Robert Hall was a lover and a fighter.
As one of Ben McCulloch’s Rangers, he fought Indians (and helped lay out the town of Seguin.)
Next he fought annexation, famously saying, “I voted first, last, and always for the Lone Star.” But when his countrymen made the decision to join the union, he fought for the US in the Mexican War.
A decade and a half later he fought against secession. Again, his countrymen decided contrary to his wishes. He spent the next three years fighting for the Confederacy.
One thing nobody could deny: Robert Hall was loyal to Texas.
He was also loyal to Polly, daughter of Colonel John King, a Gonzales County pioneer.
Problem was, another fella wanted Polly for himself and was spreading rumors that Robert had a wife back in Tennessee. Old Colonel King was not about to give his daughter’s hand to such a rogue.
Robert decided to be patient and win over the Colonel by being brave, upright and honorable in his behavior. One day, after pursuing and defeating a band of Indians that had killed a local woman and her child, Colonel King took him aside.
I’ll let Robert take up the story:
After it was all over, Col. King called me to him and simply said:
“A brave man never lies. Tell me the truth. Have you got a family back in the States?”
I replied: “Colonel, I was never married in my life, nor did I ever love another girl but your daughter. If you will give her to me I will do everything in my power to make her a good husband.”
“Give me your hand, my brave boy,” he said. “I believe you will do it.”
I was the happiest man in the world. We were married on the 20th of June, 1837. We lived together forty-five years, and thirteen children were born to us. We were always happy together and never happy out of each other’s sight.
In our old age we did more courting than we did under the swinging moss on the old plantation when we were young, and Polly’s voice was full of sweeter notes than the mockingbirds in the trees.
In 1881 Robert lost his Polly.
To deal with his grief, he began attending more veterans’ reunions and other gala events. He had been active the Texas Veterans Association since the 1870s. He had even made himself a special “Frontiersman’s suit” to wear at these events.
And what a suit it was!
Robert Hall in his 80s
It was made of buckskin, trimmed with black velvet and decorated with floral bead work, fringe and herringbone embroidery.
The jacket was appliqued with cowhide, jaguar, rabbit and other skins, cut into various animal and geometric shapes. The back panel was a woolly sheepskin, partially dyed red. The hem was weighted with 150 carved dew claws from whitetail deer.
At six foot four and thus bedecked, Robert Hall was a sight to behold!
That hunting horn you see in the picture has a tale of its own. The story goes that Jean Lafitte had taken it off the body of a dead pirate and presented it to Jane Long when she was under his “protection” after Dr. Long’s capture. Mrs. Long later gave it to Sam Houston, who presented it to Robert Hall for his bravery in fighting the Comanches.
It was his prized possession. He once said, “If I were out of bread it would take a million to buy that horn.”
Hall died in 1899 at the age of 84.
His suit was displayed at the Centennial in 1936, where is was worn for a photo-op by Cary Grant.
The suit and horn, along with Robert Hall’s canteen, were sold by a Cincinnati auction house in 2010.
The hammer price was $35,250.