James L. Hale

JAMES L. HALE resides in Huntington, WV. Mr. Hale will be speaking on the story of the Polley Family. The struggle to secure the return of their eight children kidnapped in 1850 then sold into bondage in Kentucky and Virginia. The story of the oldest, longest running fugitive slave case in United States history should be beneficial to guests at the Emancipation Celebration. The historic value of this family’s story ties into the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Mr. Hale is the 2nd great grandson of Harrison Polley, one of the kidnapped children. James is a retired employee of CSX Transportation. He is also a student of Lincoln, the Civil War, and slavery. He is the Polley Family genealogist and family verifier. James is the author of the book, “The Long Road to Freedom: The Story of the Enslaved Polley Children”. His research led to the litigation ending what is known as the Oldest, Longest Running Fugitive Slave Case in United States history of 162 years.

The following is an excerpt from July 22, 2012 edition of The Herald-Dispatch:
A local family found vindication for its ancestors Friday in Wayne County Circuit Court, connecting two generations born 150 years apart.
Huntington resident Jim Hale and more than a dozen relatives celebrated the news that his great-great-grandfather, Harrison Polley, and three siblings, were given a decree of freedom from slavery.
Circuit Court Judge Darrell Pratt issued the decree after nearly two hours of depositions dug up from the 1850s and heard in Cabell County (Va.) and Wayne County (Va.) court. He called it justice for the Polley family and an important day for the region in terms of the local history of slavery.
"It's a relief, a burden off my heart," Hale said. "It's important for our family history to know our family was a free family and not slaves."