Contributed by: Floyd Mattoon
Author: William Lord deRossett Pictoral and Historical New Hanover County and Wilmington North Carolina 1723 – 1938 Edited, Compiled and Published by William Lord deRossett, Wilmington, NC 1938. [p.47 –includes a picture captioned, Benjamin Franklin Hall C.S.A.] BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HALL Benjamin Franklin Hall was the seventh son of Susan Eliza McGowan and Thomas Pearsall Hall. Born January 29, 1842, near Hallsville, N.C., the village founded by his grandfather, William Hall, in the ancient Scotch-Irish settlement of Henry McCulloch, Esq., of London. His ancestors included many honored citizens of Duplin County, sturdy and long-lived and God-fearing. He attended primary schools at home, and the Grove Academy, at Kenansville. Studied under such excellent teachers as Hon. B. F. Grady and Mr. Samuel Clement, and the famous teacher-minister, Dr. James M. Sprunt, whose remarkable influence is still felt throughout the county. He was prevented from entering the University of North Carolina in the fall of 1861, but enlisted in March in the Confederate Army, and there served his four years, in the 12th and 43rd North Carolina Regiments. Though a Captain’s commission was issued for him as the war closed, he surrendered at Appomattox as First Sergeant of Company A, that splendid little “Duplin Rifles,” which never had a deserter. Details of their history are to be found in the “Sketch of the Duplin Rifles,” and in “Clarke’s North Carolina Regiments.” Though a good soldier and officer, during his life, he retained a remarkable knowledge and memory of that conflict, and was sincerely convinced that war is unnecessary and barbarous, and should be the last resort of civilized people. Heart-broken by the surrender of the Cause, hampered in his youthful ambitions, with his Southland wrecked, he went back to the schoolroom and taught for two years in Duplin, as he had done three terms before the war, at the tender age of sixteen. In his bare and freezing room he studied bookkeeping late at night. And in 1868 he came to Wilmington to enter business. From 1869 to 1876 he was a member of the firm of Edwards and Hall, and in 1876 he established the firm of Hall and Pearsall, incorporated in 1901, which grew into one of the largest businesses of its kind in the city. Was interested in other local business affairs, serving as Director of the First National Bank of Wilmington, the Wilmington Savings & Trust Co., the Wimington Seacost Railroad. Mr. Hall was always a Democrat, though without political ambitions. He labored in behalf of good government, and often wrote forcefully to the papers, letters advocating the election of Woodrow Wilson, for whom he felt great friendship and admiration. In 1879, Mr. Hall was elected a ruling elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, and this well-loved office he honored with a most devoted service till his death. He served also as a Trustee of Union Theological Seminary in Virginia from 1884 to 1916. His marriage, on April 12, 1871, was to him the most important event of his life, and all the love of a deep nature was given throughout his life to the unusually gifted and devoted woman who was his wife, Margaret Tannahill Sprunt, daughter of Alexander and Jane Dalziel Sprunt, of Scotland and Trinidad. Their seven children are: Dr. James Sprunt Hall, Alexander McDonald Hall, died in 1933, Susan E. Hall, Louis Edward Hall, John Hall, Jessie Daliel Hall and Jane Sprunt Hall. Mr. Hall was in business until the last year of his life. He died Oct. 4, 1934, at the age of ninety-two years. “The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” [end of item] Additional Comments: Edwards & Hall – Benjamin Franklin Hall was living in the household of Jacob J. Edwards at the 1870 Census – Wilmington, NC. They were both listed as “Ret. Grocer”s. The Morning Start newspaper article, “A Solid House,” regarding the “Hall & Pearsall” business states that Oscar Pearsall joined the business shortly before the death of (Jacob) Edwards in 1876. Morton & Hall – Stephen H. Morton partnered with B. F. Hall in the turpentine & naval stores business. After the death of S. H. Morton in May of 1886, his son, Geo. L. took over the business. Jesse Wilder, the brother-in-law of S. H. Morton, oversaw the daily operations of the business. In 1890, there was an amicable dissolution of the partnership between Geo. L. Morton and B. Frank Hall. Hall & Pearsall – “They also run a line of schooners for the coasting trade, dealing principally with Onslow county. The schooners make regular trips, bringing in country produce and taking out merchandise for the large trade the house has in the territory there is opened up.” – Excerpted from the Morning Start article, “A Solid House”. B. F. Hall is listed as one of the witnesses to the Last Will and Testament of Stephen H. Morton 22 May 1886.
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