Murray Hall

Murray H. Hall was born in Scotland in February 1840. Some historians believe she was born Mary Anderson in Goven, Scotland, but I have not yet searched for these records. She immigrated to the United States when six years old in 1846. Various reports say that she began living as a man between 1860 and 1875, most referring to "30 years" before her death in 1901. In about 1885 he married "Celia F. L." (born about 1843) and adopted her young daughter Imelda who had been born to Celia during a previous marriage in September 1879. Both mother and daughter were from Maine. The family lived together at 145 Sixth Avenue (corner of 23rd St.) in Manhattan from 1885 onward where Celia ran an employment agency and Murray worked as a professional bondsman.

In 1891 Murray was charged and imprisoned for using two vacant lots for bail that he did now own. In fact, Celia had owned the lots and gave them to Murray a month prior to him posting the bail, the transaction was printed in the New York Times. It is presumed that the situation was eventually worked out as Murray character was later beyond reproach. Celia died sometime prior to 1900 and Murray died on January 16, 1901 in Manhattan.

It wasn't until Murray's death that it was discovered that he was a woman. From reports, the only people that knew his biological gender where his to previous wives (both deceased in 1901) and his doctor who had been treating him for breast cancer for the past several years. Dr. Gallagher refused to admit that he knew Murray was biologically a woman, and referred to Murray as "she" during the inquest and Imelda also refused to admit it, continually to refer to Murray as "he" and "him" after his death.

There were also several reports (not all listed here as I only transcribe original documents that I have access to) to describe her frequent drinking, gambling, spending time as "one of the boys" and evening getting into a fist fight with a cop. He had several male friends, including a prominent Senator, none of whom had any clue that he was anything other than male.


Newspaper Articles

New York Times (New York, NY) - September 12, 1891

Recorded Real Estate Transfers

ST. GEORGE'S CRESCENT, ws, 305, 4 ft s c of Van Courtlandt Av., 25.1x187.4 ft, 35.1x160 1; Celia F. L. Hall to Murray H. Hall…..

New York Times (New York, NY) - November 16, 1891

Murray H. Hall of 145 Sixth Avenue was arrested yesterday on a charge of perjury on a warrant issued by Recorder Goff. It is alleged that he gave "straw bail." He was commited to the Tombs in default of $2,500 bail. He has no connection with the Prendergast case.

New York Times (New York, NY) - November 17, 1891

M. H. Hall Paroled

Recorder Goff yesterday paroled Murray H. Hall of 145 Sixth Avenue, the alleged "straw" bondman, until Monday, when he will furnish $300 bail for further examination.

Hall was arrested Friday and committed to the Tombs in default of $2,500 bail. He was charged with giving as surety for bail two vacant lots at Van Cortland Avenue and St. George's Crescent, which, it was alleged, he did not own.

He showed to-day that his wife owned the property, and conveyed it to him after he had become surety in the police court.

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) - January 18, 1901

Tammany Brave a Woman, Not a Man

New York, Jan. 18 - It has just been discovered that Murray Hall, a Tammany brave for 30 years, and just dead at the age of 60, is a woman and not a man. He had lived as a man and had had two wives, one of whom left Hall for staying out too late at nights. Hall survived both wives. She drank, smoked and at one time fought two policemen to a finish. She was well known as a professional bondsman, and left an estate of $40,000.

Davenport Daily Leader (Davenport, Iowa) - January 20, 1901

Proves to be a Woman Masquerading as a Man

New York, Jan. 4 -Murray H. Hall, employment agent, with offices in Sixth avenue for thirty years; enrolled Democratic voter and members of Senator Martin's Iroquois Club; "husband" of Mrs. Caroline L. Hall, who died in July, 1898; professional bondsman and frequenter of liquor stores, cigar stores and other resorts of men in the neighborhood of Jefferson Market Court, died from cancer of the left breast in "his" rooms at No. 145 Sixth avenue late Wednesday night.

Thursday it was made known that the body in the coffin was that of a woman.

Hall was 60 years old. For thirty years she had kept up the masquerade in men's clothes along Sixth avenue. How long before that the masquerade began and where and what reason impelled the woman to case aside her sex as far as she could and assume the garments and the manners of men, it was impossible to learn. The discovery was not made until after death and it came with as much of a shock to Miss Minnie Hall, an adopted daughter, who kept house for "Mr." Hall, as it did to the tradesmen, politicians and acquaintances in the neighborhood.

