1840: Francis Hall to John Hall

How Francis Hall might have looked

How Francis Hall might have looked

This letter was written by Francis Hall (1822-1902), the son of John Hall (1783-1847) and Sophia Kingsbury (1789-1829). Francis married Sarah Covell (1828-1848) in October 1846. Francis Hall eventually settled in Elmira, New York, was engaged as a bookseller, and was mayor of the city in 1858. He went to Japan and engaged in business at Yokohoma in the firm of Walsh, Hall & Co. He returned to Elmira in 1866, never remarried, and had no children.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to John Hall, Esq., Ellington, Connecticut

Coventry [Connecticut]
December 1, 1840

Dear Father,

I suppose you are anxious to hear how I succeed in my school. I had an unpleasant day to commence with & had only 24 scholars; but they have since come in to the number of 45. 40 is the most that I have had at once. I don’t know how many more I shall have, but I presume that it will count up some more than 50. When I got here, I found that some of the district were anxious to hire Mr. [Ralzamon] Belknap who was formerly steward at the Retreat [for the Insane in Hartford]. And some were very much opposed to him. Had I known this, I think that I should have availed myself of the chance I had at Chicopee. Capt. Dow, the committee man, said that he was determined “to have some one of our family if he could.” And if I had not come, they would have written to [my brother] Edward. I find that Wells was very much liked and if they could have had him, they would not have cared about Mr. Belknap or anybody else.

I spent the first Sabbath with Charity & was there again last evening. She says the people think that I have got a “pretty keen eye.” I have not  quite weaned myself from home yet. I feel so anxious in regard to my success in my school, it [is] so large and there are so many large scholars that I don’t feel quite contented yet, but I hope that I shall be. The school thus far has been quite orderly & I have not been obliged to punish any. I have one scholar nearly as large as William Pease. He is a Methodist and says he is going to be a missionary. I am no hand to originate any new thing in a school; I can only copy from others. I shall be pretty well pushed for time, I fear, unless I get the knack of running off the recitations.

My school is to be visited today. Dunham, who teaches at the center, is one of the visitors & the principal one who examined me. The Locos had a majority in the school meeting & turned out Mr. [Chauncey] Booth & the other visiting committee. One of the teachers here in town is Mr. Swift who taught in Rockville last winter. I spent the last Sabbath at Esq. Huntington’s, His mother told me that she was in hopes “that I looked just like Wells.” Quite a compliment to W. His son — one of my scholars — carried me in the evening over to Andover to a singing school. I did not see any of Capt. White’s folks. Mr. Weston is going to have a singing school here this winter. He commences on Thursday evening of this week. I think that I shall attend his schools.

I took dinner at Mr. Booth’s the day after he came from Ellington. He seemed quite confident that the people would take hold and do something about a school there. He also brought me word that Edward had purchased Mr. Whiton’s place & that possession was to be given next April. He did not know how much he gave for it. He gave me the bundle which Elisha sent. I think the sleeves of my shirts are rather too long, otherwise “O.K.”

My school for today is just out. The visitors were in & spoke very well of the school. I suppose that I have the best readers in town. Mr. Boynton has offered a prize to each of the six best readers in the parish, to be given near the close of winter. The visitors told my scholars that they would be _____ed if the did not behave: no need as yet of any threats. Mr. Booth was in also. I always feel well after my school is out at night and if I am only successful in my school, I can make myself contented out of it. I don’t like this traveling all over town for my board. It is too much like working extra for it. I am sure if this town was not so covered with rocks, it would blow off in such a wind as we had last evening. I consider my flute quite a help to me here. I hope that I shall be able to learn to sing this winter.

I expect to write to [brother] Junius the next week. I have not written to him since last Spring. He must think me quite affectionate. In regard to my going home this winter, it is uncertain. Charity told me that I might take their horse and carry her up sometime. Perhaps I shall about the middle of winter. I am rather too much afraid of being blocked up. I wish you would send this letter to Wells on Saturday. I should like to have him write me any instructions that he deems necessary in this land of rocks and hills. I have not become acquainted with the Porter girls he thought so much of. The Sewing Society commences operations this week but it is out of my way. I have had one invitation to a wedding but did not attend as no one expected but relatives.

I have a new scholar today by name of John Hall. He is from Columbia. I don’t think teaching quite as pleasant as being a clerk but there is money to be made by it. I hope for an answer. Love to all. From your affectionate son, — Francis

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