Death Of Wm. Hall.

VERMONT — Mr. Wm. Hall, of this place, one of the best known business men in this part of the state, was drowned in the Illinois river on Thursday afternoon, March 7th, at a point six miles below Beardstown. Mr. Hall left here in the morning of the same day for Beardstown and there hired a livery team and top buggy to convey him and a companion down the river six miles, where they crossed over in Brown county where Mr. Hall operated a saw mill and logging camp last year getting out railroad timber. He went to see about moving his saw mill before the spring floods set in, and to make some collections. On their return Mr. Hall and companion drove onto the ferry boat and were followed by one or two other teams. Hall’s team was within a few feet of the forward end of the boat, Mr. Hall and the gentleman remaining in the buggy. When the boat had got nearly halfway across, their team began to back. Mr. Hall or his comrade slapped the horses with the lines and spoke to them sharply telling them to step up, and just as they were moving up a heavy wave struck on the side of the boat and scared them, causing them to plunge off the boat, Hall and his companion going to the bottom of the river with the horses that never came up. Hall and the gentleman with him came up on the opposite side of where the team went down. Mr. Hall commenced to swim and was carried down the river by the current as if aiming to reach the shore. After going some distance, and when within fifty feet of the shore he sank and did not rise, undoubtedly being attacked with cramps as was proved when his body was recovered. The men on the boat were unable to render him any assistance, except to push some planks and poles out towards him hoping they would float near enough for him to catch onto and keep him afloat. There wasn’t any skiff attached to the boat, which was certainly a criminal negligence on the part of the ferry man. Mr. Hall’s companion was rescued.

The above are the facts as we learned them from some of the persons who went down the same evening from here to Beardstown and from there to the scene of the accident. Mr. Hall’s body was found a short distance below where he went down about 11 o’clock a.m. Thursday and was brought here the same evening in a special caboose attached to a freight train. A number of the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias as well as friends assisted in the search for this body. Mr. Hall was a member of both orders.

Mr. Hall was born in this county July 1846, and was a son of Mr. and Mrs. John Hall, old pioneers of this part of the county, and was raised on a farm three and one half miles southeast of town. He was united in marriage to Miss Rebecca Rankins in 1870, who with seven children and his aged mother survive him. Mr. Hall engaged in the timber business and was acknowledged as one of the best posted in that particular line in the state. For the past fifteen years he has furnished the greater part of the piling, ties and bridge timbers used on the “Q” lines in this state and portions of Iowa, keeping constantly about forty men and a number of teams employed in the business. The men who have been in his employ are all his personal friends, as he was liberal and watched after their interest with the same zeal as he did his own. No man has done more for the people of Vermont, especially the laboring class, and no man would have been so greatly missed. Having been a schoolmate of Mr. Hall and raised on adjoining farms and acquainted with him all his life, we can truthfully say he was always generous to a fault and ready at all times to discommode himself to accommodate or help his friends and neighbors. He was much attached to his family and devoted to his aged mother, who has made her home with him since the death of his father some years ago. His business causing him to be on the road much of the time, his home coming was always looked forward to by his wife, children and his mother with pleasure, and seldom did he return without bringing them some token of his love. His devotion to his wife, children and mother are worthy of the greatest praise and an example that others would do well to imitate. He was sociable with every one; it was his nature. Selfishness had no place in his breast, and he came as near following the golden rule — “do unto others as you would wish to have them do to you” — as it was possible for a mortal to do, and it is no wonder that he was loved and respected by all who knew him. As a citizen of the town he was progressive, taking an active interest in her advancement. The funeral occured from his late home on Main street on Friday afternoon. The Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows had charge of the funeral ceremonies, and turned out in a body. There was a number of the orders as well as friends from neighboring towns in attendance. The funeral procession was the largest ever seen in Vermont; nearly 600 persons followed the remains into the cemetery, as was ascertained by actual count; and then there were a large number at the services at his home who did not go to the cemetery. Such a concourse of sympathizing friends is a more fitting tribute to his worth and the love and esteem of his fellow men than any eulogy we might write. The grief-stricken family have the sympathy of every citizen in town, and all feel that they have lost a dear friend in the death of one whose life was devoted to the good of his family and mankind.


Published in the Astoria Argus on 3/15/1894

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