"Former Slaves, the Success Story of a Clark County Missouri Farm Family"

 

By Lewis D. Savage

 

 

 

False Myths Used to Perpetuate the Slave System

 

            In Kenneth M. Stampp's book, "The Peculiar Institution" he points out some very interesting, but false myths set forth and frequently repeated by the slave owners and their allies to bolster the slave system in the face of a growing critical attitude on the part of many other people.

 

            The first myth put forth was that the creator had designed the Negroes for labor in the South in raising tobacco, sugar cane, and cotton.  In contrast to others, Negroes possessed certain traits which uniquely fitted them for bondage.  That by intellect and temperament the Negro was a natural slave of the white.

 

            Another myth or reason why Negroes were kept in bondage was they were barbarians who needed to be subject to rigid control for their own good.  These false myths must not be taken for facts.

 

The Slave Background of Julia Fulcher Hall

 

            But the main purpose of this article is to share with you an unusual success story of a former Clark County, Missouri slave family named Hall.  This story beings with the migration of Ruel Daggs, a slave owner, who moved with his family and 6 slaves from Virginia to Clark County, Missouri in 1836.  He located on a farm 8 miles west of Kahoka and just south of Luray on the Wyaconda River.

 

            By 1848, his 6 slaves had increased to 16.  Nine of these slaves ran away from the Daggs farm, and in a few days made their way to Salem, Iowa where they were welcomed by some Quakers.  Slave catchers, Samuel Slaughter and James McClure caught up with the runaways at Salem, and after a confrontation with the Quakers, five of the runaways disappeared and went on to Canada, but four women and children were taken back to Missouri.  Among these four were Julia Fulcher, 18 years, and her mother, Dorcas.

 

The Halls Prove Good Farm Renters and Buy a Farm

 

            This success story is about Julia and her family.  Julia didn't get her freedom until after the end of the Civil War.  She married Hezekiah Hall, who although they could not read or write, with the incentive of freedom they became sharecroppers at first and proved to be hard workers and good farmers.  Judge Givens sought them out to rent his farm of about 100 acres near Waterloo.  The Halls did so well that they were able to purchase the farm from Judge Givens in a few years.

 

News Interview Reveals Sam Hall's Long Successful Life

 

In sharing this success story, I want to include a newspaper interview of Samuel Hall, the son of Hezekiah and Julia Hall, from "The Daily Gate City" of Keokuk, dated 8/4/1956.  Here we have Sam's own words about his life sucess story…

 

The Daily Gate City, Keokuk, Iowa, Saturday, Aug. 4, 1956, page 2.  "Sam Hall Nearly 90, Knows the Art of Living," by Angie Hume.

 

KAHOKA, Mo  -Samuel Hezekia Hall, one of Clark county's most venerable Negro residents, will observe his 90th birthday on August 4th.  Clark countians who know him respect him as one of its most honorable citizens.

 

The son of Hezekiah and Julia Anne Hall, Hezekia was born on the Scott Miller farm near Luray on August 4, 1866.  The family lived there until 1875, then moved to the Attorney Givens farm near Waterloo, which they purchased.  That has been the family home since.

 

Within a few years of the time this family was released from slavery, their industry had paid for the farm with honest, sweat and toil, minding their own business and managing their meager funds to the best of ability.  That is good practice for any man, regardless of color.

 

On October 29, 1902, Sam as he is familiarly known in Clark County married Lulu Mae Cole.  The Rev. J.C. Carter officiated in Kahoka.  One son, Ira, was born to this union.

 

Landmark Replaced

 

The original home, roughly built, was eventually replaced by a five room comfortable cottage in 1946.  There are those in Clark county who regretted the passing of this old landmark.  But the family was certainly entitled to more comfort and convenience.

 

Of a large family, Sam and a sister, Mrs. Vicey Hicks of Lexington, Mo., are the only survivors.  Some of the deceased rest in the historic cemetery at Waterloo where their graves are always remembered on Memorial Day.

 

During his long and successful life, Mr. Hall has observed many changes in Clark county.  The wheels of time and progress have been his to watch and he relates many interesting experiences.  He probably appreciates more deeply the fine gravel road that passes his house today because he remembers becoming mired in the mud of its predecessor.  Electrical appliances amaze him but furnish comforts he had never dreamed possible.

 

During his earlier days, Sam worked for Thomas Whalean, Grandfather of the present day Tom Whalan on a farm now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Haage.  It was known years ago as the Mahler farm.  The pay was .75 a day, dinner included.  Today men make more in a half hour than he made in a day.  He has worked hard all his life, but hard work has made him sturdy and healthy.  At 75 he still did a hard day's work on the farm chopping wood, mending fences, farming with horse-drawn machinery.

 

Today (90th year) Sam possesses a remarkably keen mind recalling interesting stories of other years.  He is now plagued by rheumatism.  He must forego his favorite recreation squirrel hunting.  His gun rests in a corner, his dogs lie in the shade and snooze.

 

Peaceful Acres 

 

A peaceful atmosphere is all that Sam asks and he has been able to enjoy it.  He loves the rolling acres that slope to quiet dells along Fox river.  They face the beautiful bluffs upon which the once thriving town of Waterloo rested.

 

Sam is blessed with the comforting presence of a devoted wife and son.  The latter has won the respect of those who know the family through his care of his father.  If more men were as Ira, his father and mother, there would be no penitentiaries, jails nor troubles.  Attorneys would need only to confine their activities to estates and squabbles, not criminal sharpies.

 

When visited by the writer, Sam and Lulu were in the garden, busy with butterbeans.  Ira had gone to town with the milk.  Twenty-five darling baby guineas were nesting in the kitchen in a box.  There were other farm poultry and animals about.  After a pleasant chat, one left the aged pair with the feeling this is the way to grow old -gracefully and generously.

