The attempt to set forth a true history of any man or institution should be an intelligent effort. That is, the biographer must know his subject. It was not the writer's privilege to have a long and intimate personal acquaintance with Bro. J. N. Hall; but the period of our personal acquaintance was one of such vivid and trying experiences that the character and inner life of the man were laid bare at every step and every turn.
It will be remembered that the famous attack by S. A. Hayden of Texas was made during the months from November, 1904, to November, 1905. Those who read the attacks will remember their character and the victory of Dr. Hall before a committee mutually chosen at Texarkana, Texas. This most wanton and unprovoked attack on a friend was one of the painful experiences of his life, and yet how magnanimously he rose above it, and, like the Christian gentleman that he was, offered his hand to his enemies, proposing to forgive all, and asking forgivenness for any wrong that he may have committed. Death came with the hand of brotherly forgivenness still vainly extended.
During this same period of time others that he had trusted as friends in the most intimate way, seized the opportunity of his confidence to
injure him in every way possible. In all these dire experiences, which affected not only his good name and fortune, but others with whom he was connected, he stood, like the great oak in the storm with only true and kind words for his enemies. Men of wicked intentions accused him of working the people after the Texas coal oil plan, and charged him with robbing the widow out in Arkansas.
The strenuous and trying situation into which I was thrust with him on account of these attacks, brought to my view the superiority of the man, not only in intellectual gifts, but in moral and Christian character. The first time the writer ever saw Dr. Hall, he was climbing the platform in Concordia Hall, Little Rock, Ark., at the opening session of the Baptist State Association in 1903. The first sermon that I heard him preach was on the following Sunday at the same place. The first conversation with him was at the General Association of Texas, at Dallas, in 1904. Our mutual business interests brought us together in personal conversation. At that meeting our strong mutual attachment began and grew and strengthened during the brief, intimate and strenuous association that followed, ending with his death, a little over one year later. Our last meeting was in the Southern Hotel at Texarkana, Texas, at the General Association of America, in 1905. On our way down to that meeting, the subject of his delicate health came up, and the importance of his life to the Baptist interests, and he remarked cheerfully: "Brother Barker,
the Lord is never short of men." The last time I saw him alive was in that hotel as he went to sleep under the influence of medicine. At his suggestion I went to sleep on a bed in the same room. During that period of sleep, our final separation in this world occurred. He quietly dressed himself and left without disturbing me, and went to Prescott, Arkansas.
Some incidents during our acquaintance show the man. At one time the aspect of the battle was &uch that I thought of changing my position, and declared my intention to him and he replied: "Stick to your bush, trust the Lord, and I will stand by you."
At another time I came up with a Convention Baptist (?) preacher at an association in Arkansas, who was circulating a scurrilous report against him, and I suggested to him to handle the man by law. I apprised Brother Hall of my ideas, and he replied: "When you have dealt with as many such skunks as I have, you will want to 'handle' them just as little as possible." The wisdom of the suggestion has since been made manifest.
The first words Dr. Hall ever spoke to me were, "Well, now, Brother Barker, I am devoutly glad to see you; you look like you might be good." The last words were: "Now lie down and rest, Brother Barker, I am feeling much better." The last words he ever wrote me were: "I will have to leave the Flag in your hands; do your best, as I know you will. It will be weeks before I am able to do anything, if I ever am. I am ready for my
departure, God bless you;" and so he went to his rest.
He also mentioned Brethren Williams and Bandy, in a most tender manner, and that he had spoken to them to assist me all tney could in the crisis. These dying words have always been a bond of tender attachment to these two excellent brethren, who were then and are still personal strangers to me; but whose names are familiar to all old Flag readers, and who still are staunch friends of The Flag.
This delicate but pleasant work of helping to set forth his life, for the betterment and help of others, comes as a duty as unexpected and unsought as that of sitting at his desk and wielding his pen; and both equally honorable.
My short acquaintance, and a desire to have Dr. Hall seen in the light of his own labors, rather than the glamour of eulogy by another, we have decided that he, himself, shall write the most of this volume.
W. M. Barker =======
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