Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


WILLIAM ALEXANDER HALL. Human life is like the waves of the sea; they flash a few brief moments in the sunlight, marvels of power and beauty, and then are dashed upon the remorseless shores of death and disappear forever. As the mighty deep has rolled for ages past and chanted its sublime requiem, and will continue to roll during the coming ages, until time shall be no more, so will the waves of human life follow each other in countless succession until they mingle at last with the billows of eternity's boundless sea. The passing of any human life, however humble and unknown, is sure to give rise to a pang of anguish to some heart, but when the "fell destroyer" knocks at the door of the useful, and removes from earthly scenes the man of influence and the benefactor of his kind, it not only means bereavement to kindred and friends, but a public calamity as well. In the largest and best sense of the term, the late William Alexander Hall was distinctively one of the noted men of his day an generation in Greene county, Missouri, and as such his life record is entitled to a conspicuous life in the annals of Springfield and vicinity. As a citizen he was public-spirited and enterprising to an unwanted degree; as a friend and neighbor, he combined the qualities of head and heart that won confidence and commanded respect; as a man of affairs, who had a comprehensive grasp upon the philosophy of business, he ranked for years among our most progressive commercial exponents. He was one of the prominent Masons of the state, and he brought honor and dignity to the public positions he filled with such distinguished success.

Mr. Hall was born in Nashville, Tennessee, November 27, 1834. He was a son of John and, Elizabeth Hall, both natives of Scotland, from which country they emigrated to America when young and located in Pennsylvania, and were married in the city of Philadelphia. They removed to Tennessee in the year 1828, where they lived ten years, thence moved to Missouri in 1838, settling in St. Louis, where the father established the first water-works of that city, and where his death occurred in 1862. In 1848 the mother of our subject, together with her youngest child, perished in a steamboat disaster on the Alabama river. William A. Hall was about fifteen years old at the time of his mother's death, and he then went to live with his sister, Mrs. Emily Jane Oliver, wife of Judge Mordecai Oliver, of Richmond, Missouri. While living in Richmond he supplemented the public school education acquired in St. Louis with an academic training under the tutelage of Prof. A. Coke Redman, completing the course of study.

Mr. Hall began his business career by opening a drug store in Richmond, Ray county, removing to Liberty, Clay county, this state, in 1856, where he continued in the same line of business for fourteen years. He then accepted the position of cashier in the Commercial Bank, of Liberty, but owing to failing health he was compelled to resign. In 1872 he went to Mexico, Missouri, and engaged in the drug business, and a year later left Audrain county for Springfield, where he and John R. Ferguson opened a drug store, which, under his management, assumed so large a volume he was induced to discontinue the retail and devote his energies to building up an exclusive wholesale business. The business of this widely known house flourished and expanded and an extensive trade was carried on all over the Southwest. It was for some time known as the Hall-Pipkin Drug Company, later as the Hall Drug Company, our subject having acquired the interests of his partner, John D. Pipkin, and at the time of his death was president and general manager.

Mr. Hall was married in Liberty, Missouri, in 1855, to Florence Ringo, Rev. Moses E. Lord, a noted divine of the Christian church, performing the ceremony. Mrs. Hall was a daughter of Samuel Ringo, a pioneer merchant of Liberty. To this union six sons and two daughters were born, five of whom are still living, namely: J. William, Samuel, A., Mrs. J. D. Pipkin, Richard Lee and Mrs. Florence McLaughlin. The mother of these children passed away on May 10, 1901. Both parents were active members of the Christian church during the major portion of their lives. Florence Hall married Charles McLaughlin, a native of Portland, Maine, where he was reared and partly educated, subsequently attending a military school, and he engaged in newspaper work for some time in his native city, then removed to Springfield, Missouri, where he became secretary of the water company. His death occurred a number of years ago. To Charles and Florence (Hall) McLaughlin one child was born, Florence, who is now a student in Drury College. Mr. McLaughlin's father, Charles McLaughlin, Sr., was a prominent citizen of Portland, Maine, where he was a successful business man, helped improve the city, and was elected representative to the Legislature of Maine in 1878, and in 1884 was elected to the State Senate. At the time of his death, many years ago, he was first vice-president of the Board of Trade of his city, a director in a bank and president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Politically, Mr. Hall was a Democrat, having cast his first vote in the interests of that party, to which he adhered the rest of his life. Throughout his career, despite the distractions of business, he took an active interest in civic affairs. He was twice elected mayor of Springfield, his first term of office beginning in 1875. He again was mayor in 1897. He gave the city his best service and his administrations were eminently satisfactory to all concerned. He did much toward the general upbuilding and welfare of the city, whose interests he ever had very much at heart.

