State Highway Marker

State Highway Marker

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fake News of 1851

We sincerely regret to learn that Dr. R.N. Hall, the representative of Henrico in the last Legislature and the Whig candidate for the same post in the late election has committed suicide in New Kent county, by shooting himself with a pistol. He had gone out gunning, and was after a long search found dead. His friends have for some time suspected  a slight aberration of intellect.

- Richmond Enquirer, 4 November 1851

The painful news of the death of Dr. Hall, the late Delegate in the Legislature, from Henrico county, was fully confirmed yesterday by intelligence direct from the scene of the unfortunate occurrence. The melancholy event occurred on Saturday last, in New Kent county, whither the Dr. had gone a few days ago on a visit to his relatives. The fatal shot was from a six barreled revolver*, the ball entering the front and centre part of the abdomen. He was found some distance from the house of his relatives while still living, and stated that he had received his wound accidentally while practising(sic) with his pistol. Several balls were found lodged in a tree at the fatal spot, and the barrels of the revolver unscrewed and separated from the stock, or handle. Rumor, at first, stated that his death was the result of deliberate suicide.

-Richmond Enquirer,7 November 1851

To the Editors of the Enquirer. 
New Kent C. H., Nov. 6, 1851.
Gentlemen- it was with feelings of regret that read in your paper of the 4th inst such an egregious inaccuracy relative to the death of the lamented Dr. Richard N. Hall of Henrico, in your issue of that date, it was stated that he came to his death by perpetrating suicide, which was attributed to an aberration of intellect. This I beseech you to correct, as there is not a particle of truth attached to it. I do not blame you for the statement given, but I do condemn the informer, of whom you received the news. I will, in a succinct manner, state the facts: -Dr. Hall came to New Kent on the 31st ultimo, to stay a short time with Dr. Geo. W. Morris, a brother-in-law of his, and on the day preceding his death he conversed rationally, with much fluency with some members of the family, and no one suspected the least aberration of mind. On Saturday evening, as a means of recreation, he proceeded from the house of Dr. Morris with a revolver, with a design to practice shooting. After he had gone some live or six hundred yards he halted, and commenced firing, which he continued to do until the cylinder of his pistol became somewhat irregular. As soon as it was discovered, he drew a knife from his pocket to adjust the irregularity, but in endeavoring to do so the pistol was discharged, the ball entering near the centre of the lower part of the abdomen and passing into the region of the spine.He was discovered soon after the occurrence by Dr. Morris, who asked him if lie had shot himself intentionally? He exclaimed, no! no!! no!!! and was afterwards interrogated further, but his exhaustion was so great that nothing more could be learned from him. He was conveyed to the house, where, in a short time, he expired. 

-Richmond Enquirer, 11 November 1851

*six barreled revolver,"which sounds like a notoriously unreliable pepperbox.

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