Monday, August 06, 2007


The Minneapolis I35 bridge failure reminded me of this photo which was in my great grandfather's collection. He was a surveyer for the railroad in Northern Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He had his team photographed in a studio. He is the man on the right with his hand on the tripod. His name was Charles Sumner Hall.This is a surveyors'camp near Winona, Michigan. The text says "My dear father Charles Sumner Hall around 1887 in Wilds of Michigan." We aren't sure, but we think he was named after Charles Sumner, who was an anti-slavery senator. This is from the web:
(Charles Sumner) opposed the annexation of Texas and criticized the institution of slavery. ... In 1851, a Democratic-Free-Soil coalition in the Massachusetts legislature chose Sumner to fill the vacated U.S. Senate seat of Daniel Webster, who had resigned to become Secretary of State. Sumner became a leader of the anti-slavery forces in the Senate. During the debates on slavery in Kansas in May 1856, he delivered a two-day oration—"The Crime against Kansas"—that vehemently condemned Southern advocacy of the expansion of slavery. I never met my great grandfather, Charles Sumner Hall. But I knew his wife, Mary Elder Hall, my great grandmother. She was a progressive woman who believed in education for all, even women. She was one of the few women in Iowa who had a college degree. She started a "Chautauqua" in her home in Mason City--a women's literary circle where each month they read philosophy and history-- Plato, Emerson, and others. This is an illustration from a book about the Chautauqua Movement which flourished at the turn of the century.

Mary Hall saw Abraham Lincoln when she was a child and had him sign her first grade school book. The book was at my grandmother's house for many years, but got lost.This is a picture of my great grandmother Mary Elder Hall with me in 1946 in her home in Mason City, Iowa. So how many degrees of seperation are there between me and Abraham Lincoln?

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