Note: this Autobiography was printed in 1975 by the William Halls Family Organization in its family periodical, Through the Halls of History. Editor Kristine Halls Smith used original sources provided by Mosiah's daughter Marian Hall Thompson. Mosiah was the first child of William Halls and Louisa Carritt Enderby, born 12 March 1862 in Kaysville, Utah.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MOSIAH HALL
Wait not till fate has struck the hour;
Bestow the kindly word and flower
Ere life’s sweet song is hushed forever.
My first turning point was when my teacher, Charles Wright, and Father induced me to take the normal course at the University of Deseret. I tremble to think what would have become of me had this not happened. It was Monday in late August, 1879, when three adolescent youths, David L. Dean, Wiley G. Cragun, and myself, took our seats with some ninety other students in the assembly room of the old adobe building of the University of Deseret. We had been chosen by the Weber County school officials to take the normal course to prepare for teaching. Like many others, we came directly from the farm and were rough and unkempt. Although the students were dressed in their Sunday best that first day at the University, some of us were such odd, comical sights as to evoke broad smiles from the more sophisticated students present. My two friends and I were later to be known as the "three spring chickens from Weber.” I was the youngest of this trio of chicks and it was I who was largely responsible for the title bestowed on us. I was a few months past seventeen, tall, with thin shoulders shaped like a triangle, and of course, physically undeveloped. The way I was dressed increased my awkward, comical appearance. A very high celluloid collar held up my chin and hid my long, thin neck. Wide celluloid cuffs extended a couple of inches below my coat sleeves and a large brightly colored cravat covered my shirt front. When dressed for the street with my brown derby slightly tipped to one side of my curly head, I presented a rib-tickling picture that was bound to convulse the members of the school, especially the coeds. My two companions were better looking, but bore sufficient resemblance in dress and innocence to be classed with me. We stuck together and were rarely seen apart.That first day, Dr. John R. Park, president of the University arose. The short talk he gave was simple, but unbelievably impressive. We had never before heard anything quite so sensible and convincing. The substance of his speech, as far as I remember, was as follows: AThis is your university. It was instituted by the Territory of Utah for your benefit and its expenses paid for by your parents. The faculty is here to help you to help yourselves. It is a democratic university, which means that every student must share with the faculty the responsibility of conducting it and must cooperate in every way possible for its welfare and success. Each of you will have the right to full and free expression of his thoughts and no opinions or beliefs will be forced upon you. You are no longer children, but men and women and we regard every man in the university as a gentleman and every woman as a lady. You know what you should do and how to behave and must not expect anyone else to tell you. We have, therefore, no rules to follow, laws to obey, or punishments to inflict.” To most of us who had never known a school where physical punishment was not the basis of discipline and force the instrument of obedience, this announcement was astounding and disturbing. One morning Dr. Park remarked, AIt has come to my attention that a few students slip down the stairs and around the north corner of the building and engage in cigarette smoking. We have no rules against smoking, but since a large majority of the people of this Territory are strongly opposed to this habit and would severely criticize the university if it seemed even to sanction its use, the regents of the U. have requested me to ask students not to smoke in the university or on its grounds. May I ask you to please cooperate with the administration in observing this request?” Young as I was, I had acquired the habit of smoking and I was one of the number referred to by the Doctor who had slipped around the corner to indulge the habit. A few days later, I found myself in a sort of subconscious state around the corner about to light a cigarette when I suddenly realized what I was doing. “Hey, fellows,” I said, “remember what the Doctor said? I’m quitting!” I threw the cigarette to the ground and crushed it under my heel. That was the end of the cigarette habit with me.
All too soon the year closed and commencement day came in June, 1880. I received a contract to teach the following year in one of the ward schools of Salt Lake City where my life-long service as an educator began. My first school was in the Seventh Ward and I regarded this largely as a failure. The only really good work I recall was with the chart class. I taught them the new word method of reading with some phonetics. The school was mixed, but for two or three months in the winter, I had an assistant, Miss Lizzie Cooper, who taught the primary grades. I was offered the school for the following year, but decided I didn’t know anything, so I returned to the Deseret University instead. I had taken a notebook full of questions on teaching. I repeated the course on methods of teaching and made it pretty hot for Dr. Park. I questioned and challenged everything. During the year I took all the courses the curriculum offered. There were but four full-time teachers, Dr. Park, Professor Kingsbury, Professor J.B. Toronto, and Instructor J.H. Paul. Classes were held in an old adobe building on the corner across the street from West Side High School. It was a great school, nevertheless, and from it came most of the early leaders of Utah in every field. I completed and received a certificate for the course in mathematics and surveying because I thought I might become a civil engineer.
