Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bad Lewis Hall husband of Rhoda Bentley

Our Daniel Bentley, the son of Thomas and Hannah Bentley, married Nancy Jane Lewis.  Their son Thomas was a brother to our grandfather Benjamin Bentley who married Elizabeth "Betsy" Crase.  Thomas married Betsy's sister, Margaret Mary Crace.  Their daughter, Rhoda S. Bentley married John Lewis Hall.   He was known as Bad Lewis Hall.
Rhoda was born in 1832 in Perry County, Kentucky.  John was born in 1835.  She married Lewis on December 3, 1853 in Letcher County, Kentucky.  He was 18 and she was 21.
Lewis Hall was not part of our Hall family.  Nor was he part of the Anthony Hall line. As far as I have been able to find his grandfather was actually Jonathan Hill and Rhoda Coombs who were from Rhode Island and moved to  New Hampshire.  Their son Johathan Hall was born in New Hampshire and moved to Kentucky.  He married Nancy Higgens.  Lewis is only related to us through his married to Rhoda.
In 1880 Rhoda is on her own in the census.  She lists herself as a widow in Letcher County.
  • Hall, Roda, 45, widowed, keeping house
  • Thomas, 21, son, works on farm
  • Harlon, 17, son, working farm
  • Wilborn, 15, son, working farm
  • Frankey, 10, daughter
  • All born in Kentucky
I found several newspaper articled about Lewis.
The Centralia Enterprise, a newspaper in Centralia, Wisconsin, ran the following story on May 16, 1891
Perryville, W.Va., May 11 -----Lewis Hall and his son, Lewis Hall, Jr., got into a quarrel near Knox Creek, with Samuel Steel and his son Hiram.

Samuel Steel was mortally wounded, dying shortly afterward, and Lewis Hall received four slight wounds, but escaped to the mountains.

Lewis married Mary "Polly" Mullins about 1900.
In the fight which ensued, Lewis Hall, Jr., was shot through the heart and instantly killed; Hiram Steel was pierced with seven bullets, and died in a few minutes.

On February 15, 1903 the Atlantic Constitution ran the following article:
Contrary to mountaineer custom, very few greetings were exchanged along the road, and my somewhat foreign appearance seemed to arouse suspicion. One old fellow, however, with a very long red nose, and wearing an ancient shotgun over his shoulder, instead of the customary sidearms, walked with me for several miles. He was, as I discovered afterwards, one of the "bad ones," but thoroughly harmless in his badness and most enjoyable as a companion.

"BAD LEWIS" HALL he is called, and the shotgun that he carries is famous throughout the mountains for its exploits. Most men of his type carry rifles, but BAD LEWIS will trust nothing but this old - fashioned gun of his. I innocently asked him if he had killed any game with it and the question appeared to amuse him greatly, confirming him in the opinion that I was a tenderfoot. Then he explained that he was a "bad man" and reputed to have committed eighteen murders in the various "troubles" in which he had been engaged. He was a near relative to "TALT" HALL, who was brought to the gallows in Wise County, Virginia, by the "Red Fox of the Mountains" a few months before the latter suffered the death penalty for his own misdeeds.

"BAD LEWIS," with becoming modesty, assured me, however, that his own record was too highly colored by popular tradition. "I ain't killed mo' than three in my day and time," he declared, "an' I jest had ter kill them. They was no account, triflin' folks, they was, an' 'peared like they would be plum better off whar they kaint do no mo' whar they be now."

Singularly enough, "BAD LEWIS" is at present on the side of the law, and has no use for the Kuklux Gang, in this quarrel appearing to side altogether with JOHN WRIGHT. He expressed considerable solicitude, also, as to my welfare while tramping through the kuklux land, and gave me a sort of way bill to the houses that would be best for my health to leave severely alone. Considering the source, the advice was not without a touch of grim humor. "Ef yo' meets up wi' one o' them lawbreakers, " he said as we were parting not far from the Pound Gap, "don't meddle nor make wi' him. He mought be a kukluxer, an' he mought not. Ef he ain't a kukluxer he mought have a trouble o' his'n, an' then ef yo' meddle wi' him, his trouble will be yourn. An' ef he be a kukluxer, atter all, he's lookin' fer trouble wi' you an' eve'r man he meets. So, the best thing fer you, stranger, is to keep yo' gun handy, yo' feet squar' en the road, an' yo' mouth shet so tight, th' devil hiss'ef couldn't squeeze out o' hit." And I did.

Rhoda died in 1908.

1910 CENSUS May 11, 1910, Elkhorn City, Pike County, Kentucky
  • Hall, Lewis 73 head, marriage 2, ten years, KY US KY Farmer
  • Polly 44, wife, marriage 2, had 9 children, 8 living. farm laborer
  • Sada 11, daughter, farm laborer
  • Nicttie 8, daughter
  • Doff 7, son
  • Moore, William 19, step-son
  • All KY KY KY except Lewis
February 11, 1912 from the Atlanta Constitution:

PIKEVILLE, KY., February 10 -- One of the most noted feud leaders in th e BIG SANDY VALLEY, LOUIS HALL, who had boasted of killing twenty-two men, was shot and instantly killed at SHELBY GAP, in the Pine mountains, y esterday morning by CONSTABLE GEORGE JOHNSON and his son, MORGAN HALL, m et the same fate a moment later at the same cool hands. People of that s ection fear a revival of the feud war.

JOHNSON had a warrant for MORGAN HALL, who was suspected of operating a " blind tiger," and had openly defied detectives to enter his home at the f orfeit of their lives. JOHNSON followed HALL out of a store to the porc h, and was in the act of reading the warrant when HALL made signs of re sistance. The elder HALL, who was 83 years old, rushed out of his home a s hort distance away, carrying the rifle on the stock of which it was his b oast he notched the score of his victims. JOHNSON at once opened fire, s hooting first the father and then the son.

The last article I clipped is from an unknown newspaper.

John & Morgan Hall killed while resisting arrest.

LOUIS HALL and his son MORGAN were killed at MILLARD BURKE'S STORE, SHELBY GAP, PIKE COUNTY, by CONSTABLE GEORGE JOHNSON, who had a warrant for MORGAN'S arrest. They resisted and the officer shot both, killing them instantly. The charge was illicit liquor selling. LOUIS HALL was 83 years old and had a bad record. He killed three men named STEEL on TUG about ten years ago in a fight over whiskey.

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