††††††††††† Though more than twenty-one years have passed since Priestley Hall departed this life, he is still remembered by many of Riversideís older residents as one of the most prominent and respected citizens of the municipality and county. A contemporary biographer wrote: ďAmong men to whom the Riverside community would gladly do honor none was more worthy by reason of his constructive energy than the late Priestley Hall. A large area on which beautiful homes and homesteads now stand was developed from land owned by Mr. Hall and his family. Possessed of rare intellectual gifts, he had the foresight of a pioneer and the practical energy to realize visions and make his aims and purposes come true.Ē
††††††††††† Mr. Hall was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 15, 1859, and was but a year old when his parents established their home in New York city, where he acquired his early education. He was a youth of fourteen when the family came to California in 1873, a date which marks practically the beginning of the real history of Riverside. Priestley Hall continued his education in the local schools here until 1877, and subsequently became associated with horticultural enterprises.
††††††††††† In 1880 Mr. Hall purchased one hundred and sixty acres of unimproved land from Mrs. Annie Denton Cridge. This land lay east of his fatherís place. Later he added† another eighty acres, and with forty acres left him by his father he possessed two hundred and eighty acres, all within the city limits. The first important development of this land for residential purposes was done in 1886, when he subdivided twenty acres and sold it. In the spring of 1887 he subdivided and sold forty acres more. The success in handling these two subdivisions encouraged him to plan the improvement and development of the entire tract, and part of his fatherís homestead as well. This he platted as Hallís Addition to Riverside. Mr. Hall graded avenues and streets, laid out parks, set out thousands of ornamental trees, and during his lifetime sold every lot and parcel except twenty acres comprised in his homestead. As a result of this, one of the largest real estate development transactions in Riverside county, he realized a substantial fortune.
††††††††††† As a young man he acted as assistant engineer of the Gage canal system under C. C. Miller, and was really a technical expert in irrigation and hydraulic engineering. In the development of his land he incorporated Hallís Addition Water Company, became its president, and laid pipe lines from the reservoir two and a half miles to his addition, passing all the principal avenues and providing a sufficient supply for both irrigation and domestic purposes. After expending sixty thousand dollars on this system he sold to the Artesia Water Company at the actual cost of installation.
††††††††††† In June, 1887, was incorporated Hallís Addition Railroad Company, with Mr. Hall as president and general manager. This company built and equipped a mile and a half of street railway from Tenth and Main to the center of the Hall tract. The cars were operated by mule power. This car line he consolidated with the Riverside Arlington Railway, and became a director in the latter. He also organized and was sole proprietor of Hallís Addition Nursery Company, which supplied horticultural and ornamental stocks over a wide territory. Hallís Addition he made one of the most beautiful residential sections of the city, and all who recognize its limits appreciate the wonderful work done there by its originator.
††††††††††† His enterprise extended in other directions. At Corona he developed and placed on the market a large acreage of alfalfa land, and its development led appreciably to the present prosperity and growth of Corona. Near Arch Beach he was interested in land as far as San Juan Point. During his lifetime his home place was noted for the wonderful quality of the oranges produced in his groves. He was a republican and prohibitionist, and worked ardently for prohibition. He was a member of the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, and his life was a complete exemplification of the doctrines of his faith. He was also affiliated with Evergreen Lodge, No. 259, F. & A. M.; Riverside Chapter, No. 67, R. A. M.; and Riverside Commandery, No. 28, K. T. He was highly esteemed as a Mason, and the resolutions passed by these bodies at the time of his death presented a straightforward record of the beauty of his character and his devotion to friendship and fraternal brotherhood. No resident of Riverside was more imbued with civic pride, and none was more frequently a leader in public movements that would tend to develop or improve the city.
††††††††††† On the 29th of July, 1890, Mr. Hall was united in marriage to Miss Agnes Overton, a native of Avoca, Wisconsin. As a wedding gift Mr. Hall gave his wife beautiful Rockledge, which has been her home ever since. For many years she has been a consistent member of the Church of Christ, Scientist.††
††††††††††† The death of Mr. Hall occurred in July, 1911, when he was sixty-two years of age. Many of his oldest friends and business associates were his brothers in Riverside Commandery No. 28 of the Knights Templar, and the formal ďIn MemoriamĒ drafted by this Commandery and entered into its records as a tribute of respect contains some discriminating references to him as a man and citizen that may be appropriately used in the conclusion of this brief article:
††††††††††† ďOf a deeply religious nature with none of the asperities of sect, kindly, generous, with a large sense of charity toward the failings of others, it seemed impossible for him to view his fellowmen from any narrow standpoint. Few men worked more assiduously in business, yet his success was marked by a greater standard than money.
††††††††††† ďHe was of a retiring nature, never ostentatiously or offensively advancing any of the views he held so decidedly on all important measures concerning the community, maintaining them in his gentle way, often with greater effect than loud and apparent persistence would have done. Public life, other than a strict attention to the duties of a private citizen, had no attraction for him His home to him was the ideal spot on earth and his love of birds and flowers was one of his marked characteristic.
††††††††††† ďAll of our Commandery who knew him, all his neighbors and business associates, in speaking of him will always have in mind his uncommon amiability and genial smile and word, and after character is considered, what higher word of praise can be uttered.Ē
Transcribed By:† Cecelia M. Setty.
Source: California of the South Vol. II,† by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 445-448, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,† Indianapolis.† 1933.
© 2012 Cecelia M. Setty.