PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903     P.  884

EDWIN HARRISON HALL.  The largest and oldest of North Windham’s industries is the cotton thread manufactory of E. H. Hall & Son, which is located near the bridge on the north side of the Natchaug river, in Windham county.  A wheel of 91-horse power gives the required motion to some 4,000 spindles, and about 3,000 pounds of yarn a week are produced.  Some forty people are employed, and dull times is something not found in the history of this enterprise.  The land on which the factory is located has been used for manufacturing purposes for more that a century.  Here paper was made in the early part of the nineteenth century, but that gave way to cotton making in 1831.  In 1860 the buildings were destroyed by fire, and the new structures were leased to Merrick Brothers for thread making.  In 1871 the property was bought by E. H. Hall & Son, both members of this firm having been associated with the Merrick industries.  The elder Hall died in 1884, and now his son, Edwin H., is the sole proprietor, though retaining the name of the old firm.

Nathan Hall, the grandfather of Edwin H. Hall, was born in June, 1781, and he died Dec. 6, 1841.  Philomela, his wife, was born May 30, 1785, and died April 13, 1838.  To them were born the following children:  Stephen F., born in 1804, died in 1879;  Origen B., born in 1806, died in 1888;  Philomela, born in 1808, died in 1890;  Gardiner, born in 1809, died in 1879;  Lurancy, born Nov. 12, 1811, died in 1887;  Eleazer B., born in 1813, died in 1850;  Norman B., born in 1815, died in 1891;  Deborah, born in 1816, died in 1883;  Lyman, born in 1818, died the following year;  Egbert, born in 1820, died in 1878;  Edwin H., Sr., the father of the subject of this article;  Nathan Lyman, born in 1823, died in Willington;  Lovisa, born in 1827, died the following year.  Nathan Hall is remembered in the city as a man of great physical power and steady endurance.  He lived for a time in the Yellow Row, belonging to the Windham Co., and afterward built the Moynaham block, on Main street.

Edwin H. Hall, Sr., was a life-long resident of the town of Windham, with the exception of a very brief period, and died at his residence on High street, Willimantic, Dec. 12, 1884.  He was born in Mansfield, Conn., May 26, 1821, and his father removed to Willimantic when he was a young boy.  He received his education in the public school, and in March, 1842, was married to Miss Sophia Prentice, a daughter of Major Henry Prentice, prominent in the State militia.  She died in April, 1899, at the age of eighty years.  Shortly after their marriage Mr. Hall removed to Vernon, but in less than a year came back to Willimantic to enter the employ of Whiting Hayden in the old Duck Mill, then standing on land now belonging to the Linen Company, between their spool shop, and Mill No. 1.  With Mr. Hayden his services were continuous until after the erection of the Smithville Company’s factories, where he ran the first hand mules set up in the new part, between 1850 and 1855.  About this time he built the home on High street, which was sold at auction by the borough in 1883.  This house was sold by him to his brother Egbert, on account of poor health, and Mr. Hall gave up his job at the Windham Company to his brother, spending the next year at Greenville, Uncasville, Danielsonville and Plainfield, and returning to Willimantic at the suggestion of Col. Jillson, became one of the overseers of the Duck Mill.  When the Linen Company’s Mill No. 1 was finished, in 1857, he became the overseer of the twisting room, with his brother Gardiner as superintendent, serving in this capacity some nine years.  During this period he bought of his employers the land on Pleasant Street, now owned by George Lincoln, and built the house now standing there.  In the fall of 1865 Mr. Hall formed a business co-partnership with Harry Wilson, of Wauregan, and bought of George W. Burnham a retail grocery business, being engaged in a very profitable trade near the spool shop.  Two years later he took the position of superintendent of the mill of Timothy Merrick at North Windham, removing immediately to that point with his family and five years later bought the property, formed a co-partnership with his son, Edwin H., Jr., and began business under the name of E. H. Hall & Son, making cotton yarn as long as he lived.  Many reverses attended this somewhat doubtful enterprise, but Mr. Hall made it a decided success. 

