Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thriller Thursday - The Aftermath of Leo Hall's Betrayal

As outlined in my last two posts:  "Leo W Hall, Bigamist and Scoundrel" and "The Manhunt and 'Death' of Leo Hall",  this distant relative (through marriage) of my wife, was a source of family scandal.   In July 1921 he was sentenced to 1 year and two months in Auburn prison in New York State. 

While Leo Hall was on the run with his illegitimate wife in Florida and while he was prison, must have been an incredibly hard time for his legitimate wife, Amelia Lanz Hall.  As I have already stated in my previous posts, Leo Hall had cleaned out the family bank accounts before he left which would have left his wife and child with no money and no source of income.

Try to imagine what it must have been like to be Amelia Lanz Hall.  Embarrassed with all her family's dirty laundry aired in the local papers, destitute and relying on assistance from her brothers and sisters and concerned about the health of her young children.  She must have felt like everything was against her.

Things were bad.  

Her oldest son, Joseph, was taken ill which lead to him losing his sight.  He was born in 1914 and would have only been 7 or 8 years old at the time.  She actually had to send him to an institution to provide care for him.   Since medical treatment wasn't very advanced, it is likely he may have died in that institution.  I can find no record of him ever returning to live with his mother or any information about him from the 1930 US Census.  Sadly, his father's betrayal may have contributed to him leaving home, never to return.

Amelia's youngest child was born January 27, 1921.  Just a few days before Leo abandoned the family. I can find no record of the child in newspapers or census information. I hope that she went to live with a family member, but it is likely that in Amelia's time of sorrow and possible depression, her small child died before becoming a toddler.

I only find records of her daughter, Beatrice Hall.  Beatrice was born on May 19, 1918 in Utica, NY.  She was almost 3 years old, when Leo left.  Due to the horrible family financial situation, Beatrice Hall went to live with Amelia's sister and husband, Caroline Lanz O'Neil and Thomas G. O'Neil.  Caroline was 45 years old and childless and must have been excited to care for Beatrice.  Besides occasional visits, it appears that Beatrice never lived with her mother again.  Somewhere in the 1930's, an adoption took place and Beatrice became officially a daughter of the O'Neil's.

Again, try to imagine the loathing that Amelia must have felt for Leo and the situation that he had forced upon her.  The humiliation and loss of family.

Amazingly, when Leo Hall was released from prison, he and his wife reunited.  

I am at a loss to explain how this could be possible.  Either she was a religious woman of infinite forgiveness or just felt that circumstances had left her no other choice.  

It is unclear if she was waiting to pick him up on the day he was released from prison, but they must have gotten back together fairly quickly. By 1930, the US census shows they were living together in Fayetteville, NY (about 50 miles from Utica).  It appears they had likely moved away from Utica so that Leo would be able to find someone who didn't know his story and where he could find work.

Ready for the real shocker?!  They had TWO more children together!  Jerome Joseph Hall born April 9, 1924 and Jess Leo Hall born December 17, 1926.

After a very hard and trouble filled life, Amelia Lanz Hall died at the age of 62 in Utica, NY on March 15, 1949.  

Leo lived until July 11, 1958.

Next Post:  The Other Woman - Kittie Loughrey

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