Physician Reveals Secret

Doctor William C. Gallagher reported Hall's death to the Coroner's office in person Thursday. Doctor Gallagher knew that Hall had some property and he believed it to be his duty to inform the officials that the supposed man was in reality a perfectly formed woman.

Twenty-five years ago "Mr." Hall had an employement agency at Twenty third street and Sixth avenue. The sign outside gave the name of "Mrs. Hall," and the woman, who was supposed to be Hall's wife, conducted the business. She was a tall, buxom woman, who ordered Hall around as if he were a child. She died in July 1898.

Hall was short, about 4 feet 7 inches high. No razor ever touched Hall's cheek, which was as smooth as any other woman's. Hall never smoked nor chewed tobacco, but drank frequently. At times, according to those who have known Hall for nearly thirty years, he got drunk, and on such occasions Hall was noisy and troublesome. Hall was known as a particularly profane and violent person. He indulged in language so violent that it was apparently intended to add to "his" masculinity.

No One Suspected Her Sex

Arthur Hughes, who lives on Sixteenth street, west of Sixth avenue, seems to be the only person in the neighborhood who had any suspicion of Hall, and even his suspicion had nothing to do with the questions of sex. The story as Hughes told it was that Hall always insturcted him not to go near a large box in the basement when he was cleaning up for Hall. Of course he took the first opportunity to examine the box closely, and he says that he saw inside the skeleton of a woman. He did not explain how he knew it was a woman's skeleton but in telling the story under certain circumstances. Hughes used to shake his head solemnly and aver his belief that the box contained the body of Hall's first wife.

No evidence could be obtained in the neighborhood Wednesday night that there ever was any other "Mrs. Hall" than the one who died in 1898. She was then about 56 years old, and the physician who attended her in her last illness was as much surprised as anybody else when informed that her reputed husband was not a man.

Hall had all the manners of a man, and this was what made it difficult for his neighbors to realize the truth when "his" sex was revealed.

Joseph Silk, who has a book store at No. 147 Sixth avenue, know Hall for twenty years, and he said that Hall's actions and habits did not suggest effeminacy in the least. Hall spat like a man, drank like a man and swore like a man. Hall's voice was slightly nasal, thought not deep, and "his" walk did not suggest a woman.

The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) - January 27, 1901

In going into practical politics by joining Tammany, Murray Hall, the New Yorker who for thirty years was known as a man, and who turned out to be a woman, demonstrated one way of solving the woman suffrage question.

The Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois) - January 29, 1901

By Coroner's Jury Sitting Over Murray Hall

New York, Jan. 29 - The inquest into the death of Murray H. Hall, the Tammany politician, who, upon her death, Jan. 17, was discovered to have been a woman, after having masqueraded as a man for nearly thirty years, took place before Coroner Zucca last evening.

The first witness called was Imelda Hall, the deceased woman's adopted daughter. Miss Hall related that she had lived with Hall at No. 145 Sixth avenue since 1885. She said that she was not the legally adopted daughter of Hall, as no papers of adoption had been drawn up and signed at the time of her adoption or afterward.

Coroner Zucca ordered the reading of a letter which Hall wrote to the district attorney four years ago, stating that the writer had been drugged and sandbagged by William Reno and asked the girl if she had heard Hall complain of that incident.

"No. I knew for six years that he was suffering from cancer, but never heard him say that the sandbagging had made it worse."

"Hadn't you better say she?" asked the coroner.

"No," replied Miss Hall, with a show of spirit. "He was always a man to me, and I shall never think of him as a woman. I can't."

Dr. William C. Gallagher, the physician who attended Hall in her last illness, was called. He said that he had attended Hall at intervals for a year previous to her death, and that she suffered from a cancer of the breast.

"What you examined her then did you discover her to be a woman?"

"I decline to answer that. I went there professionally, and I will not testify as to my suspicions."

"Do you know whether the deceased was a man or a female - a lady?" asked Coroner Zucca.

"I do, After death I discovered the facts."

Dr. Gallagher was dismissed then, but as he left the stand Coroner Zucca said: "Dr. Gallagher, will you tell the jury whether the deceased was a female or a man?"