During the summer of 1882 I worked on the railroad near McCammon, Idaho and later in the engineer’s camp near Silver Bow, Montana on the Northern Pacific Railroad. I became quite expert in this work. The work on the division was about completed; nothing else was in sight and winter was coming on, so I secured a pass on the Utah Northern Railroad and came back to Salt Lake, saw Dr. Park, and secured a school to teach at Centerville in Davis County, beginning about November 1, 1882.
Here the second and most important incident of my life happened. I met my future wife, Miss Rose Ann Walton, one of my school girls. We were married June 12, 1884 and have had eleven children. She attended the Deseret University and obtained a Normal Certificate. After marriage, she taught school with me one year. To her I owe most of my success. In my book “Parent and Child”, used extensively in the Church Sunday schools, the dedication is to my wife, a part of which read, “To my wife who accomplishes in actual practice what I state imperfectly as theory.”
I taught two years for about six months each in Centerville and later two more years, spending my summers in Huntsville and on a ranch which my brothers and I had taken up in Idaho. I used my knowledge of surveying to help acquire land, survey canals, etc. For several years, I saved and put $25.00 a month into land. This has helped to finance my large family in getting an education, adding to my steady, but moderate salary as a teacher. I was a partner with my two brothers for many years and later a partner with my son, Edgar, in ownership of a fine ranch in Idaho. I expect this investment to secure me and my wife when I am retired.
On September 1, 1884, I began teaching in the Central School in Ogden under Professor L.F. Moench, principal. A year or two later Professor T. B. Lewis was principal. Under him the school was fully graded and the beginning of a high school established. Lewis taught the first fully organized high school in Ogden. I was his assistant and during the winter taught as many as 120 pupils in one room. I taught high school classes in geometry, bookkeeping, and history for four years. Many of Ogden’s leading citizens came from this school.
The two years 1888 to 1890 I taught school again in Centerville. On April 8, 1890 I was called to teach and serve as principal at the school in my hometown in Huntsville. I taught in this school for about four years, during which time a fine new brick schoolhouse was built and a first class graded school established. The school led in social activities such as public dances and entertainments. Night classes in writing and elocution were conducted and the town thoroughly toned up. An extraordinarily fine class of young people were developed. From them fully a score of fine school teachers originated. Among them were Matilda Peterson and her sister Caroline, David O. McKay, and Thomas E. McKay as well as several of his sisters and cousins, Miss Anderson, Miss Schade, several Wangsgards, Miss Geertsen, and many others. During this period Weber County originated the first eighth grade commencement exercises for graduates from the public schools that were ever held in the rural schools of Utah. Huntsville turned out each year a majority of such graduates. Many of these graduates were influenced to attend the U. of U. or other institutions of higher learning
On January 1, 1884 I was appointed County Superintendent of the Weber County schools where I served until July 1, 1898 when the position of Professor and Head of the Department of Education of the Brigham Young College in Logan was accepted with teaching to begin about September 1st. While I was superintendent of schools, great progress was made toward the grading of the schools and a large number of eighth grade graduates were turned out. The schools as a whole reached a high degree of excellence for those times and received considerable recognition in the state. During this period I made another high resolve--to become an authority on education in the state and to reach a professorship in the University of Utah. Summer school and home extension courses were taken for many years. A high school life diploma was secured in 1896, a B.S. degree in 1899 from the Brigham Young College and Ph.M. from the University of Chicago in 1902. In the meantime, the first school geography of Utah was published in Frye’s Geography. A relief map of Utah was also published and was used widely in the schools of the state. Later several other more elaborate geographies of Utah were written and published.
The seven years spent in the Brigham Young College in Logan were the most successful and satisfactory years of my professional career. The production of teachers was my particular aim, but the development of men and women of fine quality and character was ever a higher purpose. Among the students there who were stimulated to high purposes of living and achievement were Dr. E.E. Erickson, Dr. Lyman Daines, Dr. Porter, Professor Pherson and Professor Hyrum Schneider, all now of the University of Utah. Dr. David W. Henderson and his brother, William H., Dr. David Allen, Dr. John Stock, and Dr. John Bernheisel were others. Those now at the Utah Agricultural College were Dr. Joseph Geddes, Dr. Parley E. Peterson, Dr. Daines, Professor Jensen, and Miss Mary Sorensen. In Logan City are Miss Edith Bowen and Lottie Halls Esplin. In Ogden are Miss Nellie Hendricks and the Wangsgard boys.
