J. M. Hall, Father of Tulsa,Obituary 1935

J. M. Hall, Father of Tulsa, Obituary 1935

J. M. Hall Obituary 1935 J. M. Hall Obituary 1935

Tulsa World, May 27, 1935





Came Here in 1883,

Built and Operated

Original Tulsa Store




Life History of Man

Closely Parallels History

of Oil Metropolis

By Walter Ahlum of the World Staff


J. M. HALL, who with his brother, M. C. HALL selected the location of Tulsa and built the first store here half a century ago, died at 6:30 o’clock Sunday morning at his home at 1801 East Admiral Boulevard from a complication of ailments that had kept him inactive for several months. He was 86 years old.

Funeral services will be held at 3:30 o’clock Tuesday afternoon from the First Presbyterian Church with Dr. C. W. Kerr, pastor, officiating. Arrangements are in charge of Stanley and McCune, funeral directors. Active pall bearers will be J. M. Chandler, Jong S. Davenport, Elton Hunt, Dr. Malcolm McKeller, C. M. Nicholson, J. A. Hull, F. B. Deshon, and J. Burr Gibbons.

HALL was privileged to experience the satisfaction of seeing a metropolitan city develop from the bald prairie expanse where he pitched his tent home in a district entirely inhabited by Indians and in the continued growth of which he always had a leading part. Except for J. M. HALL and his interest in the cultural and religious as well as the financial aspect of the city’s development, the Tulsa of today would not present its present well-rounded picture of development.



Tulsa’s recognized founder was born near Nashville, Tennessee, on a farm, and was educated at Union Academy, Marshall County, of that state. At the age of 17 he moved to Oswego, Kansas, and in the winter of 1872, located near McAlester, then to the Indian Territory, where he had charge of a coal mining store connected with the first mine opened in that district.

He remained in that position for three years, when the store was sold, and he returned to Oswego and engaged in the grocery business until January, 1882, when he moved to Vinita and took charge of a store that furnished supplies to the men constructing the A & P Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, now the Frisco which was being built from Vinita to a junction with the Arkansas River, where the city of Tulsa is now located.



HALL came to Tulsa the following year, 1883. At that time there was not a house or sign of civilization where the city now stands. Hall and his brother build and opened the first store at this point and were engaged in mercantile business together until March, 1906 when his brother died and he continued it alone until spring of 1908 when he sold out and entered the banking business. He later drifted into the real estate business and was a part owner of J. M. Gillette in marketing the Gillette-HALL addition in the east section of the city and were his home has been located for the last twenty years.

Mr. HALL is survived by three daughters, one son and a widow, all residing here. They are Mrs. Juanita H. Scott, Mrs. Fred L. Dunn, , Mrs. A. E. Bradshaw, Harry Hall, and Mrs. J. M. Hall.



His life history has almost been the history of Tulsa, for so closely allied with the town’s progress was he that there was scarcely an enterprise launched that did not in some way reflect his influence. He established the first Sunday school here, assisted in the establishment of free schools and as the town grew in population always assumed leadership in every movement that advanced its cultural, religious, and business advantages. He was one of the men who organized the Tulsa Commercial Club in 1902 and maintained active membership in the organization until 1932 when he was honored by being presented with an honorary life membership.

During the past 14 years his interest has centered in the work of the Tulsa Association of Pioneers which he helped Dr. S. G. Kennedy and Dr. James Kennedy organize and of which he was president for several years. He has been looking eagerly forward the annual picnic of the organization at the Doctor Kennedy farm northwest of the city on June 13 when a monument to pioneers who laid Tulsa’s foundation stones is to be unveiled. Hall penned the two inscriptions that have been engraved on the memorial. He refused to again serve as the association’s president three weeks ago because of ill health and was succeeded by Harry Campbell, a pioneer attorney.


The annual meeting of the Tulsa pioneers, nearly 1,000 strong this June, will be saddened by the death of the city’s founder and will be in the nature of a memorial to the man who, during the trying periods of Tulsa’s early struggles, was always willing to surrender all he possessed--money, faith, energy, and work--to any movement that increased the happiness and well being of those early settlers who came here to build homes in the Indian wilderness.

Hall came to Tulsa with the building of the Frisco railroad. M. C. Hall and C. M. Condon of Oswego, Kansas, B. F. Hobart of Springfield, Mo., and O. B. Gann of Kansas City, Mo., were the contractors. M. C. Hall looked after the pay rolls and bought supplies for the stores that supplied the men who were employed on the road. There were no stores or towns between Vinita and the Arkansas River at that time. J. M. Hall had charge of the tent store which was moved along from place to place as the road work extended west. The tent was pitched for the last time near where the Frisco crosses Lewis Avenue which had been selected for a terminal and the center of the new town to be established.

