Who was the Father of William Wallace Hallford?


I am a descendent of William Wallace Hallford, born in 1839 in Wayne County, Tennessee. In my research to document my ancestors, the attempt to document the father of William has been a difficult, if not impossible task. I know from William’s pension records that his mother was Jinsey Pruitt and he had one older brother John R. Hallford. I am able to document birthdates and locations but Hallford family researchers have long been frustrated in attempts to discover Jinsey’s husband and the father of William and John. This writing is to document the results of my research and my conclusions,


Why are no marriage records available to clarify this question? I believe the answer is in the following document.

Wayne County, Tennessee
Reconstructed Marriage Records
1820 - 1857

Last Updated 3 March 2006

The marriage records for Wayne County, Tennessee covering the period from the beginning of the county in 1820 until January 1857 have been lost.  The original bond books, eleven volumes in number covering the 1820 - 1870 period were reportedly destroyed by order of the County Court in 1916-1918, although no record of that order has been found in the minutes of the court. It was reported that the bond books had been stored in the attic of the 1905 courthouse under the belfry. The story goes that the trap door leading from the attic to the belfry/clock tower was left open and it rained in upon the books and other records stored in the attic. The books and records subsequently molded and rotted and were deemed unfit to keep so they were taken out on the Eagle Creek (Old Columbia Central) Turnpike and burned.

The license and minister's returns book, 1820 - 1857, which recorded the actual marriage, was supposedly still in the County Court Clerk's office as late as the 1930's. However, no record of that book has turned up after that period and it was not located among the records which had been stored in the attic of the 1905 courthouse.

In 1970 and 1971, the late Charles D. Gallaher and Edgar D. Byler, III started searching through all the boxes of loose records which had been stored in the attic.  Three separate piles of records were made on the attic floor: original wills, marriage licenses, and loose county court files. Among these loose records were numerous marriage licenses, wills and records from the period 1820 - 1860. Those piles of records were still in their respective areas when the 1905 courthouse burned on 7 January 1972.   All records which had been stored and which were still located in the attic were destroyed.  Only one marriage bond and license from those found in the attic survived and it exists only as a xerox copy of the original.

As a result of the above stated circumstances, any record of the marriage of Jinsey to her Hallford husband has been lost, making it impossible to document the event. We must then rely on circumstantial evidence to establish the most likely father of William and John.

We are able to establish the legitimacy of the birth of William and John and Jensey’s marriage to a Hallford man by referring to the record of her second marriage to Millington Allen on May 1, 1848 in Fayette County, Illinois. This record is in the book “Illinois Marriages to 1850” by Jordan Dodd; which is a transcription of marriage records held by the individual counties in Illinois. In this record Jinsey is listed as Jinsey Hallford. Her maiden name was Pruitt, so we can safely assume a marriage to our unknown Hallford.

Our circumstantial evidence can be drawn from the following areas:

1.      Time

2.     Place

3.     Naming conventions

Time and Place

John was born in 1838 and his brother William was born in 1839, both in Wayne County, Tennessee. We can assume that the marriage took place sometime in 1836 or 1837, probably in Wayne County. The Hallford families of this period were quite prolific, having children every other year or so, so it is presumed that since no children followed William, it is probable that Williams father probably was no longer in the picture after 1840, and for sure was gone by the time Jinsey remarried in 1848. This results in a time frame of roughly 1836 to 1840 to look for a Hallford of marriageable age that is gone by 1841. The only Hallford (Halford) family in or near Wayne County during this time period was the family of Bradley and Kaziah Halford.

The male children of Bradley and Kaziah of marriageable age in the area were as follows:

John Riley Halford, age 25

Robert Edward Halford, age 23

James Marion Halford, age 21

Joseph W. Halford, age 20

William Mack Halford, age 18

Washington Bradley Halford, age 15

At this time Jinsey was 23. Our first likely candidate for Jinsey’s husband is Bradley’s oldest son, John Riley Halford. When we examine the known marriages of the brothers this becomes more likely since John Riley is the only man for which we have no marriage record. We do have his death date recorded in the Hallford bible of 1850 where his death is listed as October of 1840. This places him in the correct time and place as present in Wayne County in 1836/37 and gone by the end of 1840.

Robert Edward Halford married Martha Ann Childress. James Marion Halford married Rebecca Elvira Crockett and died in 1863. Joseph W. Halford married Elizabeth M. Smalley and died in 1857. William Mack Halford married Francis Murry Wilkes and died in 1888. This leaves only John Riley Halford to fit our criteria of time and place as a likely father of William and John.

Naming Conventions

Another attribute of the Hallford/Halford family of this period that is well known to researchers is the family tendency toward using common family names. For example, our person of interest, John Riley Halford was named after his paternal grandfather John Halford. His middle name “Riley” is the surname of his maternal grandfather.

We can expect on exanimation that both William Wallace Hallford and his older brother, John R. Hallford have been given family names as well. When we look at William’s name we note that Jinsey’s brother was William Wallace Pruitt. William was the second born. It is logical that the first born would most likely be named after his father, John Riley Halford, and this appears to be the case.

As a result of my research I am fairly confident that the father of William W. and John R. is most likely John Riley Halford, son of Bradley and Kesiah Halford. Unfortunately we may never be able to properly document this, but the circumstantial evidence is strong enough to assume it is 99% correct in my opinion.



Richard D. Hallford