Some time ago, I went in search of Jake Hall, a man who was the father of Squire Hall of Skullyville. Jake Hall was enslaved on the Hall plantation in the Choctaw Nation, in 1860. Between 1860 and 1861 it is said that there was a slave insurrection when several of the slave holder's family members had been killed.
As the enslaved men on the Hall plantation attempted to seize their freedom, they were met with resistance by the Hall family and the overseer. Several of the Hall men subsequently died in the altercation. According to one of the stories from the Indian Pioneer Papers, Jake Hall intervened in some way, was able to stop the fighting and prevented further bloodshed. Little else is mentioned about him except that he died during the Civil War.
Excerpt from Interview with Squire Hall, Indian Pionneer Papers
According to the interview, Walker Folsom took over the Hall slaves after the insurrection ended. The slave holder had died, and Walker Folsom is said to have become the owner or guardian of the slaves. I decided to see if I could find Walker Folsom on the slave schedule, and I did find a small group of slaves listed under his ownership.
Walker Folsom is shown owning several slaves, in 1860
But upon close examination of the Skullyville Slave Schedule, I see that Jos. R. Hall is listed as the owner of 20 slaves. And among those slaves is a man in his late thirties who would have been forty by 1863. Jacob Hall enlisted in 1863 in the Union Army and his age was said to have been forty.
1860 Slave Schedule reflecting persons enslaved by Jos. R. Hall, of Skullyville, Choctaw Nation.
This many have possibly been the list of the Hall Plantation slaves prior to the uprising and the only list of Hall slaves.
Finding this list of slaves on the slave schedule is special because this census was conducted in November of 1860. This suggests that the uprising was most likely in 1861. Details about the uprising are few, and I wondered about his role in ending it. The interview suggested that the overseer had started the uprising, though not much more is known.
Was Jake the enslaved man being depicted as somehow being a "loyal slave", or was he simply minimizing blood shed in a violent situation?
Could anything else be learned about Jake Hall?
There was one possibility and I decided to pursue it. It was stated that Jake died before the end of the Civil War.
Could there have been a Jake Hall who might have enlisted in the Union Army, and possibly have served in the US Colored Troops?
Did he yearn for freedom like his comrades in the uprising?
Could any more be learned about this man?
Did he simply wait for freedom to come?
Or was there another aspect to this man?
I had to revisit what I knew--little though it was. The Halls lived in Skullyville in the northern part of the Choctaw Nation and directly south of the nearby Cherokee Nation border to the north. And to the east, they were bordered by the town of Ft. Smith Arkansas.
Considering their location, there were several possibilities. There were a good number of men from Indian Territory who enlisted in the Union Army who had gone into Kansas early in the war. These men enlisted in one of two regiments--the First and Second Kansas Colored Infantries. (By mid 1863, these regiments were re-designated as the 79th and 83rd US Colored Infantry respectively.)
I also know that there was a regiment that was also organized in the city of Ft. Smith, which was the 11th US Colored Infantry. Since Skullyville was closer to Ft. Smith geographically I looked at the names of soldiers who enlisted in the 11th US Colored Infantry first. But there was no soldier in the 11th USCT whose name was Jake Hall or Jacob Hall.
I then searched the 79th and I saw the name of a soldier called Jacob Hall. But was he the same person as Jake Hall from the Choctaw Nation?
The details about Jake Hall's origin were not clear, because in the military papers, it was recorded that Jacob Hall of the 79th was born in Alabama. I did take note however, that in his Indian Pioneer interview, Squire Hall indicated that his father was not born in Indian Territory.
Was he possibly the same man? The profile of Squire Hall said that his father was possibly from Mississippi. But did Squire Hall really know this? Squire was an infant when his father died, so he never knew him, nor had a conversation with him. And this man Jacob Hall indicated that he was born in Alabama. But the county he named does not exist.
