Mercer County Bridge named for George M. Hall


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A Mercer County bridge was formally named Wednesday in honor of a man who risked his life more than 160 years ago to save courthouse records detailing much of the region's history.

A bridge on Willowbrook Road now has signs which let motorists know that it is the George M. Hall Memorial Bridge.

Hall, who was then a slave, saved the Mercer County Courthouse's records on May 1, 1862, when much of Princeton was burned during the Civil War. Wednesday was the 162nd anniversary of Hall's act of heroism.

Mercer County Commission President Bill Archer attended the dedication along with Lois Miller, president of the Mercer County Historical Society, retired teacher Peggy Johnson, who learned about Hall while researching information for the 2018 Juneteenth celebration and Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer. The American Legion Post 54 posted colors for the ceremony and performed "Taps."

"It was a nice ceremony," Archer said.

Hall was born into slavery in Dublin, Va. in 1843. He was around 19 years old when he entered the burning courthouse and saved the records in the county clerk's office, according to a resolution passed in June 2018 by the Mercer County Commission.

A prominent Princeton resident, Harrison W. Straley, who had enlisted in the Confederate Army but was later deemed too unhealthy for active duty, recalled Hall's actions in his book "Memoirs of Old Princeton."

"He was burned, lacerated and for many weeks could not speak above a whisper, but an ungrateful County Court not only failed to remunerate him, but did not even thank him for his services to the county," Straley wrote in his book.

Hall became a shoemaker after the Civil War and along with his wife, Melinda (Henderson) Hall, raised their family in Mercer County, according to county records that Johnson discovered while doing her research.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

Contact Greg Jordan at