Thursday, April 11, 2013

Remembering Squire Hall, Forgotten Lawman from the Choctaw Nation

Image of unidentified lawman from Indian Territory

Just west of Ft. Smith Arkansas, one finds the small town of Ft. Coffee, Oklahoma, one of the many historically black towns in that state. And a small garden near one of the residents' home is the actual cabin site where a man of distinction and honor once lived in his small cabin. His name was Squire Hall, and his history has been overlooked.

He was a Choctaw Freedmen, who lived near the old Choctaw settlement of Skullyville for most of his life. His amazing history was revealed in an interview from the Oklahoma Pioneer Papers, which are part of the Western History Collection of the University of Oklahoma. He was a son of a man called Jake Hall, who died during the Civil War. It was said that Jake assisted the Hall family when some were wounded during what was part of a slave uprising in 1861. Jake later died during the Civil War.

Source: University of Oklahoma, Western History Collection, 
 Indian Pioneer Papers, Volume 37, Interview with Squire Hall
Source: Same as above

Squire was a young child at the time and after the Civil War he lived with his mother when they were allowed to remain in the same community and live on a small parcel of land in Skullyville community in the Choctaw Nation. 

He spent his young years learning how to handle horses and cattle, and basically worked as a cowboy on the large ranches in the area. He spent much time in the interview describing how they would handle wild horses and he admitted that chasing horses was something that he truly loved, more than attending the local neighborhood schools.

Source: Same as above

His distinction came from the fact that he also served as a deputy sherriff in his part of the Choctaw Nation. The area eventually became what is now LeFlore County, Oklahoma.

Source: Same as above

If not for this interview, nothing else about this man who served for four years as a deputy sheriff would be known. 
How was he received when on duty? 
Was he respected as a lawman? Was he feared?  
Are there records to be found that reflect those years when we was a deputy sheriff?

This is probably one of those mysteries without answers, but he served the frontier during the era of other black lawmen who served the Western District Court of Arkansas. But his service was to the Choctaw Nation. 

Will more be found? 
Will his name be remembered in local county histories? 
Will his name be revered by the townspeople and fellow Freedmen? 

Only if his story is continually told.

Squire Hall eventually took his own land allotment as a Choctaw Freedmen and remained in what is now Ft. Coffee for the rest of his life. Several of his descendants also live in the Ft. Coffee Community today.

Source: Same as Above

The enrollment card of Squire Hall, is found among the Dawes Cards of Choctaw Freedmen. He and his wife are listed on Choctaw Freedmen Card #704.

Source: National Archives Publication M1186, Enrollment Cards 
for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914.

The reverse side of the card confirms the name of his father and mother.

Source: Same as above card

By studying the enrollment cards,one can see that there was a family tie to the Hall family, although his Dawes card only reflects his relationship to Walker Folsom. There are many genealogical clues that encourage further study, especially when combined with data from the Pioneer Papers Interview.

No photos have surfaced of this fascinating man from Choctaw country, but hopefully more data will allow his name to be said and his story to unfold and for him not to be forgotten.

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