The site was later moved west to near First and Main Streets when it was found that white persons were subjected to a considerable handicap in transporting products in the Cherokee nation where it was first proposed to locate the town whereas in the Creek Nation only a few blocks farther west while men were welcomed on a equality basis with Indians and Intermarried citizens.



Chauncey Owen, who had been furnishing beef to men working on the road, put up a boarding tent. The HALL brothers decided to settle in the new town and start a store. J. T. Archer erected his tiny store in a tent on the Frisco right of way. A few other merchants set up for business in tents and shanties and Tulsa’s business section was a reality.

M. C. HALL, early in 1883, began the erection of the first store building in Tulsa as soon as the streets were surveyed and together with J. M. HALL went into a business that was to become known all over the southwest for its honest dealings.

The building the HALL boys erected ???east on Main Street on what is now the northwest corner of First and Main Streets. It was a one-story frame affair, 25 by 80 feet with a 16-foot lean-to on the north and a 12 -foot lean-to on the south. The lumber sheds and farm implements were on the west. Later the building was raised to two stories and enclosed by a fence, and eventually was removed to be replaced by a two-story brick building on a part of the property. This is still known as the Hall building.



Erection of other business buildings soon followed for Tulsa drew a merchant class of settlers. J. C. Perryman and Hat Reed, the latter of Coffeyville, built a store on Main Street, which was later taken over by R. N. Bynum. T. J. Archer replaced his tent store with a fine building. Within a few years of the town’s beginning, Main Street became a bustling little thoroughfare for a prairie community.

In 1884 HALL decided that the children of the growing community were entitled to some school privileges and organized the citizens into a group that would supply that deficiency. So they got together and constructed a small, white-walled, shingle-roofed structure which was to serve as a joint school and church house for the town’s population. Two teachers and a minister, imported largely at the expense of the Presbyterian missions in New York, arrived in the fall and school began. Mrs. Lilah D. Linsay, still a Tulsa resident came to Tulsa as a missionary teacher.

Church services had, however, been begun here by HALL in advance of the erection of a building. The first sermon preached in Tulsa was in the spring of 1883 when the Rev. R. M. Loughridge from the Wekiwa Mission School, 20 miles south of Tulsa stood on the porch of the Hall store and preached God’s Word to a congregation which included many professional gamblers who tried to break up the religious services by jeers and discourteous remarks.

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About that time HALL succeeded in organizing a Sunday School in company with two other persons and due to the fact that he was a Presbyterian, Dr. W. P. Brooker was a Baptist and Mrs. Siater was a Congregationalist, it was called the Union Sunday School. The First service was held in the home of Mrs. Siater, who was the wife of a railroad carpenter. Services were held in the homes of the organizers until the school house was built and then services were held there.

In October, 1885, the First Presbyterian Church was organized in the mission by HALL, who continued as superintendent of the Sunday School, a responsibility he held for the next 40 years. He was instrumental in having a chapter of the Bible read and a prayer offered each day in the mission school from the first day it was opened in 18884 until the last school session in 1889. Mrs. J. M. Hall came here as school superintendent of the mission school. When Tulsa was incorporated in 1899, the mission school was taken over by the municipality and became the first unit in Tulsa’s public school system.

In that year, HALL, again assumed leadership in community affairs when he, Jay Forsythe, Joe Price, and R. N. Bynum, from their own personal funds, bought the school property comprising the entire block upon which the Philtower, Atlas Life, Sosden and other buildings now stand from the home mission school board in New York City because at that time the city could only tax personal property and did not have the money on hand. these four men held the property until the city had sufficient funds to reimburse them. The school board is now receiving a sizable income from leases made for business enterprises on the property.



The passing of HALL removes from Tulsa’s citizenship the last of that group of sturdy pioneers who have witnessed its growth and development from a collection of tent stores and living quarters to one of the most important commercial and industrial cities in the southwest.

He watched with interest its progress during more than half a century--from a country unpeopled except by roving bands of Indians--ti a metropolis. He himself took an active part in every civic enterprise for the betterment of social and financial conditions here. A list of his activities through the years reads like an index to Tulsa’s civic life.

For 23 years he was superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday School. In 1894 he served as president of the Tulsa Commercial Club, now know as the Chamber of Commerce. He was one of the organizers of the Tulsa Association of Pioneers and the organizations second president during the hectic years when Tulsans were fighting.

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