Clarke County Historical Museum

P.O. Box 388
116 W. Cobb Street
Grove Hill, AL  36451
251-275-2014 Bookstore
251-275-8684 Office

Operating Hours
Museum and Bookstore:
Monday: 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday - Friday: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Office: Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The Clarke County Historical Society is a private non-profit organization founded in 1972.




Hal’s Lake

The story of Hal’s Lake begins in the early 1800s. Hal was a slave of Col. Alex Hollinger who lived on Poll Bayou. Hal was strong and enormous in size. His owner moved to Claiborne and took Hal with him, and while on a trip away, Hal escaped, taking his wife and several others to a remote location in the very southernmost portion of Clarke County.

Now, this place is very desolate, no one lived near there. It was overgrown with enormous trees and thick underbrush. Vast wilderness of canes, trees and vines where deer, alligator, bears and other large game are still found. But you need a guide if you intend to come out. Since it was where the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers met, it flooded often, creating murky, damp marshes and swamps. So it was little wonder that the runaway slaves were not found. They built a large cabin at the lake and survived by killing wild game and rafting down the river to Mobile, where they sold the animal hides. With this money they were able to buy guns, ammunition and supplies.

During the five years, they went undetected, but their numbers grew to 20. And then, the members of Hal’s Kindgom began to get sloppy. They would steal cattle and food from river plantations- and the settlers there began to get wise that Hal and the other runaway slaves were somewhere in the swamps. They decided to lay in wait one night and captured one of the Hal’s Lake fugitives, named Joe, and instructed him to lead them to the lake. Joe tried to mislead them by taking them elsewhere (now called Joe’s Bayou for him), but they figured out the ploy and demanded they be shown the hideout.

When they arrived, Hal and the others were ready. The settlers were stunned to find the cabin and a stockade of cypress logs. The runaway slaves fired at them from behind the fort walls. Unfortunately, Hal and three others were killed. But Hal still remains a hero of antebellum days. He was a famous freedom fighter. Many historians from across the state are interested in Hal’s Lake. They believe the area could have been a stop in an underground railroad.

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