In 1905 I came to Salt Lake City to accept a position as head of Education in the L.D.S. College but with the deeper purpose of entering the University of Utah. During the summer of 1906, I attended again the University of Chicago and in the fall of 1907 was called to the University of Utah as Assistant Professor of Education and later Associate Professor of Education. Half-time was devoted for a time to teaching educational subjects and half to the special duty of developing the high schools of the state. With the princely State Superintendent A.C. Nelson, every town of importance in the state was visited and the benefits of high school education extolled. Even Sunday meetings were utilized for this purpose. It was shown not only that a high school education was a moral and spiritual asset, but that it had great economic worth, in fact it was worth $10,000 to the graduate; it would add at least that much to his earning capacity.
In 1912 I was appointed State High School Inspector by the State Board of Education. Here I continued the inspection of high schools which I had begun earlier while employed by the university. When I began inspecting the schools, there were but three or four schools offering four years of work. The entire enrollment of students was about 3,000. By 1920 there were 55 fine new high school buildings situated for the most part on 10 acre campuses; the enrollment was about 26,000. In the meantime a fund to aid high schools had been provided by the legislature and in 1915 complete county consolidation of the schools was effected. Since 1920, I have acted as State Supervisor of Vocational Rehabilitation. The purpose of this is to provide training and return to industry handicapped adults who are capable of such training. The federal government and the state cooperate in this work and provide funds for it.
I believe a person can reach the ideals and purposes of life which he sets before him, provided they are not unreasonable and he is willing to work persistently and faithfully for their realization. I find that I have reached all the goals I set for myself. I might have gone further, probably, if I had aimed higher. Yet, I do not know; I am well satisfied.
By B.A. Fowler
Printed in the Utah Educational Review, November, 1930, pages 132-33 and 160-61.
The following appreciation by George N. Child, superintendent of the Salt Lake City schools, seems a fitting introduction to this article: “Mosiah Hall stands among the few surviving educators of our state whose services round out a half century. Fifty years of devotion to high educational ideals -- fifty years of constant endeavor and high accomplishments -- is an enviable record. Thousands of men and women call him blessed for the touch of his guiding hand. He has taught both by precept and example and ever kept an open and active mind. Although the years must be counted, I cannot think of Mosiah Hall as an elderly man, for he manages somehow to keep his buoyant step and his forward vision of bigger and better things. He talks not so much of what he has accomplished as what lies ahead. He has earned the honored place among Utah’s educational leaders.”
Mosiah Hall was born in the little town of Kaysville, Davis County, March 12, 1862. His father, William Halls, and his mother, Louisa C. Enderby, were pioneers of good, old English stock. Before he was a year old, his parents moved to Huntsville, Weber County, where he passed his childhood working on a farm and stock ranch in summer and attending the village school in winter. Like others of the time, young Hall experienced the hardships of the early pioneer life. He went barefoot until snow fell and he passed many a rigorous winter without knowing the luxury of an overcoat. Business in those days was largely by barter and exchange. His first dance tickets were paid for by a bag of wheat or potatoes, and he remembers once presenting in payment a squawking rooster. The real thrill of his life came when he received a 25 cent greenback bill in payment for a day’s wages. This was preserved as a cherished memento for thirty years. On his first visit to Salt Lake City, his companion pointed out a clerk in Walker Brothers’ Dry Goods Store who was said to be making $50.00 a month. “What a marvel!” though young Hall and then sizing up the clerk, remarked, “Some day I’m going to be smart enough to earn $50.00 a month, too.”
During his early adolescent years, he fell in with a rough crowd whose delight was to ride wild horses and to smoke and drink. No one could say what would have become of him had not his old teacher, Charles Wright, taken him in hand and insisted that he attend the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah) as a normal student. After weeks of persuasion, he consented. Here he soon succumbed to the benign influence of Dr. John R. Park and began to sense the difference between earnest students and those who sneaked down the back stairs to smoke and tell smutty yarns. Catching himself one day with this latter group, he became disgusted with himself, trampled his cigarette into the dust, and resolved henceforth to associate with “the other crowd.”
In 1880, at the age of eighteen, he received his normal certificate and began teaching in the Seventh Ward School in Salt Lake City. The fifty ensuing years have been devoted to teaching or educational supervision. Through extension work and attendance at summer school, he continued his education, taking out a bachelor’s degree in science in 1902, and later a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago. In 1884, while teaching in Centerville, Davis County, he married one of his former pupils, Miss Rose A. Walton. This he regards as the most fortunate event of his life. An ideal family of eleven children resulted from this union. Five of them are college graduates, the other have at least a high school education, and all of them are fine upstanding people whom it is a pleasure to know.
