Jonas J. Hail, Jr.
Researched by Wyvonne Putman,
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll", Vol. XXI 1987
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical Society
Jonas J. Hail, Jr. came to Navarro County in 1870,
settling at Birdston where he farmed 553 acres of land.
He was born in San Augustine County, Texas, in
1840, the son of Jonas J. Amanda M. (Ewing) Hail of North Carolina and Tennessee, who
arrived in Texas in 1832.
Jonas, Sr. brought his family by overland route
and settled within three miles of the old town of San Augustine, in San Augustine County,
where he engaged in farming and stock raising. In 1835 he joined the Texas Patriots at the
Battle of San Jacinto. However, because he was crippled very badly, he took no active part
in the battle. After the war he returned home and resumed farming until 1846.
In that year Jonas, Sr. again took up arms in
defense of his native land the protection of his family, serving during that memorable
struggle, the Mexican War, which lasted for about two years. Another noted pioneer of
Navarro County, Alexander Beaton (1820-1899) served in that War.
Jonas was not a participant in the Civil War
because of his health and the fact that he was sixty-four years of age, although his
sympathies and financial support was given freely to the cause of the South. He engaged in
the mercantile business in San Augustine until his death in 1869. He had accumulated
considerable property and at the end of the Civil War was a wealthy man.
Jonas Hail, Sr. was never troubled with the
Indians and frequently went with parties for the protection of the Frontier settlers.
Although he was a good friend of General Sam Houston, he took no interest in political
Jonas J. Hail, Jr. was educated in the
subscription schools of San Augustine County. At age twenty-one he cast his first vote for
the secession of Texas. In July, 1861, he joined Company K, First Texas Regiment, which
was known as the Texas Invincibles, under Captain Frank Benton. This group proceeded to
Virginia and there became a part of the First Texas Infantry, commanded by Colonel A. T.
Rainey of Palestine, Texas.
Jonas, Jr. enlisted as a private and took part in
Ethan's Landing, Seven Pines, in a seven day battle around Richmond, the Second Manassas,
then went into winter quarters at Fredericksburg. He then participated in the Battle of
Fredericksburg, then Cold Water, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and was at the Battle of
Noxville, however he took no part in this last battle. In 1863 he went into winter
quarters at Morristown, Tennessee. He joined General Robert E. Lee's Army in the spring of
1864 and served in the battles of Wilderness, Spottsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor,
Pittsburg and Darbytown Road. There was another battle fought on this road in which
General John Ghrig and about half of the command were killed. Just after the fall of this
General, Hail was made Color Bearer, a position he held until the Battle of Farmerville.
After the fall of Richmond, the General in command
asked for volunteer scouts to gain the rear of the United States Army on third road
leading to Farmerville. Hail, Nat Faulkner and Dick Curtis were selected for this
dangerous mission. They reconnoitered ( a survey to gain information ) and reported to
General Lee after they succeeded in gaining the rear of the Army.
At the surrender of General Lee, April 10, 1865,
Jonas Hail and seven other men from Texas, who had been keeping the Confederate Generals
informed as to the movement of the United States forces, gave their report. Then they
immediately started for Texas and home. On that day they captured fourteen prisoners,
thirteen whites and one negro. Among them were several lieutenants and one Captain
Valentine. They marched their prisoners thirteen miles and then paroled them. Hail signed
General Lee's name to the parole.
Jonas Hail started home on April 10, a journey
that took to the end of July, because he spent eight weeks in Mississippi, because of
He resumed farming in Houston County, where his
father had given him land. He moved to Birdston, Navarro County, in 1870, settling on land
given to his wife by her father. He was married to Mary A. Burleson, who was born in San
Augustine County in 1843. She was the daughter of James and Mary (Warren) Burleson. Mary
Burleson Hail's uncle was General Edward Burleson.
Jonas tells a story about the early days.
"A Mr. Shadrach Thomas then owned a white
horse and ox, and at the time of the stampede he became so excited that he nearly lost his
mind. Running to the lot, where he kept his horse and ox, he mounted on the back of the
latter animal, turned his head toward Louisiana, and was not aware of the fact of his
being on the ox until crossing a small stream. The animal lowered his head to drink, and
Mr. Thomas went to settle himself on its back more firmly by holding to the mane when he
found instead of his being on the horse he was mounted on his ox! The emigrants remained
in Louisiana only a few days, and then returned home."
Jonas Hail, Jr. farmed 533 acres of land at
Birdston. He was elected sheriff of Navarro County in 1902, serving until 1904; then he
was elected for another from 1906 to 1908. He raised a family of ten children. He was a
member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and of the Masonic Lodge. Hail was
universally respected and was a good sheriff. He died January 1, 1926, and is buried in
the Birdston Cemetery.
[ note: see also Navarro Co. History, Vol 2, pg
420 and Navarro County Scroll 1976
Vol XXI ]
Fairfield Texas - Friday, January 8, 1926
PIONEER CITIZEN DIES IN CORSICANA
J. J. (Uncle Joe) HALE, 86 years old, a Confederate Veteran and member of
Hood’s Brigade, died here Sunday afternoon. The deceased was sheriff of
Navarro County four terms many years ago. Four daughters, Mrs. Charles GREGORY,
Streetman, Mrs. A. M. MATTHEWS, Mrs. William ROBINSON and Mrs. D. C. KELLY of
Corsicana survive. No funeral arrangements have been made but funeral and burial
will take place in Streetman.
Mr. HALE had been a resident of Navarro County for sixty years.
Hood's Texas Brigade: In Reunion
and Memory by Harold B. Simpson:
He was a member of Hood's Texas Brigade Association and in 1925
he served as Vice-President of the Association. Plus he
contributed funds to the Texas Brigade Monument on the Capitol
Grounds, Austin, Texas.
Submitted by Norman
Stubbs, Commander of J. L. Halbert Camp