Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who's Going to Hug My Neck First?

I haven't been well lately.  I had probably four days when I didn't even turn my computer on which is very unusual for me. I have wanted to write about grandpa Joe Hall for a long time.  I probably let the anniversary date of his death push me to finally publish something -- even if it wasn't well written.  I guess it always disturbs me that my grandmother Lettie Craft was so humilated, so worn down, so disturbed that she killed herself over Joe's activities with other women.  Some women can move on to another man.  But there are some who take their vows til death do us part seriously.  I suppose that is noble and flawed at the same time.

Obviously, Joe was a likeable man.  Definitely by the women.  The Mountain Eagle article spoke favorably of his family.  The Crafts didn't care for him, but then it was their daughter who hung herself.  I can't imagine they took it well when Druscilla married him within weeks of Lettie's death. 
I like finding out the things about people which make them come alive.  I wish I knew more about Lettie.  I wish I knew more about Joe.

I always heard he was a preacher as well as owning the store and being a post master.  At first I thought he must have been an Old Regular Baptist, but I could never understand them letting someone with so many marriages preach in the church.  Uncle John Vint told me Joe was a "no heller".  They believed that there was no hell after death, but that your hell was on earth.  I have googled no hellers and read various descriptions of the group.  Most say they were Old Regualar Baptists who split in 1924 over the no hell doctrine.

Joe was appointed as the Millstone postmaster October 7, 1890 in Letcher County, KY   He was  succeeded in this role by the appointment of Arch C. Craft on  June 22, 1892. He was appointed postmaster of the Hellier (Pike County)  post office on July 1907.  He succeeded Isabella Hall, who served from March 20, 1907 to July 16, 1907 . He was succeeded as postmaster by Shade R. Combs on March 17, 1908. He: was reappointed as the Millstone postmaster September 23, 1920 Letcher County,  He continued to serve in this capacity until his death in October 1928. Irvin Collier was named as his successor on November 22,  1928.

I wanted to know what kind of father or grandfather Joe was.  Did he pay attention to the kids?  I asked Aunt Hazel if she saw her father after he divorced her mother. 

Oh yes. I had a stone bruise on my foot. You probably don’t know what that is – it’s from going barefoot. It was ready to open. Dad came and held me and opened the stone bruise.
She went on to talk about gifts that he gave her as a child:

The first gift my Dad gave to me and Lettie was a paperback songbook. Oh how I wish I had that songbook today, but I was little and I didn’t know how much I would want it later on. The second gift we got from Dad was a little gold compact with powder. The third gift we got was a child’s umbrella.

At Christmas when I was five years old (1924) Dad gave me a little rocking chair. It was made by John Bentley. (Hazel said she still had the chair and Myrtle brought it out for us to see. Myrtle keeps a doll sitting in it now.)
This is Hazel's son Arnold in the rocking chair.
This is the rocking chair today.
Cousin Opal said that Joe always kept a yellow slicker which he would have draped over his arm.  When he would come toward them he would hold his arms out and say, "Who's going to hug my neck first?"  Hazel told me the same story.  I would like to think there were a lot of hugs.
Nobody has questioned it yet, but if you think I made a mistake on Sarah Caudill's date of death, I might have.  It might not have been August 8th, but it was 1889. 
(1) I believe this because it is written in Joe Hall's Bible as 1889.  Everything in the Bible was written in Joe's hand except that entry.  He apparentley bought the Bible for Lettie or at the occassion of their marriage.  The marriage page is filled in with his marriage to her.  All the deaths and births and some marriages are filled in.  Sarah's death was written in by Nancy Alice Hall, his daughter.  I believe what granny wrote. 

(2)  Opal Hall Holbrook said that her dad was about two when his mother died.  She said she heard this from her mother and father.  She also spent time with Granny Siller and heard it from her.

(3)  Hazel Hall said that Alvin was about two when Sarah died and that he married Lettie right away.

(4)  It follows the pattern.  I doubt Joe was alone with five children for two years before he remarried.

I did go to the Frank Tackett cemetery where I had heard Sarah was buried to try to find her stone.  I found many Hall stones in one section.  There were several that you could not read, but appeared to fall where the Halls lay.  It is possible she was in one of those graves, but there wasn't anything I could do to say any was hers for sure.  I have not found any record of her death in Kentucky vital records.

So, though most of the genealogies you see online will list Sarah's death as childbirth when Alvin was born, I don't believe it because of what Granny, Alvin, Hazel and Siller said about her time of death.

As a post script, maybe this little saying doesn't mean that much to you, but I like knowing that Joe would come toward the children and grandchildren seeking hugs.  Uncle D. V. made up a sticker of a saying that Poppy used which read "I'm ashamed of my People".  Now it was supposed to mean the opposite was the way it was explained to me.  He made them up on the 100th anniversary of Poppy's death, but I just never got it.  I guess you had to be there.  For me, I hope someone remembers that I wanted a hug.

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