Alexander County

Biography - John Hail

JOHN Z. J. N. HAIL, millwright and farmer, P. O. Mill Creek, Union County. Elias Hail, the father of our subject, was born in North Carolina in 1791; reached manhood and married Nancy Strand, daughter of A. Strand. She was the mother of seven children. Of that number, our subject is the youngest, and was born July 3, 1851. The father, when subject was about four j-ears of age, left North Carolina and came to Newton County, Ga., where he died the next year. Our subject attended school but three months, and obtained most of his education in after life, by the light of the back-log. As soon as he was old enough, he learned the trade of a carpenter and millwright, under a man by the name of James Key, of Jonesboro, Ga. When he reached manhood, he married, August 20, 1856, Margaret Ann Hurdle, a native of North Carolina. She was the mother of four children, all of whom are dead. Our subject moved to Montgomery, Ala., in the fall of 1856, and there commenced operations by working at the trade of a journeyman carpenter for about a year and a half. In the fall of 1857, he again moved, this time to Marion County, in the same State, where, under the homestead law, he entered a farm of 320 acres. At this point, he had hardly become settled, when the troubles of the war commenced to make things very unpleasant. Although born in the South, and at that time living in the heart of the Southern Confederacy, he did not believe that secession was right, and would not enlist on that side. He was compelled, finally, to fly for safety, and so one night he and his Union neighbors formed themselves into a body and started north toward the Union lines. There were 108 men in the company when it left Marion County, but their journey was beset everywhere by difficulties. The exact position of the Union forces could not be ascertained, and guerrillas and rebels fought them on every hand, and when at last, on September 7, 1862, the company reached the Union lines, at Tunnel Creek Bridge, on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, in Tennessee, where the Seventh Illinois Cavalry was stationed, there were but eight men left. Among that number was our subject, and he immediately enlisted in that regiment, and remained there until January, 1864, when he was honorably discharged on account of disability. When Mr. Hail went away from his Southern home, he left his wife on the old place to take care of the property, and one night, after the husband had been gone about nine months, she received news that a band of rebels were coming to burn down the property. She and her mother, gathering together a little clothing, fled the same night, to Tuscumbia, Ala., where a brother of Mr. Hail was engaged in running a bakery, and the next night the house and outbuildings were burned to the ground. At that town, Mrs. Hail remained until some time in June, 1863, when Gen. Dodge, at the head of a large body of Union cavalry, made a raid through that section, and routed the Southern forces in and around Tuscumbia. When the victorious force came North again, Mrs. Hail placed herself under the soldiers' care and came North, as far as Corinth with the soldiers, and from there she was sent to Jackson, Tenn., where 3Ir. Hail came to see her, he having obtained a seven da3-s' leave of absence from LaGrange, Tenn., where the soldiers were then stationed. When the husband parted from his wife at the end of his furlough, it was their last parting. Mrs. Hail, from that place came to Richview, Washington Co., Ill., and there she died, July 7, 1863. When Mr. Hail came North the next January, he came to that town, but there only found the silent tomb as a remembrance of his wife. He had been discharged from a hospital, and he remained in that town until he had partially recovered his health, and then came to Ullin, Pulaski County, where he hired to a Mr. Bell, who was then repairing his flouring mill at that point. Here our subject remained till March, 1865; then moved to a farm near Dongola, Union County. In 1872, he purchased his present location, a farm of 100 acres in Section 5, Township 14 south, Range 1 west; also owns a half interest in the Hail's point water mill, on Mill Creek. Our subject was married the second time, February 20, 1 867, to Mrs. Isabella Anna Woodley, a daughter of Diewault and Sallie Miller. By this union there have been eight children, four of whom are living — Elmira, John, Calvin and Fleta May. In politics, Mr. Hail is a Republican, and is a member of Elco Lodge, No. 643.

Extracted 29 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, pages 223-224.

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