RICHARD L. HALL. Life is a great school, constantly educating men, testing their powers and capabilities, proving their adequacy or inadequacy, and those who truly live never lose interest or cease to learn and profit. One of the Kansans most thoroughly educated in this school and with experience that finds him now in a position to be of greatest value to his fellow men is Richard L. Hall, head of the Hall Mercantile Company at Minneola and one of the first pioneers of Clark County.
Life began for him in Christian County, Kentucky, January 23, 1865. His parents were Elihu and Sarah J. (Hood) Hall. His maternal grandfather was an officer of the Mexican war, and was given a grant of land for his services. Elihu Hall was born in Virginia and his wife in North Carolina. He went into the army on the side of the Union, but ill health interfered to a large extent with his active service. Otherwise he lived uneventfully and never moved a mile from his birthplace until he followed his son to Kansas. He and his wife reside in Clark County of this state. Their children were: John, of Arizona; Benjamin, always known as "B" of Los Angeles, California; Robert, who died in Kansas; William, a farmer in Ford County, Kansas; Joseph, of Cimarron, Kansas; Laura, wife of Millard Gilland, of Arizona; and Richard L., of Minneola, Kansas.
Richard L. Hall had very little formal book learning. He was a pupil in subscription schools for a few months at a time and at night studied his books by the light from the fireplace. Experience has been his great teacher. He lived in a region and among people of very modest circumstances. He remembers the first cook stove his mother had and also the first kerosene lamp that was brought into the home.
He ran away from the old home in Christian County when sixteen years old. He left there with about $20 in money and came to Kansas through DeWitt County, Illinois. His first location in this state was at Belle Plaine in Sumner County. Mr. Hall states that a half day's walk would have taken him beyond the limits of agricultural farming in that section. For some months he worked as a farm hand for Charles Sprague. He then joined his brother at Belle Plaine, reaching there without a cent. On coming to Kansas he engaged railroad fare at Evansville, Indiana. The price of two tickets to Belle Plaine was 75 cents more money than he possessed, and when he explained his situation to the ticket agent the latter replied: "Hand 'er over, brother, that'll do." He and his wife then fasted the rest of their journey, having not a cent in their pockets to buy food. On reaching Belle Plaine he borrowed a quarter from his brother to pay the drayage on his baggage. His first work was in a brick yard at Belle Plaine at $1.25 a day. Then he did hod carrying for plasterers, shucked corn at $1 a day, and though he worked from early light to dark did not have more than twenty bushels to his credit. He also helped in harvest fields, with threshing outfits, dug cellars, and the strange part of it is that he laid up money at such low wages.
When almost eighteen years old Mr. Hall went back to Kentucky and married. He began housekeeping with his parents but after a few months he and his wife came to Kansas. Mr. Hall stole his wife, taking her away in the night in order to prevent his father-in-law from shooting him. They married at Clarksville, Tennessee. During one summer Mr. Hall was a feeder for a threshing machine outfit in Reno County at $1.50 a day. He was very expert in that, and fed through as many as 1,800 bushels of wheat a day. The first year he was in Kansas he moved eighteen times, and from Reno County came to Clark County, where he arrived in 1884. At that time there were no towns closer than Dodge City and the entire region was a tract of Government land. He might have had any of it for the filing, but declined to take up a homestead. His career here began as a freighter. His first load of freight was hauled from Dodge City to Camp Supply. Some rural towns sprang up as a result of the settlement of Clark County. He hauled to Ashland, Englewood, Appleton, Fowler and Meade and also to ranches scattered over this section of Kansas and old Indian Territory. He continued freighting for three years, until the arrival of the Rock Island Railway, when he gave up that pursuit. While hauling goods he freighted beer and whiskey into Englewood by the car load. This stuff was dispensed among the cowboys who made that place their rendezvous.
As mentioned, Mr. Hall decided not to take a claim, since residence upon it would have interefered with his freighting occupation. This was an instance of his good judgment, for later he bought a quarter section for $10, another for $55, and the quarter section his father proved up was presented to him as a gift. For still another quarter section he made a trade, so that the land cost him only $1.50. After giving up trading he began farming four miles south of Minneola. While on the farm he barely made a living, though he did about as well as other farmers in the same community.
