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HALL, Owen Joseph – emigrated 1872, returned c1878

Owen Joseph Hall (1849-1899) was born at Badsey in 1849, the seventh of eight children of Thomas Hall, a shoemaker, and his wife, Martha (née Miller).  He was baptised in St James’ Church, Badsey, on 9th December 1849.

In 1851, Owen was living with his family at The Leys (a terrace of cottages which was demolished in the 20th century).  His mother died in July 1852 when he was just two years old.

Owen followed his father into the shoemaking profession.  As an 11-year-old, he was described as a cordwainer in the 1861 census, and living with his widowed father and some of his siblings in a house on Bakers Lane (now School Lane).  By 1871, Owen had abandoned shoemaking and was now working as an agricultural labourer; the family had moved yet again.

In 1872, Owen, then aged 22, decided to seek his fortune overseas.  Together with his friend from the village, John Knight, they sailed from Liverpool steerage class, arriving in Baltimore, Maryland, on 30th April 1872, from whence they headed to Auburn, Ohio.  Several other Badsey families also joined them in Auburn.  There is a possibility that his brother, Theodore James, and his wife, Jane, may also have gone for a few years, but they were back in Aldington by 1881.

For whatever reason, Owen decided that the American life was not for him and returned to Badsey (though his friend, John Knight, remained in America for the rest of his life and was joined by his parents and siblings).  He might perhaps have been encouraged by the market gardening boom which was beginning to take place in Badsey.

On 23rd April 1879 at Badsey, Owen married Eliza Keen.  He was now described as a market gardener.  They had seven sons and three daughters in total:  Thomas Henry (1880-1918), John Percy (1882-1957), Theodore James (1884-1924), Joseph Owen (1885-1888), William Charles (1887-1959), Arthur Richard (1889), Ellen Mary (1890), Walter (1893-1945), Elizabeth Frances (1896-1937) and Rosa Annie (1898-1935). 

In 1881, they lived at Aldington.  On 7th July 1888, Owen Joseph, together with his brother, Charles, bought a plot of land called “Sands Garden” of just under an acre; this was adjacent to a plot of land built by their brother, Theodore James.  Very soon, houses were being built along this stretch of land situated on Willersey Road.  Owen had obviously done well enough from his time in America and from market gardening in Badsey to be able to afford to build a house.  By the time of the 1891 census, his family was established in Auban Villa (Auburn House).  This was a substantial detached house (compared with the poor cottages in which he had grown up, which was described at the time of the Valuation Survey in 1912 as “Brick and tile detached house, good repair: 2 front rooms, back kitchen and pantry, 3 bedrooms (1 over back kitchen), water closet and tap; wood and iron shed.”

Owen died in October 1899 at the age of 50 and was buried at Badsey.  His widow, Eliza, remained at Auburn House until her death in 1934.