William Hull

William Hull was a charter member of the Union Horse Company, formed in 1869 to protect the interests of the settlers of the areas around Hinkletown in Iowa County, the Fairview area of Washington County, and the northern half of Liberty Township in Keokuk County, Iowa. The family story below, courtesy of M. Shane Symes, mentions contact with the outlaw Jesse James. In the townships of the three counties that border at or near Hinkletown, stories abound about sightings, appearances, campsites and incidents involving Jesse James. Considering the date of inception of the Union Horse Company and the activities of Jesse James and later the James Gang, it is reasonable to wonder how the James' crimes may have influenced the members of the Union Horse Company.

William Hull: Son of Abijah Hull of Erie, Pennsylvania

According to Marcus D. Hull, William Hull left Erie, Pennsylvania in 1838 and traveled southward through Maryland and west into Tennessee where he spent some time with his uncle, the grandfather of Cordell Hull. By easy stages he came at last to that part of Iowa where his brothers Marcus, Hiram, Aaron and Abijah had settled a year or so earlier. They had walked as he did. They arrived some time in 1839 and him in 1840. He was 21 years old.

His brother Marcus was a surveyor and this was new country, totally unsurveyed. Marcus ran the lines and laid out the various civil and social centers, taking his pay in land. Marcus’s brothers each bought 160 acres of land at $1.25 an acre from the government. Later they added to their holdings at the same price. They built log cabins on the land and fulfilled all the requirements of the law. William Hull bought 240 additional acres, making a holding of 400 acres in all. He batched in his cabin near the English River until after he married Ruth Stinchomb.

Ruth was a sister of Joshua Stinchomb who had visited Iowa in company with other young men and was so pleased with it that he walked all the way back to Ohio and brought back his widowed mother, several sisters and two brothers. One brothers’ name was Washington, the other’s name is not remembered. Third time over the trail, he drove an ox team that pulled a wagon.

William Hull married Ruth Stinchomb, her sister Candace married a man named Bull, and another sister Margaret married William Duer. The others married and settled near by, but I have no trace of them. Joshua also married a woman named Margaret, so the children called their aunts, Aunt Meg Stinchomb and Aunt Meg Duer. William Duer had also come there in 1838 or 1839.

Sometime after his marriage William Hull built a large brick house on the "county line." Leaving the cabin on the river for a refuge when new families came into the land and needed a temporary home. The new house had a tall brick chimney at each end, fire places for comfort as well as use. Sometime in the early 60’s the house burned, probably from a defective chimney. It was winter time. There had been a big apple crop and many stored in the attic. Needing apples for pie baking, Ruth opened the stair door and saw the upper floor was on fire and the flames licked down burning her severely on her arms and forehead. She always carried the scars. Hardly anything could be saved from the house, because it was completely destroyed.

The settlers immediately came to the rescue. In one day they built a new house almost as large as the old one, but it only had one chimney. Godfrey Sigler, who died in September 1946, at the age of 92, was a young boy then. Telling of the house rising, he said that his father bought the bricks from the second chimney and had them made into a chimney on his own house. The man who put up the Sigler chimney said that was the second time he had made those bricks into a chimney and he had made them in the first place.

William Hull and Joshua Stinchomb were noted for their skills as orchardists. They had the best and largest orchards in the country. Wagons came from long distances to get their fruit. They budded and grafted their own fruit. They had large cherry orchards and wonderful apples. The Hull Orchard was the largest and the Stinchomb was the second largest. They were stock farmers and good general farmers.

The Hull’s introduced horses for general purposes in that part of Iowa. Like their neighbors, they used oxen in the beginning and continued their use where they felt they were best suited to their work. No one seems to know the people's reaction of horses being used for general farm use. Godfrey Sigler said "It meant something to own a Hull horse."

As late as 1880, only the Hull’s had riding and driving horses. There were a good many draft horses and heavy wagons, but few light "turnouts." They raised many cattle and William bought cattle and shipped them to the Chicago market. When the railroad came through the new town of Nira, he shipped out the first trainload of cattle from that point and his son Frank went with them as he did with later shipments.

They milked many cows in the late 70’s. Forty was about the usual number being milked. There was a cheese factory in Nira and that was where the milk was marketed. The milk was strained into great tin vats where it set until the cream raised. Then it was drained off through a vent at a slightly lower end. Everybody milked, except the mother and one girl she kept in the house to help her. There were always many people outside the family living at "Uncle Billy’s." Chores took so long that fresh apple pie was not uncommon for breakfast.

There was a workroom in the house where the "factory work" for the family was done. Their wool spun into yarn, carpets woven, quilts made, as well as all the clothing for the family except for boots and shoes. There was a sewing machine, and being the only one in the community it got well used. Whether it is hemming ruffles or sewing up seams, it was the social center of sorts.

Aunt Meg Stinchomb wove cloth, but in the later years, most of the cloth came from the Amish Colony near Iowa City, where the wool could be exchanged for fine woolen cloth or stout blue calico.

