One Promissory Note


“Observations by the Way”

by J. K. Luton, for the Bonham News

    1910 May 20: This is an ideal morning, and I am in the little city of Mulberry. This is a good trading point. Crops are fine but needing rain. I am now in what is called Red River bottom, on the J. F. Hall farm. Crops are fine and not suffering for rain like they are in most places. This is beautiful farming country and I can look around me and see many hundred acres of growing corn. Mr. Hall has 250 acres of corn and 250 acres of oats... Am now on the Lightfoot land right on the river’s edge. People in this part of the country have about abandoned cotton....

    1911 February 15: Mrs. Sallie McCrummen deeded 350 acres to J. F. Hall, “the tract of land deeded by H. W. Lightfoot to J. S. McCrummen...up the river with its meanders....”

    1911 October 6: (Bonham News) Thirty years ago, when cotton began to decline in price, on the market, every cotton owner or holder would withdraw his cotton from the market nearly all over the cotton region, but how is it today? Just the reverse.... But there is a proposition all over the cotton zone to get cotton raisers to hold for 14 cents per pound. Will they do it?

    October 17: Mulberry... Picking cotton is the order of the day....

    1912 January 2: Farming Conditions Around Mulberry. J. F. Hall Tells Interesting Story Concerning the Large Cotton Crop. He stated that there has been considerable trading in farm land around Mulberry the past few days....

    Mr. Hall says that some of his tenants have never gotten through picking over their cotton the first time and are abandoning it. He said he offered them twenty-five cents a hundred on his half in addition to their own half if they would go on and finish picking. He says there is a good deal of cotton that has not been picked over the first time and it looks like a snowbank.

   1913: H. S. Shortridge and wife Annie Reid sold three tracts to J. F. Hall: it was 221 acres + 93.9 acres + 82.5 acres, excepting “the old house and grave yard...the gin lot.”  Then on May 14, 1913, John and Bettie Hall deed one hundred acres to their son Allie. He had married Maude Carroll in 1909. Elsie, first grandchild, was born in 1912. She remembers playing on the floor joists of the two big houses being built, one for her grandfather and one for her father. Allie (pictured below) was now playing a major role in his father’s affairs.
     1918 September 27: (BN) A message was received in this City yesterday morning ... stating that the government will not fix the price of cotton and said to urge the farmers to hold their cotton for 35 cents.”    

    1920 November 25: (Bonham Daily Favorite) J. F. Hall of Mulberry brought eighteen bales of cotton to Bonham and stored it in the warehouse. Mr. Hall said he had plenty of hogs and corn....

    December 2: (BDF) Bale of Cotton Worth Less Than in Former Years. An actual loss in the value of raw cotton to the producers from the high prices of the early part of this year, due to the general depression and readjustment ranges between $133.75 and $172.25 a bale....

    1920 December 6:  J. F. and Bettie Hall “set apart as our homestead...200 acres of land upon which [our] residence and principal barns are situated.”

    1921 February 25: Hall vs. Hickman... On May 10 a judge ordered the cotton sold: 14 bales to Ben Halsell for $748.43; 1 to Allie Hall for $49.74. Nine bales averaged 532 pounds...ten cents per pound.

   According to Jewel Gay:  J. F. Hall was “ambitious, not afraid of going into debt. He had bought the Plummer place and expanded too much. He held cotton instead of selling and, as the price fell, bought more and held. It broke him. He had to homestead.” Hear Jewel tell.

   1923 April 26: Allie and Maude Hall gave his father a deed for 51.5 acres for “the assumption by said J. F. Hall of against the land now held by the...Land Bank of Dallas [and] the cancellation by said J. F. Hall of all the debts of ever kind, including one for $3500 and another for $2000, executed by R. A. Hall to J. F. Hall.”

    1923 September 27:  J. F. Hall and wife deed 51.5 acres back to R. A. Hall, “the same land conveyed to J. F. Hall by R. A. Hall and wife by deed dated April 26th, 1923.” Consideration: “$2,000 cash paid, and the said R. A. Hall’s 6 promissory notes....”

    1929 July 29: Clayton Hall and Gladys Gregory were married in Denton and arrived in Mulberry after a trip to South Texas to look at “the Catarina land”.

    1930 August 2: Allie (remarried) and Edna Hall deed back 51.5 acres, the Roche place, to J. F. Hall and wife for $4,620 in “cash paid.” The same day J. F. and Bettie Hall deed 431.5 acres to their sons Clayton and Clarence. For “Love and affection...the further consideration that the said J. C. Hall and C. D. Hall assume the balance due on one certain note executed by J. F. Hall and wife to...Land Bank for the principal sum of $20,000....” 

    1932 January 25:  In “agreement,” J. F. Hall, Clayton and Clarence Hall and the First Trust Joint Stock Land Bank of Chicago:  “...the principal amount due and the terms of payment...were changed so that the balance of the principal...was made $18, draw interest at the rate of 6% per annum.” But $630 due in November was never paid.

