Hall, Asa, J. P.
appeared in Acton Free Press (Acton, ON), 5 Mar 1903, p. 2, column 4
- Full Text
THE LATE ASA HALL, J.P.
A Pioneer of Acton; A Good Neigh-
A Helpful Citizen, And
A Christian Gentle-
BRIEF SKETCH OF HIS LIFE.
"Never mind the ancestry! A man I once heard of was ambitious to trace his ancestry to the Mayflower, and he stumbled over a horse-thief. Never mind a man's ancestry!"
In this democratic spirit the late D. L. Moody disposed of the history of past generations taking no credit to himself for their achievements, and feeling in no way responsible for their failings. It is nevertheless interesting to our readers that away back in 1770 the ancestors of the late Asa Hall, Esq., the subject of this sketch, lived their quiet lives in the seclusion of their farm homes in the State of Connecticut, and further that Mr. Hall was the representative of the third generation bearing this kingly name of bible times. Asa Hall was the son of Asa and Sarah Hall, of Quebec, and the grandson of Asa and Mary Hall, of the pretty Connecticut Valley. He was born in 1810 near the beautiful village of St. Andrews, on the Ottawa River, about fifty miles west of Montreal. Here his parents, who were United Empire Loyalists, had settled preferring, like many others of our best early settlers, to remove to Canada and hew out new homes for themselves, rather than to continue in a country which they felt had proved disloyal to the mother land. When he reached his majority he decided, - as many thousands since have done - to come west. Relatives had previously settled at Churchville, in Peel county, and after the tedious but very interesting 300-mile trip up the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, he reached Muddie Little York, and then proceeded to his destination. After a brief visit he took a prospecting trip and finally selected the farm which the north west corner of Acton now overlaps, and where all his years of manhood were spent. The title to this fine property came direct from the crown to Mr. Hall and was still vested in him at his death.
Having cleared a few acres on his new farm, and built a comfortable log house, he began to feel that a partner in life was desirable, and remembering a fair-haired maiden in the old home, who had attracted his attention before his removal, he proceeded thither in the fall of 1836 and in September he and Sabra Center were united in holy wedlock. This was a very happy marriage and for fifty years they resided together here, in the centre of a devoted family, and enjoyed the highest esteem of the community. Five children blessed the union. They were the late H. J. Hall, of Berlin, Erastus, who went on a gold prospecting trip to Caribou in 1862, and was accidentally shot at St. Albert, near Edmonton while en route; Mrs. Jas. Brown, who died here last May; Zalmon, of Penetanguishene, and the late Mrs. (Rev.) C. Cookman. Mrs. Hall died on Feb. 1st 1886. On the 28th Dec. 1887, he took his second partner, Mrs. Charles Wright, of Binbrook. For seven years they shared each other's joys and sorrows, when death came to Mrs. Hall, and she bid adieu to earthly scenes, and the old gentleman was again left with a lonely fireside.
Mr. Hall was a Justice of the Peace for more than half a century, and in the earlier days conducted nearly all the magisterial business of the community. He was a member of the Board of Public School Trustees for many years, and was one of the first members of the Municipal Council when Acton was incorporated in 1873. He was a Liberal in politics and took considerable interest in political affairs. The temperance cause had a strong friend in Asa Hall and he could look over a period of forty years and remember with much satisfaction that every public vote on the temperance question had received his support.
This vicinity fifty or sixty years ago was not so well supplied with professional men as it is to-day. In those days Mr. Hall was a general benefactor. He soothed the pains to which the flesh of the countryside was heir by bleeding and blistering; he annihilated the pangs of an aching tooth by wrenching out the offending molar with the turnkeys. People came for miles for him to perform the dental duties. The story is told that one Saturday night twelve persons called to have teeth pulled. The delicate operation was performed on the hearthstone of an open firepalce and of course there was more or less blood spilt. Mrs. Hall complained of her tidy heathstone being thus besmirched, and exclained, "Asa, this is getting to be a regular slaughter house." He gave legal advice and quelled family quarrels, always taking the role of peacemaker.
But the church of his choice was more his delight than any other place outside of his home. He was converted in his boyhood days at the old house in St. Andrews. With great gratitude he willingly testified at the last fellowship service he attended, that God had kept him for over seventy-five years a Christian. Before the era of churches in Acton his home was often the place for divine worship. It was to him a source of great delight when in 1834 Acton was made a regular appointment of the Nelson Circuit and an ordained minister preached here every two weeks. But his supreme joy was reached when in 1851 a church was erected, the neat white frame building now owned by the Disciples, and still used as a place of worship. With his own hands he assisted in the erection of this building, and associated with him were the Browns, and the Moores, the Speights, and the Lasbys, the Matthews, and others of the early settlers so well remembered in local history annals. He was a trusted official, of the Methodist church Acton, from that time until the hour of his death. He was helpful both in wise counsel and in general financial aid. For forty years he and his Christian wife attended to the preparation of the sacramental elements. His home was always the home of the Methodist minister, whether he was the pastor of the circuit or not. He was a good man and he experienced no greater joy than to see sinners turn to Christ at times of special evangelistic effort, and especially if they were the children of old friends of neighbors. The Sunday School was also a place of great interest to him and he was enrolled a member from the day of its organization, 50 years ago, until he died.
Mr. Hall retired from active labors when he reached seventy-five. The years since have been years of much pleasure and profitable leisure and intercourse. The homes of his family always welcomed him and he made annual visits to each, making his permanent home of late years with his son-in-law, Mr. James Brown.
The last week in September he went to Penetanguishene to spend the winter in the home of his son, Z. A. Hall, Esq. He enjoyed his stay and his faculties generally were quite alert. Since he left Acton he twice read through the book of Psalms without spectacles. He peacefully passed away on Tuesday, 24th February.
The remains were brought to Acton last Thursday morning. A very impressive memorial service was conducted by Rev. A. E. Smith, B.D., in the Methodist Church, which was tastefully draped in black for the occasion. Mr. Smith's remarks were very appropriate and much appreciated by the large congregation present.
Friends from a distance attended the funeral as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Z. A. Hall and Miss Hall, Penetanguishene; Mrs. H. J. Hall and Mr. Monteath Hall, Berlin; Rev. C. Cookman, Arkwright; Miss Maud Cookman, Deaconess, Toronto; Mr. and Miss Center, Milton; Mr. George Hall and Mrs. McCurdy, Trafalgar; Mr. Levi Hall, Churchville; Mr. Joseph Brown, Coldwater; Mr. J. P. Secord, Orillia; Mr. John Wright, Brampton; Mr. J. C. Breithaupt, Berlin; and Mr. and Mrs. John Moore, Limehouse.
The FREE PRESS has pleasure in presenting herewith a portrait of Mr. Hall taken by Artist Ramshaw on his ninety-first birthday.
Note - Photograph included in original newspaper article.
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- 5 Mar 1903
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