Before the town was laid out in the fall of 1883 by C. E. Perkins, the area was just an unfenced corn field surrounded by prairie. The original site was located by the Town Lot Company of the Chicago, Burlington and Kansas City Railroad. History books describe the location as “a fine site for a town” in the “high rolling prairie of Hurricane Township”.
Clione, a community one mile east of the site, realized the C B & KC Railroad would pass them. The residents moved their smaller buildings on sleds, tore down the larger ones, and began setting the buildings in various places on the site of the new town. When Thomas E. Jeffries moved to Hale in 1884, only one other family was living in Hale.
The town was named Hale City in honor of Judge John B Hale of Carrollton, Missouri, and who later served in Congress. On March 4, 1884, a group of residents went before the County Court and Hale City was incorporated. The first addition platted by Town Land Company was in April 18, 1884 with many more additions made during that first year.
In its first issue dated April 24, 1884, the newspaper, The Hale City Times, announced a post office under the name of Hale was established (April 8, 1884) with Will Knickerbocker assigned as postmaster.
The town grew rapidly that first year—new churches were built, residences, and school. The first businesses were mainly lumber yards (Badger Lumber Company began just a few months after Mr. Jeffries’ arrival in Hale), restaurants, and furniture store. More businesses and inhabitants quickly followed. Prices for lots ranged from $60-$200. By 1896, Hale boasted of having two banks, two hotels, five physicians, two lawyers, a dentist, opera house, three restaurants, three jewelry stores, real estate office, four dry goods stores, four blacksmith shops, three livery barns, and three implement establishments as part of 77 businesses and professional services found in Hale for its 1,000 residents.
Not only was Hale known for his stock yards and excellent railway shipping advantages, but records show as far back as September 1899 until World War II, Hale was drawing crowds from miles around for its two day fair featuring all sorts of contests, exhibits, and entertainment for the entire family. Many participants said it was better than the state fair!
Hale was noted in a 1906 publication as being a very clean town with plenty of shade trees, well kept lawns and beautiful residences in the best agricultural area in the state. The people were described as “clean” with “good morals”--“an ideal place in which to live” with one of the best schools around, numerous clubs and organizations to join, a beautiful park, and churches representing five different denominations.
Through the years, Hale has maintained the attitude of keeping things neat, clean, and proper. The ideals of our founding fathers continue as we promote beautification of our properties and town, showing pride in our excellent school, holding celebrations in the park, and providing a place to raise families in a moral and Christian lifestyle through the various organizations and civic clubs which continue to better our town and its residents. We still strive to be “the best little city” as our founders envisioned.