From the date of his association with Masonry, Mr. Hall was intensely interested in the benevolent motives of the order and took great pride in the honors conferred upon him. His Masonic career commenced in Liberty Lodge No. 31, where he was made a Master Mason in 1857. He served as Master of the same in the years 1868 and 1869. He was exalted to the Royal Arch degree on May 10, 1860, and in Liberty chapter No. 3 he served as high priest in 1869, and again in 1871. He received the degree of Cryptic Masonry in Zabud Council No. 25 at Springfield in 1904. He was created a Knight Templar in Liberty Commandery No. 6, Knights Templars, November 17, 1865. On his removal to Mexico he affiliated with Hebron lodge, of that place, and assisted in forming Crusade Commandery No. 23. In 1873, after his removal to Springfield, he affiliated with United Lodge No. 5, Springfield Chapter No. 15, and St. John's Commandery No. 20, Knights Templars. He served United lodge as master in 1875, 1878, 1883 and 1884. He served Springfield chapter as high priest in 1876, and again in 1890. He received the order of high priesthood in 1900. He served St. John's commandery as commander in 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887 and 1888. In 1896 he was appointed grand warder of the Grand Commandery, Knights Templars, of Missouri, and successively filled the several stations, being elected grand commander in 1904. In this latter eminent position the order credits him with having shown good judgment, zeal and activity, rounding out an administration that will go into history as beneficial to the order he loved.

Personally, Mr. Hall was a gentleman of commanding presence, and his genial, social qualities and strict business rectitude rendered him popular as a man and citizen.

The death of Mr. Hall, at the advanced age of seventy-five years, was sudden and unexpected, occurring at the commodious Hall residence on North Main street, on Friday morning, September 25, 1909. The impressive funeral services were in charge of St. John's commandery, Knights Templars, and were held in St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal church, South. The eulogy was delivered by Rev. F. L. Moffett, pastor of the South Street Christian church, of which Mr. Hall was a member. The remains were escorted to the church and to the Maple Park cemetery by the Hobart Military band and by St. John's commandery, Knights Templars, and the united lodges. John Nixon, of St. Louis, eminent grand generalissimo; William H. Glancey, of St. Louis, eminent grand standard bearer; John Gilles, past grand commander, of St. Louis; W. Y. Beam, grand instructor, St. Louis; A. N. Martin, grand warder, Lebanon; John Wingsweimer, Will Diffenderffer, Senator J. W. Farris, past commanders, and John Diffenderffer, all of Lebanon, and other high Masonic officials, attended the services. The pallbearers were Jobe Newton, Col. H. W. Diggins, Dr. D. B. Farnsworth, Paul O'Day, M. V. Ausherman, George Arnold, J. M. Heckenlively and W. T. Bigbee, all past commanders of St. John's commandery, Knights Templars.

Among the many complimentary and eulogistic newspaper articles that appeared in the press from time to time in regard to Mr. Hall, the biographer will here reproduce but one, which he deems sufficient to show the high standing of our subject as a man of affairs and citizen, the article having appeared editorially in the Sptingfield Leader, under the caption of "Springfield's Popular Mayor." It follows "In this day and time when money is regarded as the summium bonum that municipality whose affairs are looked after by clean, honest, conscientious men is, indeed, fortunate. Of course, all men have weaknesses and shortcomings, and your correspondent is not prepared to say that he has found a man or body of men who are by any means faultless, but when we state that the city of Springfield has one of the best mayors she ever had, and that her governmental affairs are being conducted in an honorable and straightforward manner, we expect to be taken with all seriousness.

"The Hon. William A. Hall is certainly the right man in the right place, for none to whom we have spoken, and we have conversed with many on the subject, have had anything to say in regard to him and his methods except words of praise and commendation and approval.

"Mr. Hall is a representative man of affairs, having been identified with, the business interests of this section for a number of years. He is interested in the drug business, of which business he is a master, and has done his share in building up the city and making it one of the most substantial towns in this section of the country.

"In view of these facts his nomination for mayor by the Democrats and his election by the people were certainly manifestations of good judgment. Since his inauguration there has not been a mistake made in conducting the affairs of the city; no, not even, as far as we can learn an indiscretion. The city has been kept, lives and property have been adequately protected, and prosperity has come—let it be hoped, to stay.

"We congratulate the people of Springfield upon their good judgment in selecting such a mayor, and at Mr. Hall's request will say that he is not a candidate for re-election, which is certainly a matter for regret."

[1417-1421]


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