“Professor Hall”, as he is affectionately known by thousands of teachers and friends throughout the state, has had a varied experience. This includes his work as grade teacher, principal, superintendent of Weber County schools, professor of education in the Brigham Young College, Logan, and in the University of Utah, state high school inspector, and state supervisor of vocational rehabilitation.
The writer, when a youth of thirteen in the Hooper school, first met Professor Hall who was visiting in the capacity of superintendent. I saw before me a rather tall, slender, businesslike man with curly hair, and twinkling eye, whose personality radiated confidence and dignity. He took the class in geography and drew a relief map of North America, describing as he drew the interesting facts related thereto. The skill and ease of this performance won my admiration, and my regard for him, my predecessor of thirty years ago, has increased with the years. I am proud to call him friend.
Besides his long experience as teacher and administrator, Professor Hall is an author of ability. His style is direct, logical, and convincing--at times humorous. In addition to innumerable articles for newspapers and magazines, he is the author of many pamphlets dealing with educational and social problems, of a geography and relief map of Utah, and of the two widely used books, “Parent and Child” and “A Practical Sociology.” The first mentioned book is dedicated to his wife and contains this fine tribute, “To my wife who achieves in practice what I but imperfectly state as theory.” His writings earned for him a place in the “International Who’s Who for 1912.”
Professor Hall is still “going strong.” (1930) He appears to have ahead of him a number of years of vigorous service. Moreover, he has been thrifty. His early savings were invested in farm and ranch lands and now in his advanced years they promise financial independence to himself and wife. All hail to this modest, efficient schoolman! May his influence carry on forever! May his declining years be his happiest!
It has been said that a true measure of one’s life is found in the number of friends acquired. In this respect Professor Hall is among the very fortunate. There are hundreds throughout Utah who call his name blessed. A few have given expression to their feeling and estimates in the following paragraphs:
“At the susceptible period of adolescence, I was fortunate to be a pupil under Professor Hall. I regarded him then as I do now, as an ideal teacher. By this term, I mean, one 1. who loves his chosen vocation, 2. who makes ideal citizenship his constant aim, 3. who inspires his pupils with a desire to learn, 4. whose method is suggestive rather then dogmatic, and 5. whose daily life is such that his pupils will always be proud to call him teacher. Such are the outstanding qualifications of my esteemed teacher and lifelong friend whose devotion to the profession and whose uplifting influence have earned for him an honored place in the Teachers’ Hall of Fame.” --David O. McKay, member of the Council of the Twelve, LDS Church.
“Professor Hall was my teacher and superintendent. He started me out as a teacher and has since been my counselor and guide. I owe much to his influence. I wish there might pass in review the many students and teachers whose lives have been stimulated by him. He taught them to love their work, to feel their duty, to be loyal to it, and to bring to it their best efforts. The world builds monuments of stone which crumble into dust, but he who lives in the hearts of his friends has builded a monument which time itself cannot destroy.” --Matilda Peterson, State Supervisor, Primary Grades.
“It is not only a rare thing but also a remarkable achievement for a man to continue giving conspicuous service in the schools of Utah, or any state for that matter, over a period of fifty years, and, furthermore, during that time to be the only man who has served as a member of the state school office staff during the administration of seven state superintendents. As I see it, one of the main factors which has contributed to such achievement is the philosophy of education which Professor Hall has always had clearly in his mind. This philosophy has been an unfailing guide to him in all of his vigorous activities.” --A.C. Mathison, Assistant State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“Praise is due to him who in a lifetime saves one soul. Joy and consolation should be the lot of Professor Hall for, during his fifty years of service, he has been the means of intellectual and moral salvation to thousands, and the end is not yet. In an especial manner is the whole state indebted to Mosiah Hall for his part in the establishment of the system of high schools in Utah. In 1907, when he became high school inspector, there were slightly more than 2,000 high school students in Utah and few suitable buildings. When he retired from the high school inspectorship in 1920, a real system of high schools had been established, with more than 20,000 high school pupils in attendance, housed generally in beautiful new buildings. In his administration of civilian rehabilitation during the past ten years, Professor Hall has sought out and provided training for hundreds of unfortunate men and women. Most of these have been returned to the class of independent, self-respecting citizens. The saving in money is great, but the conservation of human happiness is inestimable. And still the work goes on. Personally, I owe a great debt to Professor Hall. He signed my eighth grade diploma and pushed me on. He urged me to go to college. He advised me to become a high school principal and smoothed the way for my appointment. He recommended me for a position in the University, and has shown a personal joy in every humble success that I have achieved. And what he has done for me is only a type of his constant encouragement to other people.” --LeRoy E. Cowles, professor of educational administration, University of Utah.