When the Civil War was in progress, none of the Hull boys were old enough to enter the service. Young men who left families behind, marched off with easier mends because they knew there was refuge for their loved ones with Uncle Bill and Aunt Ruth and thus the big family grew.

There were many Southern Sympathizers in Lime Creeks Township, but it is hardly likely this family was among them. They were peace-loving law-abiding people. Then too, there was a busy slave-route stationed very near Wassonville. If they had been out of sympathy with the Negroes, it is likely there would have been trouble for the dark people. As it was, many refugees owed his rapid carriage to Springdale to the swift horses and willing service of the Hull and Stinchomb family.

The farm was sold in 1883. William and Ruth moved to a new little town of Nira, which had sprung up with the coming of the Railroad in 1879. Ties for the railroad were cut from the timber on William Hull’s land and Ruth fed the railroad workers. Maggie Palmer (whose grandmother was also a Stinchomb girl who married a man named Jack McElvain) was 12 years old at the time and she washed the dishes for Ruth. She said she never washed so many dishes in all her life, it seemed as all the dishes in the world were right there in the Hull kitchen.

Many interesting things went on at the Hull farm. It was a time of national development, a vast movement of people and formation of colonies here and there across the Nation. Doubtless many things transpired at the other Hull homes, as for them I have no information.

When the Mormons were driven from Illinois and settled for an uneasy time in Iowa before pushing on West, they went through Washington and nearby counties, buying up cattle to use on their wagons. William was a cattle buyer and shipper. He had large holding pens. The gates were wide enough for the largest wagons to pass. The posts were of "timbers" set six feet deep and the gate swung free all the way back. Here the Mormons penned their stock until they were ready to take them along to their temporary settlement. When stock was brought in, the teammates were chosen and yoked together so that they were always together, whether standing or lying down. One morning when they were taking out stock, young Frank was sitting on the top rail watching the proceedings when a team of young steers made a rush for the gate. One went through but the others wide horns caught around the deep set timber and broke his neck.

The Billy Hull place was a busy one. There was always a lot of work and a lot of people would come and go. One evening an able looking young man rode in on a lame horse. He asked if he could stay until his horse’s leg healed. He would do anything about the place there was to do. Of course, he spoke well when spoken to, but volunteered no information. They liked him since he was a good man and apparently clean spoken. Any man who used foul language was immediately asked to leave. This man kept to himself, devoting his attention to caring for his horse. When there was no task he could perform, then he rested. Naturally the young boys were curious and they soon started watching him. They found that he was not only tending a sore leg on his horse, but one of his own too. They told their father, but he told them to mind their own business. Probably the man had an accident as riders often do and he was no cry baby. The horse healed and so did he. One morning he was gone, leaving a note of thanks and wishing them well. About 2 weeks later, William came home from where ever he had been, carrying a newspaper he had picked up. In it was a picture of their late guest and an account of a train robbery in which he had taken part and the surmise that he had not come off Scot free. It was Jesse James. No matter what others might have said or thought, the Hull Boy’s always had a good word for Jesse.

By 1883 the five children were all gone from the home. John the oldest said "The boys are off for California in the morning. I believe I’ll go with them." He was 25 years old. William having done the same, but at an earlier age, said "If that is what you want, it’s all right with me." John went and his father never saw him again. He married in the West, thus beginning the John Owens Hull family.

Sarah had married Spent Marr and lived in Sioux City, Iowa. William Byron the second son, had married Alice McIntyre, and was still in Iowa. Franklyn Porter who had married Emma Jane Chapman had gone to live in Nebraska. Nellie had married August Klockentager and lived near by.

Spent Marr was named Spencer. Born May 30, 1848, and died December 2, 1921. Sarah was born December 28, 1852, and died on February 24, 1919. To Sarah and Spent Marr were born two children; Ralph and Ivie. Ivie was born September 16, 1875, and died December 27, 1887. Ralph was born December 7, 1883, and is still living in Upland, California. Ralph married twice, his first wife and her baby died in child birth. Later he married Iva Goodban. To them was born a son Ralph Jr. who died at birth. I do not know the date of when Sarah and Spent moved to Upland, California.

Nellie and her husband Gus Klockentager also headed West settling in Idaho. They had one child, a daughter named Ruth. She was married to Harve Konen. Harve and Ruth had three children one girl named Blanch and two boys.

William had wished to give his two younger sons, William Byron and Franklyn Porter two eighty acre farms off his holdings and have them settle there. But Frank’s brother-in-law had gone to Nebraska and he wanted to follow him. Why Will did not take the land is obscure, but he did not. So the land was sold and William and Ruth bought a place in Nira where William soon sickened and died in 1884 at the age of 65. Shortly afterward Ruth went to live with her daughter Sarah in Sioux City and went with them to Upland, California where she soon died of Consumption. Doubtless if it was properly stated they both died of over work. They were too young for it to have been otherwise.

Ruth was returned to Iowa where she was laid to rest beside William in the beautiful little country cemetery called "Fairview" just a long step and up the hill from the home where all their active lives had been spent.

Courtesy of M. Shane Symes

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