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Columbus Horatio Hall (1846-1926)

Branigin, Elba L., History of Johnson County, Indiana, Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Co., 1913, page 589

The life of the scholarly or professional man seldom exhibits any of those striking incidents that seize upon public feeling and attract attention to himself. His character is generally made up of the aggregate qualities and qualifications he may possess, as these may be elicited by the exercise of the duties of his vocation or the particular profession to which he may belong. But when such a man has so impressed his individuality upon his fellow men as to gain their confidence, and through that confidence be retained in important positions, he becomes a conspicuous figure in the body politics of the community. The subject of this review is one of the scholarly men of his state, who, not content to hide his talents amid life’s sequestered ways, by the force of will and a laudable ambition forged to the front in an exacting and responsible calling and earned an honorable reputation in one of the most important branches of public service. A well educated, symmetrically developed man, his work as an educator has for many years been of such a high standard of excellence that his position in the front rank of his profession has long been conceded. Keeping abreast the times in advanced educational methods, and possessing a broad and comprehensive knowledge, he is, because of his high attainments, well rounded character and large influence, eminently entitled to representation in the annals of his county.

[Special to the Indianapolis News (26 Oct 1926)]

Franklin, Ind., October 26. --- Dr. Columbus H. Hall, age eighty, for more than thirty-seven years head of the Greek department in Franklin College, fell dead in the street near his home shortly after noon, Monday. Death was due to an attack of apoplexy, the third he had suffered in two years. Dr. Hall suffered a second attack of apoplexy three weeks ago, and since had been in a weakened condition.

Dr. Hall had gone to his garden four blocks from his home, and was returning home with a wheelbarrow full of vegetables when stricken.

Dr. Hall was born at Chili, Miami county. He received his ministerial degree from the Chicago Seminary in 1872. He came to Franklin soon after this to take the chair of Greek in Franklin College, which position he held until 1912, when he was retired under the Carnegie Foundation pension plan. In 1874 he married Miss Theodosia Parks, of Bedford, who was the daughter of the Rev. Robert and Jane Short Parks. Mrs. Hall died in 1919.

Dr. Hall served as pastor of the Hurricane Baptist church in Johnson county for thirty-five years. He had also preached at the First Baptist church at Peru for some time. He was a member of the Franklin Rotary Club and a member of the Franklin library board, was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and was president of the Ancient Order of Franklin College Professors. Dr. Hall was past master of the Masonic lodge and had served as grand prelate of the Indiana Masonic lodge for three terms and prelate of the local commandery for forty-four years.

He is survived by the following children: Mrs. S. N. Selby, of San Diego, Cal.; Dr. Arnold Hall, president of the University of Oregon, at Eugene, Ore.; Mrs. R. E. Carter, of Indianapolis; Clarence Hall, Milwaukee; Warren Hall, Lagrange, Ill.; Miss Margaret Hall, teacher of history in the Woman’s State College at Montevallo Ala., and Miss Florence Hall, a teacher of French and German in Franklin College. He also is survived by a granddaughter, Miss Katherine Zoe Hall, who had made her home with Dr. Hall since the death of her mother many years ago; a brother, C. N. Hall, and a sister, Mrs. Flora Shirk, both of Peru.

