It seems as if the possession of that thing known as "business
ability" fits a man for a successful career in almost any line of work. Henry R.
Hall, the prominent lumberman and banker of Sandoval, Illinois, is generously
endowed with this gift, and he has been in enough businesses for a half dozen
men, winning some degree of success from each attempt, ranging in dignity from
that of a shoemaker to that of a bank president. Perhaps a large measure of his
success came to him through hard work, for he was early left fatherless, with
the support of his mother and sister devolving upon him, and he early learned
the meaning of toil. His early years were one constant struggle, he had little
time for recreation of any sort, for during the time when he might have been
free from work he was not free from worry. He had the problem of the care of two
women, mother and sister, when the funds at his disposal were not much more than
enough for one. In some way though he managed to save a little money, and as
soon as he had this small capital to build on he began to rise. The story of his
life is one of persevering effort and a determination to conquer no matter what
Henry R. Hall was born in Monroe county, Georgia, on the 1st of May, 1842. His parents were of Northern and Southern birth, his father being Charles Hall and claiming Vermont for his birthplace. His mother was Mary (Swift) Hall, and she was a native of South Carolina. During the thirties they were married in Forsyth, Monroe county, Georgia, where they lived until 1851. From 1851 to 1856 they made their home in Dalton, Georgia, at the end of this time removing to Tennessee. Here the father died in October, 1856, and the widow, finding herself alone and among strangers, took her little family back to Dalton. Charles Hall was a shoemaker by trade, and had never been able to do more than to keep his family in comfortable circumstances. Although they had always been poor, affairs were now blacker than ever, but in 1857 they came to Marion county, Illinois, and here young Henry secured work and life began to take on a brighter hue. Henry Hall's paternal grandfather was a native of Vermont, and had come west in 1818, settling in Portage county, Ohio. Here he became a farmer, and continued in that occupation until his death. The maternal grandfather of Henry Hall was likewise a farmer. He was born in South Carolina and moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he settled on a farm near the now city. Here he spent the remainder of his life.
With such an ancestry it is not surprising that young Henry, thrown upon his own resources, should turn instinctively to farming. His education had been obtained in the common schools of Georgia and Tennessee, arid since he was only fourteen years old when his father died he had not had the opportunity to learn a trade, so he turned to farming. He worked on a farm for five years, and then he learned the shoemaker's trade. He worked at this for two years, after serving three years as an apprentice, and with the aid of his mother and sister succeeded in scraping together enough to enter the business field in a modest way. At Kinmundy, Illinois, where he then lived, he engaged in the grocery business, gradually working up a good patronage. As his business grew his popularity and good reputation kept pace with it, and in 1872 the people showed their confidence in him by electing him sheriff of Marion county. He served in this capacity for two terms, and then served two terms as circuit clerk. He lived at this time in the county seat, Salem, and he remained here until 1886, when he came to Sandoval to manage a coal mine near-by. While living in Salem he had been elected mayor of the town, and was one of its most prominent citizens.
He was connected with the coal mining business in Sandoval until 1897, and then he sold out and went into the lumber business. This business has become one of the largest enterprises in Marion county, and it is all due to the force of character and good business methods of the owner. Since entering this field he has branched out into other parts of the county. He now has a lumber yard at Vernon and one at Junction City. All of these various branches are under one firm name, H. R. Hall and Company. Recognition of his abilities as a financier and as a man with a good head for the management of large enterprises came to him with his election to the presidency of the First National Bank of Sandoval. He also holds the same relation to the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Vernon, Illinois. In the political world he has always been active, giving his allegiance to the Democratic party. Although interested in national politics, he believes in keeping one's own "back yard clean," consequently gives all the time that he has to spare for politics in endeavoring to better local conditions. He has been mayor of Sandoval, and during his term of office much was done towards improving civic conditions.
Mr. Hall was married on the 2nd of October, 1865, to Eliza J. Wolfe, a daughter of Joshua and Martha Wolfe. The latter was born in Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Hall was born in Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Hall have five children, all of whom are married. Carrie married Charles D. Merritt; Nellie is the wife of D. E. Tracy; May married Adis Bryan, a cousin of W. J. Bryan; Martha became the wife of Robert Bellemy; and Charles W. Hall married Elizabeth Edwards, of Sandoval. Charles W. Hall was educated in Eureka College, where he spent three years, later attending Bryant and Stratton's Business College in St. Louis, Missouri. He is now in business with his father, and promises to grow into a man of as fine a character and as good business sense as his father. He is the father of two girls and one boy, Henry R. Hall, Jr.
Extracted 07 Nov 2017 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1319-1320.