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August 05, 2020

J. Dan Hull, Jr. (March 11, 1900 - October 13, 1987)


J. Dan Hull, II, 1933. Above is his Yale Ph.D picture. Class act. American dream overachiever and gentlemen's gentlemen. Authentic and honest--and never went out of his way to trumpet either trait. My Grandpop.

The following is my rough working sketch of his life. Bear with me.

Grandpop was the first in the Virginia-Missouri Hull family line to go to college. His dad, self-educated John Hull, had made his first stake as a laborer building railroads out West and ended up owning a drug store and a bank in Mountain Grove, Missouri. Grandpop, who fought with his own dad a lot (as I did with mine), entered University of Missouri at 16 years old and and got his Masters degree from University of Chicago at age 20. Born in Mountain Grove, Missouri, he ended his career as a player in the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, author (including co-authoring the standard text for many years on secondary American education), Renaissance man and member of the Cosmos Club, the merit-based club for D.C.'s intellectual and academic elite.

In America, Grandpop’s family of Holls/Hulls were relative newcomers compared to my Mom's side of the family, who got to Massachusetts in 1634. In 1750, his great-great-great grandfather came to fhe colonies as a teen with his own father from Germany. The trip was from Rotterdam to Philadelphia on a ship called “The Brothers.” They eventually moved Middlebrook, Virginia. Three generations later, in 1858, just before the Civil War, another earlier Dan Hull, a miller and farmer (‘Old Dan Hull’), moved his large family from Virginia to Missouri in a what sounds like an ingenious "tricked-out" family carriage reputedly-handy old Dan had built especially for the trip. Old Dan drove the carriage. A wagon hitched to a four-horse team driven by a Bill Argenbright hauled the family goods. The journey to Missouri took two months. The oldest Bill Hull (age 21)--my great-great grandfather--served on horseback as scout and advance man for supplies and campsites. Old Dan's other two sons, also on saddle horse, helped guide the trip. Just before making the trip, the family freed the slaves (at least 3) they had. They rested once a week to do washing, rest and attend church if possible. His wife, who hopefully I'll write about some other time, was a devout Lutheran, as were all the 108 years of German-descended kin they were leaving back in Middlebrook, Virginia.

Two generations later, Grandpop was born in 1900, 50 years after that westward trip led by his grandfather Bill. Given his roots and his low-key, always-dignified personality, his career and unpretentious leap into elite American circles is amazing. Educator. Diplomat. World Traveler. Teacher. Manager. Executive. Musical. Great card player. Sportsman. Fisherman. He had taste, too. Aggressive and strong but often quiet--sometimes too quiet, with a tinge of melancholy that moved me. Like me, not completely knowable. Well-read and well-traveled. Effortlessly well-dressed at all times. (Slim but well-built, he looked more elegant in T-shirt than most men do in a tux.) He hung out with John Kenneth Galbraith and Elliot Richardson. Not bad for an Ozarks mountain boy. And great with women He raised 3 sisters after his young mother, Nancy Susan McQuitty--who he adored--died in 1917 on Christmas Eve, when he was always strangely quiet. He at 87 on October 13, 1987

Both his Dad JDH I and his granddad Bill (a confederate soldier) lived even longer lives, dying in 1929 and 1953. His wife--and my pistol of a grandmother, Alene Oliver Hull--died in their house in Springfield, MO at 101. Grandpop taught me a lot. I miss him a lot. If it were not for 3 Missourians--Pat Bevier and Mary Helen Allen, my Dad's first cousins, and my marvelous new-found cousin, Super-Mom and Walmart exec Kristi Towe--I would have had a very hard time putting all this together accurately over the past few years. (Well, I may never have; it's time-consuming and I was always doing it half-assed and guessing based on things Grandpop told me, the Internet and 3 "mysterious" not-so-mysterious wills dating back to the 1700s my Dad John Hull gave me.) But 99.5% of the German Hulls is knowable--just not as well-kept as the history of my Mom's family (Holden) who've been keeping accurate records through the Colonial Dames organizations for several generations. Thanks for the work, you 3.

Posted by JD Hull at August 5, 2020 12:39 PM


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