O'Farrell Family Data Sources

Habeas Corpus

Proceedings in the Colyer Hall Case--Testimony of two witnesses who saw John O'Ferrall killed twenty-five years ago.

Habeas corpus proceedings to obtain bail for Colyer Hall, who is charged with the murder of John O'Ferrall, in this county, 25 years ago, were begun at the court house at 10 a.m. today, before Court Commissioner Wm. Kisher , who is sitting in place of Judge Barnes.  

The state is represented by County Solicitor John B. Jones, assisted by Mr. C. M. Jones, and the prisoner by Mr. W. A. Blount of this city, and Mr. Leslie B. Sheldon, of Mobile.

Five witnesses for the state were present and there are more than twenty witnesses summoned for the defense.

The first witness was Mrs. Rebecca O'Ferrall, widow of the man whom the prisoner is charge with killing.   She said that she is about 75 years old and has lived on a place about 10 miles west of Bluff Springs for about 40 years.   The witness is rather deaf and her examination was conducted by Mr. Blount with much difficulty.   Following is a condensed statement of her testimony relating to the killing:

On the day of the killing my husband, John O'Ferrall , myself, C. W. Vickery and his wife and John Beck were rolling logs and clearing up a lot near our place for a cow pen; I was cleaning out the fence row when I saw Colyer, Alexander, Jim, Taylor and Andrew Hall come suddenly from the woods and begin shooting at my husband, O'Ferrall, without saying anything; O'Ferrall ran and threw up his arms. Colyer Hall shot him through the right arm with a rifle and when he fell ran up to him and cut his throat with a long knife; am positive that Colyer Hall fired the first shot, as he had a double barrel rifle and the others had shotguns; they all shot twice around but my husband didn't fall until the last shot was fired by my son Alex Hall; I watched the place where the body lay until the inquest was held but never examined it. The witness testified that O'Ferrall had told her that he and Colyer Hall had a previous difficulty about a sow and pigs that Hall had killed and also about a bale of cotton; also that O'Ferrall owned a navy six pistol and an old musket, but didn't carry them and she didn't consider him a dangerous man.   She also said that after the killing she knew that her son, Alex. Hall, was living at Brewton , Ala., until he died, but she had done nothing to secure his arrest, and knew that Andrew Hall lived in this county until his death, about two years ago.

She denied having told others that “if O'Ferrall's gun hadn't snapped at the time of the killing there would have been two or three dead Halls;” also that “she would hang Colyer Hall.”

An attempt was made by the counsel for the prisoner to show, by her own testimony, that the witness had been criminally intimate with O'Ferrall before they were married.   This she stoutly denied, and the questions were ruled out by the court.

C. W. Vickery, an aged man, who is also partially deaf, was the next witness.   Substantially his testimony was as follows:

I had known O'Ferrall 3 or 4 years before the killing and lived about three-quarters of a mile from him.   On the morning of the killing myself and wife, O'Ferrall and his wife, Jno . Beck and Clemson Hall were piling logs to make a cow pen. Suddenly a squad of men, who seemed to be partly drunk, came out of the bushes and began shooting; at the time I was listening to a quarrel between Clemson Hall and Alex Hall who had come up about a quarter of an hour before; I didn't see the men when they first came up but could have seen them if I had been looking that way; I know that Colyer Hall fired the first shot because it was a rifle and he was the only one of the partly that had a rifle. I was so badly scared that I started to “hit the grit,” but my old woman hollered to me “stand still! don't you run!”   It has been so long ago that I don't remember now just what I did, but know there was so much smoke from the guns that I couldn't tell at the time who was shooting. O'Ferrall was behind me and walked some distance before he fell; am satisfied that the last shot, fired by Alex Hall, who had a double barrel shot gun, killed him as I saw his body afterwards, and the only wounds were made by fifteen buckshot that entered the side and back that were towards Alex   Hall when he fired; saw no wound on the body that was made by a rifle ball; knew that O'Ferrall carried a navy six shooter and saw it that day lying on a stump where we were working, but did not see the old musket which O'Ferrall also owned; when O'Ferrall ran he was going away from the pistol; Mrs. O'Ferrall was closer to him than I was; didn't see anyone go up to him after he fell and cut his throat; am satisfied that he fell dead at the last shot fired by Alex Hall; I ran to “Uncle Bud” Williams' house two or three miles away, and then came back and was at the inquest.

The witness denied having told Wiley Hall or Mrs. Green , a few days ago that he saw O'Ferrall shooing with a musket when he was killed; did hear O'Ferrall say about two months before the killing, that “d---d if he wouldn't empty the musket into Colyer Hall.”

These are the two principal witnesses of the killing.   The hearing will probably last through the day and, perhaps, to-morrow, as it will require much time to examine all the witnesses that have been summoned to prove the good character of the prisoner.



©2004 John O'Farrell