Days Gone By - stories from the past

The mystery of Hal’s Lake – Clarke County, Alabama – how it got it’s name

There has been a mystery how Hal’s Lake in Clarke County got its name.

The mystery of Hal’s Lake

Clarke County, Alabama

Believed to be written by

WPA Alabama writer

Mary A. Poole


During the 1930s Great Depression era, many writers were employed to interview people around the United States, so their experiences and life history could be recorded The program was named the U.S. Work Projects Administration, Federal Writers’ Project and it gave employment to historians, teachers, writers, librarians, and other white-collar workers. This is an unedited transcribed story by one of these writers.

One of the more realistic tales of slavery folklore in Alabama concerns Hal’s Lake. Fifty miles from Mobile, in the forks of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers is a beautiful clear lake. After the name of a negro slave, the picturesque body of water in its green setting among the cypress and live oak trees of south Alabama is called Hal’s Lake.

Mobile Delta, which consists of approximately 20,323 acres of water just north of Mobile Bay, Alabama 2010 by Carol Highsmith (Library of Congress)

Charlie Chan: Five Complete Novels – excellent mysteries

Discovered the lake while on his flight for liberty

Hal, a fugitive slave from a plantation in Mississippi, discovered the lake while on his flight to liberty. In the daytime, Hal hid himself in the thick foliage surrounding the banks of the lake. At night he went out on expeditions to steal food. On these food-stealing expeditions, Hal made contact with other slaves and induced them to join him at the lake.

It was the day of “underground railroads.” The disappearance of a slave was not an uncommon thing and often was not investigated very thoroughly. Hal’s colony grew. Over all the group of negroes, Hal ruled as a sovereign. But Hal quarreled with an irritable Negro one day; he forced the latter to leave the colony.

Mobile Delta, which consists of approximately 20,323 acres of water just north of Mobile Bay, Alabama 2010 by Carol Highsmith (Library of Congress)

Posse found the colony

It was a mistake for Hal. In vengeance, the surly negro went back to his old master and gave him details of the colony beside the lake. A posse of slave owners quickly formed. Guided by the negro who had quarreled with Hal, the posse easily found the colony.

The negroes around the lake offered little resistance. Hal was sent back to Mississippi. But the lake – still clear and sparkling, still fringed by those cypress and live oaks that sheltered the fugitive slaves – is known as Hal’s Lake today.

Note: Another version states that Hal was killed when the posse attacked.


See best-selling books by Donna R Causey

Faith and Courage: 2nd edition -A Novel of Colonial America Inspired by real people and actual events, the family saga of colonial America continues with Ambrose Dixon’s family. Faith and Courage presents the religious persecution of Quakers in Pre-Revolutionary War days of America intertwined with a love story.


About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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