentucky and Indiana, Hall fought for the United States in the Revolutionary War.
Recently, the Princeton-Illinois Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution paid tribute to Hall, who is believed to be the only Revolutionary War soldier buried in the county.
According to the book "History of Bureau County, Illinois," edited by H. C. Bradsby and published in 1885, Hall, his family and son-in-law, Henry Miller, moved to Dubois County, Ind., in 1818, where they farmed for 14 years.
Then it was time to move on.
"From some members of the Hall family they heard of the beauties of the Illinois prairies, and in 1830 Henry Miller, Edward Hall and the latter's son-in-law Gilbert Kellum made claims in Bureau County," the book recounts.
After the three families arrived in Bureau County, Hall settled in Selby Township in August 1832.
While here, Hall also served as a circuit riding minister, serving up to 12 congregations, including one which held services at the old Miller School, still located on the western edge of Spring Valley.
According to the book, "In the fall of 1835 he removed to Hall Township and lived on his son-in-law's farm in Section 33, where he died June 28, 1838, aged eighty years. He was interred on the farm and was the first to be buried in the spot that he had selected for his resting place, where also his wife and quite a number of the pioneers of Hall Township repose."
"He was a Revolutionary soldier" is written on the tomb of Edward Hall, a eulogy suggested by his grandson, Henry J. Miller. According to the book, Hall participated in most of the hard fought battles and was under the command of Gen. George Washington.
Other records show Hall enlisted several times, serving a number of three-month stints. He was once taken prisoner by the Tories but managed to escape before they reached their encampment.
Hall was soon joined in Miller Cemetery by his wife, Rachel Barnes, who died Sept. 10, 1838, at the age of 79 years. She was the mother of eight children: Ransom, Reason B., William, Polly Scott, John, Sally Miller, Betsy Kellum and Edward Hall.
Sally Miller later joined her parents in their eternal resting spot, and eventually, Hall Township was named after the family.
Last Saturday's ceremony, which featured the unveiling of markers honoring Hall, his wife and daughter, was five years in the making.
"When you do anything for the DAR, you just don't up and do it," DAR member Beverly Larson said. "Everything must be proven."
Larson said one of the DAR's goals is to find Revolutionary War soldiers and mark their graves, as well as the graves of their wives and daughters. But before the local chapter could mark Hall's grave, members had to prove the facts of his birth, death and service in the war. This was done through a variety of old letters and documents, as well as testimony from when Hall testified in Putnam County on behalf of another Revolutionary War soldier.
Saturday's ceremony included a color guard provided by the Spring Valley American Legion Dominic Oberto Post and Taps provided by the Ladd American Legion Harold E. Russell Post.
Members of the Hall family were present, including speaker Brett Hall. Also representing the Hall family were Amy Galetti-Bosi, Jane Mills and Lance Hall, who unveiled the markers placed around the tombstone.
The ceremony was also marked by the presence of Silent Witnesses, representing the Sons of the American Revolution, an early American pioneer and an American Indian.
"It's something we thought of because they were present at the time of the war," Larson said. "They were overseeing our respect and honor of an honorable man."
While Brett Hall was speaking of his ancestor, his comments were appropriate to many, as Memorial Day approaches once again.
"I can make no claim to, nor can I justify any pride in his successes and accomplishments, any more than I bear any blame for his transgressions," Hall said. "However, any man who goes to war deserves the respect of those generations who follow and enjoy the freedoms purchased with the blood and sacrifice of our youngest and finest."