    1935 August 25: (BDF) The funeral services of Mrs. J. F. [Bettie] Hall were held at the famil
y home at Mulberry Saturday afternoon, 26 at 2:30 p.m. ...Mrs. Hall professed faith in Christ and joined the Methodist Church at Elberthel in Lamar County.... From that day until her death she lived a pure Christian life. To know her and to be with her was to make one have a greater desire to be of the same sweet disposition that possessed her life. The type of character she was is best expressed by saying that friends from all parts of the state came to pay their last bit of tribute and respect to the one that they had learned to love and honor. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. Guy E. Perdue, pastor of the Methodist Church of Lysben. Mrs. Bud Morgan of Paris sang “He Promised Never to Leave Me Alone.” The honorary pallbearers were: H. G. Rodgers, Sid Smith, Raleigh Abernathy, Luther Ware, I. W. Evans, and Tom Williams. Those who served as pallbearers were: Ernest McClure, Jimmie Lee Gibbons, John Burket, Pearce Donaldson, Henry Dorough, and Everett Parker.

    photo: Gladys called it “Last Visit”:  J. F. and Bettie, Clarence, Clayton and Willie

   1936 January 7: (BDF) Mr. John Forest Hall, one of the most prominent farmers of Fannin county, passed away [this morning] at his home at Mulberry near Red River, following an illness of over two years. His condition had been exceedingly critical for several weeks. His wife died some months ago. Mr. Hall was 71 years of age and was born in Tennessee. He came to Texas in 1892.... A large number of relatives and friends attended the funeral services.... Rev. Guy E. Purdue...officiated.  Following the services at the country home, the remains were brought to Bonham and interred at Willow Wild cemetery.

    That same day, because payments on the $18,000 note were in default from November 1932 thru November ‘35, the First Trust Joint Stock Bank of Chicago “exercised its option to declare the whole amount...due and payable.” The bank’s trustee, C. C. Wilson, took legal title with a deed still using the names of J. F. Hall and wife Bettie, and R. A. Hall and wife Maude.

    Lelia was the administrator of her father’s will, dated April 29, 1932. The probate application signed by J. E. Spies, County Judge, January 27, 1936 stated: “The estate...consists entirely of property which is exempt by law, being a homestead of 200 acres of real estate, and the balance being a small amount of personal property ...all of said property passed free of debts and was bequeathed free of debts.”

“Day of Funeral”

Hall brothers: Clarence, Allie, Clayton, Willie

When the public library board in Bonham w
as raising money for a new building in 1975, a

project was Fannin County Folks & Facts, a compilation of family histories and other notes. My mother Gladys wrote for the Hall Family, but when the book appeared, it contained nothing at all about them. Her diary at the time explains:

    September 2: Lelia called and asked me if it was necessary to put in the story that Mr. Hall had lost his land.  Also, Vera was disappointed that no mention was made of her marriage....

    September 3: The day passed along in the usual way.... Just felt badly. Clarence came. I asked him to come in and hear the Hall story. He sat on the patio where it was cool and so did we.

    Clarence objected to the paragraph about Mr. Hall losing the land. When I had finished reading, he and Clayton confirmed it. They said that Mr. Hall deeded the land to Clarence and Clayton in hopes that they could pay for it, but they couldn’t so it was they who lost the land on the day that John Forrest Hall died. Then Clarence went on to say a lot that he had been harboring in his heart for a long time.

    He reminded me that on the day John Hall died, I had taken Clayton in the bathroom and told him he couldn’t go to the funeral home with the others to pick out his father’s casket. This was from fear that he would have to sign a note. Clarence yelled out, as if he thought I would deny it, “I heard you. I heard you!”  I sat dumfounded, not that he was getting me told, but at the way this hate and resentment exploded like a bomb all bottled up for 40 years. And all the time I had thought we were fairly in line for a decent, honest relationship.

    Clarence continued, “If all the Halls had felt like you did, my father would have been buried like a pauper. After all he did for Clayton. Two thousand dollars for his schooling.” Clayton seemed calm. He said, “It wasn’t that much, Clarence. I had $700 of my own money.” Then I said, “What about the $2,000 my Dad paid for me to go to school? I never paid my family a penny in return, and I guess that is the strongest sorrow in my life, and my deepest resentment. I wasn’t expected to pay for anything in my family, and I had no intention of paying for a Hall funeral.” I tried very hard not to say anything that I would have to apologize for to this stupid, ignorant man! About all I said in addition to the above, was, “Well, at this point in my life, after all is said and done, the facts all out and the fortune made, then I can see that perhaps I should have paid the $200. But then, at the time, I was pregnant, had no job, little money, Clayton was ill—and I was scared to death and felt that it was not our responsibility.” Then I said twice, but I don’t think he heard, “I’m so glad I found out how you feel. I wouldn’t take anything for knowing.”

    Then Clarence ended the conversation by reminding Clayton how well we all get along. I asked him how he thought Hazel would have reacted to the funeral scene at John Hall’s death. He ignored me. Now you can see why I like going to church in Bonham.

    Yes, she was pregnant with me. “I am Gregory.”