 

Sam and Lulu face the sunset of life with a fortitude and confidence backed by nearly a century of experience and hardships, but faith in each other and a higher being.  They are worthy of emulation, they are deserving of a card of greeting on August 4th, honoring a quiet old couple who have learned well the art of living."

 

 

 

The last part of this success story is about Ira Hall, son of Samuel and Lulu Hall. 

 

Ira Hall's News Write-up Reveals Higher and Wider Success in Life

 

It is also taken directly from a newspaper account from "The Media" Kahoka, Mo. 8/16/1989.  Under Ira's industry and care the family farm grew to over 500 acres and as the record shares Ira's success reached out to sharing in his xounty, in his church, and other areas.

 

The Media, Kahoka, Mo., August 16, 1989, page 4.  "Ira Hall, Clark County's Only Lifelong Black Resident Dies"

 

            "Ira Vernon Hall, 81, of rural Kahoka, died at his home on August 7, 1989.

            Funeral services were held on Wednesday, August 9, 1989 at the Saffer & Sons Memorial Chapel in Kahoka, with the Reverend Ernest Deatrick officiating.

            Pallbearers were: Joe Young, Steve Gregory, Delbert Haprper, Alonzo Malone, Girden Davis and Rupert Conn.

            Memorials may be made to the Kahoka Cemetery.

 

Mr. Hall was the son of Samuel Hezekia and Lulu Mae Cole Hall.

 

He was a farmer and had lived all of his life in Clark County.  He never married.  He served as a committeeman for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service for several years and worked as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.  He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Kahoka.  He was preceded in death by his parents.

 

Mr. Hall was chosen by the Chamber of Commerce to serve as the grand marshal of the 100th Old Settlers parade which was held in September, 1983.

 

Editor's Note:

The following letter was submitted to the Chamber of Commerce by Jane Golliher, nominating Ira Hall as grand marshal for Old Settlers parade.  We felt this information best described Mr. Hall.

 

Dear Chamber of Commerce,

            I think Ira Hall should be awarded the honor of being the grand marshal in the 100th Old Settlers parade.

            Ira Hall, age 75, is the only lifetime black resident of Clark County.  He lives alone on a farm part of which was purchased with a $15 loan in 1875 by his paternal grandfather, a former slave.

            Ira is content on his farm in Clark County which is situated in the gently rolling hills of Fox River Valley.  It's a good Christian neighborhood.

            Ira Hall once owned 500 acres, but he sold some to a neighbor when he "semi-retired".  Now he has 105 acres.  At one time he specialized in raising cattle and growing corn, soybeans, and rye.  He still has some cattle, but his farming now is mainly a hobby.  He sells most of his chicken and duck eggs.  He raises sweet corn and other vegetables for himself in a patch behind one of the chicken coops.  He also raises feed corn for his animals.

            Farming comes natural to him.  His parents, like his grandparents, were farmers.  He was born on the farm where he still lives.  Ira is the only child of Samuel Hezekia and Lulu Mae Cole Hall.  He never married.  He lived on the farm with his parents and his aunt until 1961.  That year the tree of them died.  But Ira says he hasn't been lonely since he has his neighbors, friends, and church.  Ira says, "I don't feel a bit lonely.  When you're at the Lord's side you don't feel a bit lonely".   He has also served as a Red Cross volunteer for 20 years and currently serves on the townships Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation committee.

            Since a bout 1973, Ira has been a member of the First Baptist Church of Kahoka, serving on the church board.  Before that he attended the African Methodist Church in Kahoka, but church membership shrunk until the church was closed.

            Ira's paternal grandfather was a slave whose owners brought him from Kentucky to a farm near Luray in Clark County.  Ira's grandmother came from Virginia.  She was also a slave.  Her owners also moved to Clark County where Ira's paternal grandparents met.  They were freed after the Civil War and were sharecroppers until they purchased the farm where Ira lives now.

            Ira attended high school in Keokuk, because Missouri Law would not permit him to attend school with whites in Kahoka.  He left high school to return to work on the family farm because his parents were in poor health.  He has been a farmer ever since, expect for a brief stint as a road construction laborer, helping build U.S. Route 61 and Missouri Route 81.

            Though Ira Hall remembers all the bad times for blacks, he's still optimistic about his life.  "The good Lord's been awful good to me," he said.

            He enjoys watching horse races at the county fair, an event he hasn't missed since 1936.  Ira also enjoys studying the past reading history books.  He is particularly interested in the history of Clark County.

            But there is much Ira Hall, one of the few blacks in Clark County, understands.  He understands that much has changed in the world, including how blacks are treated.  And he understands that, all in all, his life wasn't an unpleasant experience.  "I've got a good guardian angel."

 

 

 

So, the Hall family is only one of many examples of former slaves who succeeded well on their own, when given the opportunity of freedom.  -Lewis D. Savage

 

 

Source of References:

 

"The Peculiar Institution" -Stampp, Kenneth M.

 

History of the Daggs Family - census records and estate records of Ruel Daggs

 

Clark County Missouri Historical Library and Museum, Kahoka, Mo.

 

Fugitive Slave Case -Ruel Daggs vs. Elihu Frazier et al George Frazee Reporter

 

"The Daily Gate City"  -Keokuk, Ia.  8/4/1956

Interview with Samuel Hall

 

"The Media"  -Kahoka, Mo. 8/16/1989

Memorial Write-up of Ira Hall

(Lewis D. Savage has been a life-long historian of Salem, Iowa, a Quaker minister, and served as chairman of the Board and curator of the Lewelling Quaker House Museum in Salem for 20 years.)

 

 

 

False Myths A-laid:

 

False myths of the slave system put aside by reality; these people free evidently did not need anyone to oversee their own success in life in the American story