From Service Record of Jacob Hall, 79th US Colored Infantry
In the 79th, I noticed additional soldiers with the Hall surname. Could they have been connected? I was quite surprised to notice that two of the other soldiers indicated that they were born in the Choctaw Nation, and in fact in Skullyville, the same community where Squire Hall and his father Jake were said to have lived. I also noted that Cesar and William were young enough to have possibly have been the sons of the elder Jacob Hall.
Though I was not certain that I had the right Jacob Hall, I do believe that t these two soldiers Cesar and William were most likely from the Hall plantation, with their ties to Skullyville, I.T. Though they enlisted on different days, the possibility was there that I had located two additional formerly enslaved men all from the same estate in the Choctaw Nation.
Other records in the Jacob Hall military service file suggest that he enlisted in the 1st Kansas Colored when the regiment was in Ft. Blount, Cherokee Nation. This places the soldier Jacob, in Indian Territory, and close to the same place where Jake the slave had lived--the Choctaw Nation. In fact his enlistment occurred in an area close to the Choctaw Nation. That part of the Cherokee Nation was not far from the northern part of the Choctaw Nation--the same area where the old Hall estate was located.
This muter-in roll document reveals that Jacob Hall was mustered into the Union Army while in Indian Territory. This reveals his presence in Indian Territory before enlistment.
One additional fact about Sqiure Hall's father Jake, was that he died before the war ended leaving his wife, Squire's mother Eliza with three young children still at home, whom she had to raise alone. For this to be the same man I had to learn whether this soldier Jacob survived the war. If he did, it was unlikely that he would be the father of Squire Hall.
I examined the military service records, and found what I was seeking. The soldier Jacob Hall who served in the 79th US Colored Infantry died before the unit was mustered out of service. The cause of death was typhoid, and the soldier died in January 1864.
Excerpt of Discharge document revealing the date of death for Jacob Hall
Jake Hall was said to have died during the war. This soldier Jacob Hall, died during the war, in Ft. Smith Arkansas after contracting typhoid.
The relationship between Jacob Hall and the other two soldiers Cesar and William is not known, but there is the possibility that they were related. It is clear that they most likely knew each other, because they all served in the same company of the same regiment. William enlisted in the same place as Jacob, and Cesar enlisted in nearby Ft. Smith.
Jacob Hall enlisted in the Union Army in Indian Territory. He enlisted in the same geographic area where two other men enlisted. All of the men were in the same company of the same regiments. The two younger men Cesar and William were born in fact in Skullyville and there is a possibility by their surnames that they may have been enslaved on the estate of Jos. R. Hall.
Jake Hall, father of Squire Hall, was said to have died during the Civil War. Jacob Hall the soldiers in the 79th died in November of 1864, during the years of the Civil War. There is a very strong possibility that Jake Hall the slave was Jacob Hall the soldier.
If that is the case, then my other questions were answered. The man said to have assisted in bringing a insurrection to an end, was the same man who also seized the moment when he could become a free man and to fight for the freedom of others. Perhaps during those few short months of his service he experience life and tasted freedom. He was able to transform himself and seize dignity as a freedom fighter, a status which enslavement would have never provided.
Jacob Hall the soldier won his battle, and died, though of disease, he died with dignity and for a cause.
I started out looking for one man who was part of a slave insurrection in the Civil War. I found a man who was a freedom fighter and a man who did not live to see freedom in the Territory, as death by disease shortened his life. And I found two other men, also men of Skullyville, who enlisted when freedom was close within grasp for them as well.
However, the desire for freedom evidenced by the uprising in 1861 clearly made an imprint on all of the Hall slaves, and on Jacob Hall as well.
This man, believed to the the father of Squire Hall, made a name for himself, not as a "loyal slave", but he was one who was his own man, and who also had the fire of freedom in his chest and on his mind.
These men, with their roots planted in Indian Territory, have long been forgotten by so many in the area where they lived, but hopefully these few documents and facts will reveal their fight for dignity and life and the right to live as free men, whether in the Choctaw Nation, or wherever their spirit and desires would take them.