Unsung hero who saved court records identified, honored 156 years later

Mercer County

For Peggy Johnson, a memorable conversation with a neighbor sparked a curiosity.

In 1862 during the Civil War, confederate soldiers invaded Princeton by burning down homes and the courthouse.  An unnamed slave ran into the blazing courthouse and saved several court documents with important information of the city. Johnson was upset that he had no recognition or name attached to his act of heroism.

“That was sad,” Johnson said.  “He was just… lost that nobody knew who did the deed.”

It motivated her to research articles and memoirs. She also took trips to local cemeteries, the historical society, and the circuit court’s office.  It ultimately lead to the confirmation of the hero’s identity: George Hall.

“That was something really important that he had done,” Johnson said.  “It’s good to know.”

It was a deed so important, but he was not thanked publicly until now.  Once Johnson submitted it to Mercer County Commission, they decided to pass a resolution to honor Hall’s heroism, 156 years later.

“It’s a significant thing in Mercer County history,” said commissioner Bill Archer.  “Those kinds of historic stories out here… can fill out the story that hasn’t been told.”

It is a hero’s thank-you to the past that has shaped the present.

“I thought it was somebody that needed to be recognized, to be honored, or just to have a name.” Johnson said.  “It’s unfortunate to go through life without a name and not have anybody know who you are.”

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