Failing to make a paying proposition of the farm, Mr. Hall went over the country selling Doctor Chase's recipe books, furnishing the recipes for this, that and the other. This he did in the intervals of his farm management. At the same time he was huckster all over this region. While a huckster he gathered his butter and eggs over a wide scope of country, and frequently laid down and slept where night overtook him. He lived here among the numerous cow thieves and outlaws, defended himself and his property and contributed his share toward ridding the country of such characters.
For thirteen years he kept his residence on his farm and managed to bring up his four children, mothering and fathering them. His wife had abandoned his home and board and he kept house and looked after the comfort and welfare of the children from infancy until they became able to take care of themselves and assist their father. He did all this in addition to the outside responsibilities, which would have been more than sufficient for most men. For ten years Mr. Hall never burned a ton of coal, using cow chips for fuel. At times he pastured cattle at 10 and 12 1/2 cents a month, and while on the farm he superintended thousands of head of stock. One of the instances that show his character may properly be recorded. When his unfaithful wife ended her life he sent for her body and buried her in the old home region which she had abandoned because she was the mother of his children.
On leaving the farm Mr. Hall located at Minneola. From that point as headquarters he engaged in well drilling. He has brought water to the surface at points all the way from Bucklin to Meade and north to Dodge City. He owned and operated three rigs at the same time and one machine he kept working night and day for three years. He made this a rather profitable business, and for five years he personally superintended the drilling of all the wells along the line of the Rock Island Railroad Company. While in that occupation he traveled on an annual pass. He finally gave up well drilling and turned that branch of his business over to his sons, who are still conducting it.
Mr. Hall first became a merchant at Minneola in the handling of machinery and lumber by car lots. His first stock of shelf hardware cost him $365. He put up a building 40 by 40 feet at a cost of about $600. This business has been continued and has grown into the Hall Mercantile Company, though some years ago he gave up the lumber department. The Hall Mercantile Company now carries an immense stock of general merchandise, housed in a double building 50 by 140 feet, and for 100 feet of the length it is double storied. Mr. Hall has also resumed farming in recent years. Besides his business at Minneola he conducts a hardware store at Sublette, with a stock of $10,000, and another store at Welsford with a stock valued at $5,000. Mr. Hall is a stockholder in the People's State Bank at Minneola. His home is now at Hutchinson, where in Hyde Park he owns a beautiful residence costing $6,000. During his second period of farming Mr. Hall has done much as a wheat grower. Annually he has planted several hundred acres, and in the year 1902 had a yield of forty bushels per acre.
On first settling in Kansas Mr. Hall helped organize a rural school district and was its clerk for many years, In that old country district his own children were for a few years the only scholars in attendance. Mr. Hall in politics has been a voter merely, casting his ballot as a republican. His wife and children are members of the Christian Church. He is a man of great generosity and has been exceedingly liberal in supporting the auxiliary movements of the great war, especially the Red Cross.
Mr. Hall's first wife was Susie D. Tinsley, who was born at Bowling Green, Kentucky, daughter of Thomas Tinsley. The children of this union are Clayton, of Minneola; Dudley, a traveling salesman for the Grovier Produce Company of Larned, and by his marriage to Hazel Tawzer has a son, Dudley O.; Eugene in the electrical business and well drilling work at Minneola, married Mignon Riley, and their children are Irene, Lewis, Willard and Cathleen; Bessie, the youngest, is the wife of Roy Beard, of Dodge City, and is the mother of three children, Leslie, Mildred and Elain.
At Minneola January 1, 1907, Mr. Hall married for his present wife Miss Elsie M. Burt. She was born at Rockford, Illinois, and came to Kansas as a child, living at Dighton. Like her husband, Mrs. Hall saw the hard side of life when young. She did farm labor and worked at other employment requiring great physical effort. Lack of opportunity prevented her from gaining an education, but it is apparent from what is said in the preceding paragraphs that both Mr. and Mrs. Hall have been none the less useful as working members of society and as contributors to the welfare of their community because of their own early lack of opportunity. Mr. and Mrs. Hall have three children: Margaret Pauline, Lucile and Myron Leslie.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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