"He Carried an Old Navy Six Shooter"

Murder in Oak Grove!

On May 17, 1871, John Wesley O'Farrell was killed in Oak Grove, Florida. Rumors and tall tales about the incident have become some of the greatest stories in the lore of the O'Farrell and Hall families of Northwest Florida. The only true documentation we have of the incident is a few newspaper articles describing the trial of the accused murderer, Coyler Hall, and some transcripts of grand jury testimony. But, even those sources might be suspect, since the trial didn't take place until 25 years after the killing.

Here's what we know:

On May 17, 1871, John Wesley O'Farrell was killed. According to the transcript of testimony before a grand jury, he was shot by one or more of Colyer Hall, James Hall, Taylor Hall, Andrew Hall, and Alexander Hall. The findings of the grand jury were issued in the Fall term, 1871.

Twenty-five years later, Colyer Hall was arrested and charged with murder. An article in the July 23, 1896 edition of The Daily News of Pensacola, Florida, describes the first day of proceedings in the bail hearing, and provides the best description of what happened. The July 24, 1896 edition describes the next day's proceedings.

The trial took place a few months later, and is described in articles printed on February 5, 1897, February 9 1897, and February 10, 1897. In the end, Colyer Hall was found not guilty.

Be sure to visit The O'Farrell Place!


©2004 John O'Farrell