Edwin H. Hall, Sr., was a candidate on the Republican ticket for the office of representative, and was defeated by John L. Hunter, who had only a margin of two votes in his favor.  This was in 1878, and the following year Mr. Hall was chosen a commissioner of Windham county, a position he held until failing health compelled his retirement in January, 1884.  During 1883 and 1884 he was the committee of the First School District, and for many years was one of the trustees of the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association.  About the time of his return to Willimantic, during the pastorate of Rev. J. A. Robinson, he became a member of the Methodist Church.  In every position of life his zeal for the public welfare, and his fidelity to the duties of every trust, and his steadfast conviction of right commanded the admiration of his associates.  Twice in his life time, as he was wont to tell his friends, did he come near to a violent death:  Once in March, 1876, when the bridge at North Windham gave way before a flood, carrying himself and others with it.  Mr. Hall leaped from the whirling ruin, and clutching the branches of a little tree, clung till holding was no longer possible, when he was rescued by J. G. Davoll, as he was about to fall back into the whirling flood.  Again, in 1880, at Phelps’ Crossing between Willimantic and North Windham, a fast train tore off the upper half of both wheels on one side of his buggy, leaving him uninjured.  As the trainmen rushed to his assistance, he said, “Go on, I am all right.”  His perfect composure in both these trying experiences was marked, and doubtless saved his life.

 Of the children born to Edwin H. Hall, Sr., and his wife, Edwin Harrison is mentioned below;  Luthera, wife of Charles S. Lyman, lives at Holyoke, Mass.;  Alice A., is the wife of P. H. Foland, of Boston; and Ella M. and Francois P. are both deceased.

Edwin Harrison Hall, the subject of this writing, was born in Willimantic, Dec. 29, 1848, in the family home on High Street, and with the exception of five years passed in South Willington and in Holyoke, Mass., has spent his life in his native community.  His education was obtained from the public schools, and his special business training secured at Bryant & Stratton’s Business College in Hartford, in 1865.  For two years he was successfully engaged in mercantile business with his father, but preferring manufacturing, he entered the employ of the Willimantic Linen Co., remaining with that corporation several years.  His next engagement was with Gardiner Hall, Jr., & Co., of South Willington, which continued three years, and which he gave up to go with the Merrick Thread Company, of Holyoke, Mass.  After spending two years with them he entered into business relations with his father as narrated above, and since 1872 his life has been passed in North Windham.  His manufacturing career has been identified with the thread business and several of the thread mills of New England have been planned and started in one way or another by the Hall family and their connections.

Mr. Hall has always been a stanch Republican, and has creditably filled several local positions, having refused those of larger importance on account of the necessity of keeping in the closest possible touch with his large and growing business.  In 1884 when his father resigned from the board of county commissioners, on account of ill health, Mr. Hall was chosen as his successor, a position, with the exception of three years, he has held to the present time.  His quiet disposition, his administrative faculty, and his attention to detail, make him one of the most desirable men in the service of the county.

On Dec. 29, 1869, Edwin H. Hall was married to Maria A. Ayers, a native of Coventry, and a daughter of Wolcott H. and Lydia S. (Fargo) Ayers, the former of whom is deceased, but the latter is still living in South Coventry.  To this marriage was born one son, Louis, who married Queeny, a daughter of Anderson J. Greenslit, of Hampton, and is now the superintendent of his father’s factory at North Windham; he has grown up in the business, and knows it from start to finish.  There is also an adopted daughter, Nettie L., now at home.

Mr. Hall united with Eastern Star Lodge, No. 44, F. & A.M., at Willimantic, Nov. 5, 1879, and also belongs to the A.O.U.W., at Willimantic.  Framed and hanging in his office is a picture in which Mr. Hall takes much pride.  It is of nine young men who formed the Willimantic Base Ball Club of 1866.  Several of these young men have since become widely known, and four are now deceased.  From a newspaper clipping it appears that they won the most of the games they played, defeating Rockville, South Coventry, Danielson, and clubs of other towns.  In that year an experienced ball player came to work in Willimantic, and was given a position on the team.  The first curved pitcher Willimantic had known, he proved a valuable acquisition to the club, and a wonder to the spectators.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel


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