Hall, Richard Moore (1851–1917)

By: Herbert H. Lang

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1995

Richard Moore Hall, lawyer, public servant, and rancher, was born in Iredell County, North Carolina, on November 17, 1851, the son of Dr. James King and Frances Mebane (Rankin) Hall and the brother of Jesse Leigh Hall. After studying civil engineering at New Garden, North Carolina, he moved to Sherman, Texas, in 1872 and served as county surveyor of Grayson County from 1875 until 1877. He married Betty Hughes of Jefferson County in 1880 and soon thereafter moved to La Salle County, where he assisted two of his brothers in operating the Dull-Hall Ranch near Cotulla.

By 1884 Hall had sold out his share of the ranch and moved to Florence in Williamson County. He was elected commissioner of the General Land Office in 1887 and held that office until 1891. While serving as commissioner he appointed a family friend, William Sydney Porter, as a clerk in the land office. Porter later achieved fame as the short story writer O. Henry, and one of his earliest stories, "Georgia's Ruling," drew a fictional portrait of Hall.

Hall opposed the "Sidings and Switches" issue raised against the railroads by Attorney General James S. Hogg. Though Hall believed that the policy of granting public lands to the railroads was "shortsighted and unwise," he appears to have disagreed with Hogg's attempts to recover granted lands in the courts, and their policy disagreements turned to political rivalry in 1890. Hall was one of many candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor that year. He advocated a relatively weak Railroad Commission and the increased use of proceeds from the sale of public lands to benefit education in West Texas counties. He had withdrawn from the race by the time the convention met in San Antonio in August, and he seems to have left public life after 1890.

That year he moved to Houston, where he was a lawyer and the president of a railway company, the Houston, Brazos and Western, in 1900. The railroad was projected but never built. Hall died in Houston on November 19, 1917, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, and a son.

Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). James M. Day and Ann B. Dunlap, comps., "Map Collection of the Texas State Archives, 1888–1900," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 66 (October 1962). Garry Mauro, Land Commissioners of Texas (Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1986). Trueman E. O'Quinn and Jenny Lind Porter, Time to Write: How William Sidney Porter Became O. Henry (Austin: Eakin Press, 1986).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Herbert H. Lang, “Hall, Richard Moore,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 09, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hall-richard-moore.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995