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HALL, JAMES MONROE (1851-1935)

Known as "the father of Tulsa," James Monroe Hall owned the first Tulsa store and became a strong city booster. He was a pioneer in many early Tulsa organizations that were important to the city's growth. James Monroe Hall, usually known as "J. M.," was born on December 4, 1851, in Belfast, Tennessee, to Hugh and Esther Ramsey Hall. J. M. Hall graduated from the Union Academy at Marshall County, Tennessee, and then moved west to Oswego, Kansas, at the age of seventeen. In 1872 he relocated to McAlester, Indian Territory, to manage a company store for the Osage Coal and Mining Company. In McAlester he married Lula Pigg. They had three children, Juanita, Lena, and Hugh. Hall wed again during the 1890s to Jennie Stringfield, a Presbyterian missionary based in Tulsa. They had two children, Kathryn and Harry. In 1876 the McAlester mining store that Hall operated was sold, and he returned to Oswego. While there, he opened a grocery business and operated it until 1882.

Hall saw an opportunity with the arrival of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco) in the Vinita area. In 1882 he relocated to Vinita to run a store that catered to the men building a rail line from Vinita to an area near a small Creek village that became Tulsa. His brother H. C. Hall, a contractor for the Frisco railroad, was responsible for managing the payroll and supplying the rail crew with provisions. J. M. Hall operated a tent store that moved along with the railroad as work was completed, providing goods for the workmen. In August 1882 the railroad reached the junction of the Arkansas River in the Cherokee nation near present Tulsa. Hall persuaded the surveyors to move the junction and sidings about two miles to the west into the Creek Nation, where the trade laws were more liberal. The railroad crews moved on, but J. M. and H. C. Hall decided to remain and set up their tent store on the north side of the right-of-way. Other tent stores quickly sprang up, and Hall, in partnership with his brother, built Tulsa's first wood-frame store building, located on the northwest corner of First and Main streets.

In 1884 Hall organized Tulsa's first school, staffed and financed by Presbyterian church missionaries. In 1885 he succeeded Josiah Perryman and became Tulsa's second postmaster and also organized the First Presbyterian Church. He was an elder and served as superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday School for forty years. A Democrat and active in politics, Hall advocated unifying Oklahoma and Indian territories into one state. In 1900 elected chairman of the Indian Territory Central Committee, he held that position until 1902. The J. M. Hall Mercantile operated until 1903, when he sold it to engage in banking and real estate. Hall assisted with the creation of the Tulsa Commercial Club in 1902 and served as its president in 1904. He also was on the University of Tulsa's board of trustees for twenty-five years. J. M. Hall died at his home on May 26, 1935.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Harry Campbell, "James Monroe Hall, 1851-1935," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 13 (June 1935). Nina Lane Dunn, Tulsa's Magic Roots (Tulsa, Okla.: N. L. D. Corp., 1979). James M. Hall, The Beginning of Tulsa (Tulsa, Okla.: s.n., 1933). Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 27 May 1935.

Heath C. Henry

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