Columbus H. Hall, who, after nearly four decades of active and effective labor in the educational field, is now retired from the activities which formerly commanded his best efforts, is a native son of the Hoosier state, having been born at Chili, Miami county, on November 17, 1846. His parents, Nelson C. and Letitia (Griswold) Hall, were natives, respectively, of New York and Vermont, both descending from sterling old Eastern families, from whom they inherited those characteristics which enabled them, in an early day, to forsake the comforts and ties of their old home and take up life in the new and still comparatively undeveloped West, of which Indiana was then a part. However, Nelson C. Hall, with a sagacity and courage characteristic of the pioneers of that day, boldly cast his lot with the new community and there he identified himself with the life of the people and, as the proprietor of “the village store,” he became a man of considerable local importance and influence. With the exception of seven years which were spent by the family at Akron, Indiana, the village of Chili remained the home of Columbus Hall during his boyhood and early manhood. His early education was received in the schools of his home neighborhood and in the high school at Peru. In 1862 he was converted in a Methodist church at Akron, and about two years later he joined a Baptist church in the country near his home. He had an intense longing for a higher education than was afforded him thus far, and in the fall of 1866 he became a student in the Ladoga (Indiana) Seminary. A year later he followed Prof. William Hill from Ladoga to Franklin College, which Professor Hill was then re-opening, and here he remained until the middle of his senior year, February, 1872, when the college suspended. He at once entered Chicago University, where he completed his course and was graduated in the following June. He had “seen the vision of the Christ” and had consecrated himself to the ministry and, to the end that he might prepare himself for his life work, he entered the Baptist Theological Seminary at Chicago, where he graduated in April, 1875, receiving, the same year, the degree of Master of Arts from Franklin College and the University of Chicago. In May, 1874, he was ordained a minister in the Prairie Vine church, in Newton county, Indiana, and at once entered enthusiastically upon his long cherished career as a minister of the gospel. However, early in 1875 he was invited and urged to become a teacher in Franklin College, and, though it meant the breaking up of his plans and purposes, he obeyed the call to duty, and, moved by his intense interest in the educational progress of his native state, began his work there in September of that year. He taught, in turn, Greek, science and Latin, but in 1879 was placed permanently at the head of the Greek department and under his guidance and direction Franklin College became noted in this department. The study of Greek language and literature is generally conceded to be one of the best disciplines for the mind in the entire college curriculum, besides which, the language itself deserves a close and critical study. A country’s literature inevitably exhibits the characteristics of the people, and, as in the realm of art Greece stands without a peer, so its language is the most artistic and expressive the world has ever known. Doctor Hall loved Greek for its own sake and he was able to impart to his students a love and appreciation for the language that they had not had before. Possessing marked poetic instincts, he was able to catch the beauty of the rhythm and the music of the cadence and, catching his inspiration and enthusiasm, those under him were stimulated to greater study and larger results than could otherwise have been attained.

In 1885 Doctor Hall was elected vice-president of Franklin College, and in 1894 he spent several months traveling in Europe, Egypt and the Holy Land, and in 1911 Dr. Hall and Mrs. Hall spent two months traveling in Europe, visiting Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, France, England and Scotland. On June 12, 1912, after thirty-seven years of continuous service as an educator, all of them with Franklin College, Doctor Hall resigned and has since been living quietly in his comfortable home at Franklin. In addition to his college work, Doctor Hall continued to perform some work as a minister and for thirty-three years he has served as pastor of the Hurricane Baptist church. As preacher and teacher he always did his very best and the good he accomplished passes any finite measure. In the cause of Christian education he devoted the best years of his life, and it is not possible to measure adequately the height, depth and breadth of such a life, for its influence will continue to permeate the lives of others through succeeding generations. Doctor Hall has ever held the unequivocal confidence and esteem of the people among whom he has labored so long and so earnestly.

On June 15, 1875, Doctor Hall was united in marriage with Theodosia Parks. She was born at Bedford, Indiana, on July 13, 1856; a daughter of Rev. R. M. and Jane (Short) Parks. Rev. R. M. Parks was one of the pioneer Baptist preachers of Indiana. Mrs. Hall graduated from Franklin College, class of 1875, being the youngest person ever graduated from the college. For one year after graduation she was a tutor in the college. To Dr. and Mrs. Hall have come nine children, as follows: Zoe Parks Hall, deceased, who was the wife of John Hall, and died on December 21, 1907; Mary Griswold Hall is the wife of Dr. G. M. Selby, and they reside at Sheridan, Wyoming; Arnold Bennett Hall, assistant professor of political science in the University of Wisconsin; Theodore Hall, who died on June 18, 1884; Letitia Theodora Hall is the head of the Latin department in the Emerson School, Gary, Indiana; Warren Short Hall is assistant manager of the Fame Laundry, Toledo, Ohio; Nelson Clarence Hall is a teacher in the Rock River Military Academy, Dixon, Illinois; Esther Marguerite Hall is attending Franklin College; Florence Christine Hall is a student in the public school.