"She was a female - a woman," said Dr. Gallagher.

The doctor was recalled to say whether or not Hall's last illness could have been caused by being sandbagged, and he stated that such a thing might have caused it.

The jury's verdict, however, was:

"Resolved, That the deceased came to her death from natural causes, and that she was a lady."

Bedford Gazette (Bedford, Pennsylvania) - February 1, 1901
[part of a longer article unrelated to Murray Hall]

While speaking of Tammany, one of the most noted characters on the East Side turns out to have been a woman. Murray Hall was as well known on the East Side as Richard Croker. During the thirty years that Murray ran with the boys no one suspected Murray's sex. She smoked her pipe, got drunk and went into a fight. Murray was a fine politician, true to her friends, and woe betide her enemies. One of our New York senators declares Murray to have been one of the truest politicians he ever know. There was no grain of treason in her composition and those who knew Murray best never doubted her honesty. But when the doctor made his final examination he discovered that Murray was a woman. There goes one good vote for Tammany, but that is only one of the surprises we expect before election. - BROADBRIM

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) - February 4, 1901

A Puzzling and Unique Case for the Lawyers to Wrangle Over.

With the issue of subpoenas to witnesses called for the inquest into the case of the death of Murray Hall, the Tammany politician who concealed her sex for many years and masqueraded as a man, there is likely to come up a very puzzling will case for the lawyers to wrangle over.

In the first place, the inquest will officially settle the fact that Murray Hall, the political worker, the husband of a woman and the foster father of Imelda Hall, was a woman. The real difficulty will come, however, when an attempt is made to dispose legally of the property she left behind - not very much, but enough to cause a contest, no doubt. The woman who may enter a protest is a sister of Murray Hall's wife, who died and left property to Murray Hall as her "husband." Another complication is due to the fact that some years ago Murray Hall and his wife adopted a young girl as their daughter, and to the latter Mrs. Hall left the bulk of her property, as "next of kin".


The whole case, so far as known, is unique, and lawyers are not anxious to discuss a question in the abstract, or without some previous decisions on which to base their judgments. Several attorneys of many years' practice said this morning that they had never heard of a similar case in all their experience, though they were not sure, without an exhaustive search of records, that it was absolutely unique in legal annals.

Daniel J. Holden, who is in the office of Coudert Brothers and who is regarded as an authority on wills, said that he was inclined to think that in the matter of Murray Hall's wife leaving money to Murray Hall as "my husband," the court would probably take the intention of the testator into consideration, ignoring the fact of any casual misdescription of the beneficiary.

With regard to the adoption of the child there was another point at issue. In such cases legal papers are made out, and it might have been possible another lawyer said, that Murray Hall in that case described herself as a man and thus deceived the court. This might invalidate the adoption and consequently that clause of the will of Mrs. Murray Hall leaving money to her adopted daughter; but it would not affect that part of the will referring to her husband. - From the New York Evening Post.

Arizona Republican (Phoenix, Arizona) - March 25, 1901

"His" Will Filed For Probate in the New York Court

New York, March 24 - The will of the woman Murray H. Hall, who was known as a man for forty years was filed for probate yesterday. It speaks of his 'deceased wife'. It was executed on April 8, 1900 in the presence of Louisa Perkins and Esther O'Donnell, both of whom resided at 145 Sixth avenue. The value of the estate, which is small is not given. All goes to the testatrix's adopted daughter. The will runs:

I, Murray H. Hall of New York city, being of sound and disposing mind and memory and considering the uncertainty of life do make publish and declare this to be my last will and testament as follows, hereby revoking all other and former wills by me at any time made.

First - After my lawful debts are paid, I give devise and bequeath all my property, both real and personal, and wherever situated to Imelda A. Hall, and especially request that at my death the said Imelda A. Hall shall cuase to be erected a suitable headstone over the grave of my deceased wife Celia F. L. Hall. I hereby appoint Imelda A. Hall to be executrix of this my last will and testament.

Census Records

145 Sixth Ave., Manhattan, New York, NY - June 11, 1900

Surname Given Sex Born Status Place Born Father Born Mother Born Immigrated Occupation
Hall Murray H. M Feb 1840 Widow Scotland Scotland Scotland 1846 Employment Agt.
Hall Minnie F Sept 1879 Single Maine Scotland Maine . .
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