CHARLES ROSWELL HALL
AMONG the young men of Albany, who, by a steady and unfailing devotion to the principles of professional and official duty, deserve a just recognition for representative character, is Charles R. Hall, deputy superintendent of the banking department of the state of New York. He is another example of many of those descendants of Connecticut pioneers who have helped so much to develop the resources and advance the civilization and prosperity of this country. He was born on the 17th of September, 1853, in the town of Guilford, Chenango county, N. Y., where his father, John P. Hall, owned and cultivated a farm, and where he lived for many years and until his death in 1875.
This branch of the Hall family originally came from England in the early part of the seventeenth century, and settled in Connecticut, where they endured with heroic spirits the privations and trials incident to other pioneers in the wilderness of the new world, surrounded by roving tribes of Indians and often exposed to their murderous attack.
The maiden name of the mother of Charles R. Hall was Sarah Hart Purdy. She was a descendant of the noted Mead family, who were also early settlers about Greenwich, Conn., and whose genealogy has been given to the public in an interesting work. Mrs. Hall is still living to receive the affectionate care of her son and to witness his well-deserved success in life, a useful, active and intelligent member of society.
Young Hall was brought up under the paternal roof in habits of industry, simplicity and honest labor, working on the old farm to the full extent of his youthful physical powers. He was first sent to the district school of his neighborhood, and afterward attended the village school of Guilford. That he was a diligent, apt and persevering student may be seen from the fact that we find him, at the age of seventeen, successfully teaching the common school in his own district. On the close of his first school term he went to Brockport, N. Y., in the fall of 1870, where he commenced a course of study at the normal school at that place. During the vacations of the institution he taught common schools at various places in Monroe county, in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. His ardent temperament and deep love of knowledge impelled him onward in the pursuit of a generous education and in the preparation for a profession for which he had early tastes and aspirations, and that was the law. In the autumn of 1874 he took up his study in the office of Judge Alberto T. Roraback, of Canaan, Conn., where he was then teaching school. Returning home the following summer he filed his certificate of clerkship and entered the law office of Horace Packer, at Oxford, N. Y., as a student; but after pursuing his legal studies for several months he was obliged to relinquish them temporarily on account of an affection of the eyes, brought on, doubtless, by too intense application to his books. In the meantime not contented to be idle, he continued teaching school in different places until 1878, when, on recovering from his ocular trouble, he again resumed the study of the law with Hon. A. F. Gladding, of Norwich, N. Y., under the direct supervision of the present Chief Judge Follett, to whose extensive library he had access, and to whom he is largely indebted for much of his legal training. He continued in the office of Mr. Gladding till the fall of 1880, when he was admitted to the bar at Saratoga Springs at the general term of the Supreme Court, held in September, and presided over by Justices Learned, Bockes and Westbrook. The Hon. Isaac H. Maynard was one of the examining committee on that occasion, between whom and Mr. Hall there has ever since existed a close personal friendship.
Immediately after receiving his legal diploma Mr. Hall began practice at Norwich, and after a year was elected justice of the peace in the village, carrying on at the same time his professional duties with marked ability and success. In January, 1884, he accepted an appointment under Attorney-General O’Brien, being given the exclusive charge of the land department, and also assisting in the briefing and trial of cases before the board of claims. His knowledge of the law governing state lands, whether under or out of water gained at this time, is perhaps second to no young lawyer in the state. He remained with Mr O’Brien till the fall of 1886, when on the appointment of Mr. Benedict as public printer, he accepted an invitation from Comptroller Chapin to succeed Mr. Benedict as deputy comptroller. Although perhaps the youngest man to hold so important a position in this state, he met the expectations of partial friends; the work of that department was carefully and intelligently kept in hand; the lists of rejected taxes were in the hands of the several county treasurers on the 1st day of September as required by statute, for the first and only time in a quarter of a century, and his painstaking examination of vouchers discovered errors that saved to the state upwards of $25,000 – with never an overpayment nor an error.
Gracefully and truly did the Albany Journal speak of the merits of Mr. Hall when about to enter upon his new office:
” The appointment of Mr. Charles R. Hall as deputy comptroller is one heartily to be praised. Mr. Hall came to Albany less than three years ago as clerk in the office of Attorney-General O’Brien. His good qualities of head and heart have won him during that time the respect of all those who have relations with the state departments and the entire confidence of the state officers. Mr. Hall is a democrat, but the interests of the state lose nothing by the appointment of men of his ability and character to office. The people of the state always have reason to rejoice at the appointment of such young men to public position.”
Mr. Hall filled the position of deputy comptroller till the close of Mr. Chapin’s term, when he retired, having performed the duties of his office in an efficient and entirely satisfactory manner. Shortly after this he formed a partnership with Frederick E. Wadhams, a rising young Albany lawyer, for the general practice of law, under the firm name of Wadhams & Hall. This firm still exists and enjoys a fair share of public patronage. Its office is in the Tweddle building.
On the 16th of April, 1889, Mr. Hall was appointed by Superintendent Willis S. Paine, to his present position, deputy superintendent of the banking department of the state of New York, the duties of which he has performed with great energy and fidelity.
Upon the resignation of Mr. Paine, October 1st of that year, Mr. Hall became acting superintendent, and won many-commendations for his satisfactory conduct of the department in all its branches, to the time of the appointment of Superintendent Preston on December 26th.
Mr. Hall’s early tastes were also for forensic declamation, in which field he has won several literary prizes. He has studied with care and interest the best writings of the ereat masters of statesmanship and oratory, placing them before him as the most graceful models. He has also written considerably for the press, some of his articles being of a humorous nature, and expressed in terse, telling sentences.
Mr. Hall entered the political arena as a staunch young democrat, a position which he has ever since maintained. In the gubernatorial contest between Robinson and Cornell, in 1879, he began public speaking in favor of the democratic candidate; and in the presidential contest of the following year between Hancock and Garfield he took a still more active part, going through Chenango county with Edward F. Jones, now lieutenant-governor, and Hon. Walter H. Bunn, of Cooperstown, which latter he styles ” the first stump speaker for country districts in the world, outside of Virginia.” In 1882 he was elected to the state convention at Syracuse, principally in the interest of David B. Hill for lieutenant-governor, for whom he entertains the highest personal as well as political regard.
Mr. Hall was a delegate from the Twenty-sixth congressional district to the national democratic convention which met at St. Louis on the 8th of June, 1888, and renominated Grover Cleveland for the presidency. During that exciting and hotly contested canvass he took the stump for the democracy, its platform and its candidates, delivering many public addresses throughout the state.
Mr. Hall is a member of the Fort Orange club of this city, and of the Press club, and is an agreeable and popular companion among his friends, and affable and pleasant to all persons having business relations with him of an official nature.
Retiring rather than assertive by nature, a somewhat anomalous disposition for a public man, he has proved to be fully able to perform well the duties of every position to which he has been called.
Having early laid the foundation of a true manhood, under the care and guidance of excellent parents and teachers and by his own hard work and study, Mr. Hall is now rearing a substantial intellectual structure, to which every passing year may add something of grace, strength and dignity, the whole to be completed, if life shall last, in the fulness of manhood and with hands still further skilled in the knowledge of public affairs.
Since this sketch was put in type Mr. Hall has resigned from his position in the banking department and removed to New York city for the practice of his profession.