James ‘Jimmy’ Hale is a lifelong resident of Cabell County. He attended Barnett Nursery School and was one of the first black students to attend Simms Elementary School, before going on to complete Lincoln Junior High School and to graduate from Huntington High School. He went on to WV State College where he completed a bachelor’s degree in business. He worked for United Fuel Gas Co. at Union Carbide, the Ashland Refinery in Kentucky, and Texaco in California. He came back to Huntington and began working as a signalman for CSX and at the time of his retirement in 2008 he was Manager of Train Control for CSX.
He has served this community in many capacities – Mentor, Author, Historian and Lecturer. He worked diligently for the preservation of the Polley Children’s Emancipation and ending the longest running fugitive slave case, which lasted 162 years. In his historical capacity, Jimmy researched the history of the Macedonia Church in Burlington, OH and the many churches that have grown from this organization. He received the 2022 Hero of History from the State of WV’s Historic Society for teaching children their origins in WV History. He is the author of The Long Road to Freedom: The Story of the Enslaved Polley Children and is working on a second edition and has presented lectures on his book and this topic.
Jimmy has been very active in the community working with the Boys Club of Huntington and is a Past President of both Little League 4 and the Lincoln-Oley Youth Football League. He is affiliated with the Mattie Carroll House and is a Board Member of the Guyandotte Civil War Days. James is a member of Positive Force, Inc. and MEGA, Inc.
Jimmy and several of his friends began biking every day through the city and in the Tri-State area- weather does not deter these dedicated cyclists. He still has things he would like to do – visit Mt Rushmore, Maine, Alaska, Washington State and all of the North Atlantic States and knowing Jimmy- he will!