Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Charles Alma Hall (1854-1945)

Charles Alma was the first child born through the union of John Charles Hall and Selina DeGrey. He was born at Dudley, England on February 16, 1854, while his father was laboring as a missionary. The first three years of this life were spent in England because his father served as a missionary for nearly five years. Then when he was but a child of three, Charles and his parents returned to America aboard the ship "George Washington". They docked in Boston about April, 1857, after twenty-one days on the ocean instead of the usual six weeks. They were met in Boston by Charles' Grandmother DeGrey and her family, who had preceded them by nine months. It was indeed a happy reunion for them and because Charles was but a wee child, he received a majority of the attention.

The trip from the east coast to the Salt Lake Valley was a trial and hardship at times to his parents and others in the group, but Charles knew nothing of this. His days were spent in eating and sleeping to the rhythm of the wagon wheels.

His parents, after their arrival in Salt Lake City, remained long enough to become fairly settled. Then his father decided to go into Weber or Cache Counties, but because he was not accustomed to the cold climate, he volunteered when the time came to go into the Dixie land of Utah. In 1861 the family went south and established themselves in Rockville. Charles was nearly seven years old when the trip was made. By then he was able to drive a yoke of oxen and assisted his father during the journey from Salt Lake City to Rockville.

Not long after the family was settled and had started to see fruits of their efforts, Charles' mother, Selina, became discouraged with the hardships and privations of their life there so she returned to Salt Lake City with all her children except three. Charles was one of the three who remained with their father and Aunt Kezia until they were old enough to earn their own way. Charles was old enough at that time to be able to assist his father a great deal with the planting and harvesting.

On one occasion, President Brigham Young toured the state and visited all the Saints, even the most remote settlements. He traveled from one town to another in his horse-drawn, white top buggy. President Young first stopped at Rockville, where Charles as a young lad saw the revered President of the Church. Then the company went on to visit in Springdale, a few miles farther up the canyon.

Charles decided to go to Springdale, too, but knew he would have to walk as there was no available room in any of the conveyances traveling to Springdale. The main wagon road had been built by hand, more or less, and followed the easiest pattern, along the lowlands where there were not many rocks and gullies, and where the river bed at times had changed its course and left a firm sand bar. Charles knew the Indian Trails, which shortened the distance somewhat, so he traveled the foot paths. At several points the trails crossed the main road, and at each crossing Charles waited until the company passed by. When the company drove into Springdale, young Charles was there anxiously awaiting President Young's arrival. President Young recognized him as the boy who had left Rockville when he had and had traveled by foot faster then he had in his buggy and five span of horses.

When Charles was eight years old he was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. Through his parents strict adherence to the Gospel, Charles learned to know and respect the fact that he too must attend his Sunday School and Sacrament Services. Sometimes it was hard for him, when his thoughts were bubbling over with other things to do.

At the age of twelve, he was ordained a deacon and was privileged to officiate in the passing of the Sacrament. Now he was really full of life and ambition (what little boy of that age isn't?). It was difficult [for] Charles to sit still in church and not fidget. Regardless of his pent up energy, he found time to be proud that now he was of age to be a deacon. Most young children realized that only after their church duties were dispensed with, could they have their play.

Charles' childhood and youth were active ones, but regardless of this fact, he also had a happy, normal time during his growth to young manhood. There were too many natural sources for recreation and enjoyment for the young people of those early pioneer days to be inactive.

When Charles was sixteen years old he experienced a twinge of adventure in this soul. He then began to feel that Rockville was too small for him if he desired to progress to any degree, so he left home and started on his way to find a place where he could better his condition. At Toquerville, about 25 miles from Rockville, he met some men who had a large band of horses which they were taking to Wyoming. He talked with them and was told by the man in charge that if he knew the route to Salt Lake City, he could have a job with the outfit as a guide. All he would be required to do was to ride one of the horses and lead an old bell mare so the rest of the horses would follow. Since Charles had traveled the road several times before, he was a good guide for the company through Utah.

When the outfit arrived in Salt Lake, Charles visited his mother, who was living in a small log cabin. She urged Charles not to travel further with the horse traders but to remain with her. Charles agreed to stay in Salt Lake City and try and find work which he would like.

After trying several different jobs, none of which seemed to satisfy him, he happened to be on main street one day watching a crew of men setting up a telegraph line. One of the men, Harry Cox, was on top of one of the poles and had dropped his hammer. He called to Charles and asked him to throw the hammer to him. Young Charles quickly climbed the pole and handed Mr. Cox the hammer. This pleased Mr. Cox, who was foreman of the crew of men, and he offered Charles a job. Charles accepted and started to work the next morning. The work seemed to be what he was looking for, because he continued that type of work for many years. He worked throughout the territory setting up telegraph lines. He became foreman and repairman for the Deseret Telegraph Company, and worked at [the] same for many years after he was married.

It was while repairing the telegraph lines that he often stayed in Nephi, where he met Sarah Vickers, whom he married in April 1879 at the age of twenty-five. After they were married, they settled in Nephi and became parents of a fine family of eight children. Four of their children died in infancy. The oldest child, a daughter, died one year after she had married, leaving an infant son. Charles and Sarah took the tiny grandchild and raised it as one of their own children.

In the year 1900 Charles Alma was called to fulfill a mission. So in March 1900, Charles left his family and went to England where he spent two years promulgating the Gospel in the New Castel Conference. He made many friends and helped several families emigrate to Utah. He returned home in 1902 and was active in Church work as long as he could physically perform his duties. He did some temple work, but because there was not one in the family to take the lead in doing research in genealogy, he was not too active in this particular phase of the Gospel. He served the living by being an honest, law-abiding citizen, and a kind generous friend to his neighbors. He was a faithful and wise father and husband, and these attributes extended beyond the bounds of his home into his every day life and his fellowman.

He was a willing worker in his community as well as his church. He held several important positions in the community, and always worked for the betterment of the town in which he lived. He was president of the Nephi Irrigation Company Board of Directors and was State Road foreman for Juab County for eight years. He was considered, by those who were associated with him in his work and other activities, a very hard-working man, who endeavored to do well whatever task he undertook. He was always ready and willing to share with the poor and needy, but he did not want praise for any work or kindness he performed. His way of life was very modest and unpretentious.

Charles Alma lived to the ripe age of ninety-one. He was never a burden to anyone, even in old age, because of his independent nature. He insisted on always doing his own work and taking care of himself, regardless of his age. After a long life of good deeds and worthy accomplishments, Charles Alma passed away in April, 1945. The many descendants of Charles Alma Hall will long remember, through vivid memory and by word of mouth, the good man that he was.

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