THE LIFE AND EDUCATIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF MOSIAH HALL
by John G. Church
(Note: In 1950, Mr. Church wrote a 137-page Master’s Thesis on Mosiah Hall at the University of Utah. Much of the material in his summary of Mosiah’s life is already included in the two preceding stories; however, he does bring out a few more interesting ideas that help us to know more about the man who was Mosiah hall.)
Philosophy of Living and Personality
Hall’s zest for living and an accentuated optimism caused him to believe in the possibility of progress and to work zealously toward it.
Hall was tall and slim. He had shoulders which sloped at a remarkably steep grade; as a young teacher his shoulders won for him the distinction of being called “Mister A” because of his A-like appearance. Later when he was superintendent of schools, the teachers of Weber School District referred to Hall as “Ichabod Crane” because they could always recognize the tall, slim, eccentric-appearing Hall arriving by horseback in most cases because the roads were usually too poor for other modes of transportation. His long, angling frame made him poorly adapted to heavy labor. He would push himself forward in his various pursuits by means of nervous energy. Although frail, he was very seldom in ill health. He had slightly curly hair. His eyes twinkled in a face which was always ready to smile or laugh.
Interests of Mosiah Hall
Hall had a great variety of interests. Although his main interest was the development of education in Utah, he was concerned with many other projects. He was interested in agriculture. He was brought up on a farm. Many summers he stayed on a ranch owned by him and his brothers in southern Idaho. Even after he sold his part in the ranch, he enjoyed arranging gardens and planning the landscaping of the grounds of friends and relatives. He liked to go fishing. He enjoyed pitching horseshoes and was very proficient in this sport. He played frequently up until his death in February 1949. In the early part of his life, he surveyed land. He had his own instruments and used them on the ranch in Idaho. Hall always liked to travel. As high school inspector, as institute lecturer, and as director of rehabilitation, he traveled throughout the state. After retirement he traveled to California every winter. One of his most important interests was people. Hall loved to talk to people of every kind. He was congenial, sympathetic, and understanding. His interest and his pleasant personality won him friends wherever he went through the state. But the principal interest of Hall was Utah education. His name became involved in almost every area of the state educational system--whether administrative, curricular, financial, organizational, pedagogical, vocational, secondary, or elementary.
Hall the optimist
Hall felt that a day was not well-spent without a few good laughs. He would laugh, crow, and chortle over things in which a less fun-seeking person would find it hard to find humor. His humor was not subtle and was considered exaggerated by more conservative members of the family. Optimism was the keystone to Hall’s personality and philosophy of living. He always looked on the bright side of things. No matter how gloomy a situation might appear, he would find some element of hope to make solving the problem or adjusting to the situation seem worthwhile. Dr. E.E. Erickson, former head of the philosophy department of the University of Utah, praised Hall for maintaining his optimism even in college circles where the pessimist usually expresses the dominant note. Erickson added A...Yet if I ever knew an optimist who was loved for it, it was Mosiah Hall. He wrote about it, taught it as a philosophy in his classroom, lived it. And his optimism carried not only a good spirit but a conviction. We enjoyed it and loved him because of it. He had a redeeming sense of humor. It was not particularly subtle, but added spirit to the class situation as well as the ideas and the illustrations. The class period passed quickly and happily. We were never bored. His philosophy was not profound but as congenial as his personality. What he believed...was sincerely and effectively expressed. It was neither vague nor unimportant for him or for his students.”
Hall and his adjustment to changing conditions
Hall had a remarkable ability to maintain high ideals and yet keep his feet on the ground so that actual work toward his ideals could be accomplished. The effectiveness of Hall in his respect is shown by the fact that he was considered to be sufficiently practical to maintain his public positions even though he was forward-looking. He held his positions in the State Department of Education through the administrations of seven State Superintendents of Public Instruction. In consolidation of school districts, for instance, he worked as rapidly forward as he could get the people to go with him. Hall’s beliefs were not immovably fixed and were changed when new conditions developed to influence his convictions.
Hall’s view on religion
Mosiah Hall had a very broad interpretation of religion. He was not orthodox. He was very tolerant of the various creeds, although he belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He engaged in such religious activities in his church as attending High Priest meetings, teaching a High Priest class for a while, and acting as head of the Halls family genealogical organization. Most of his religious activities were engaged in during the latter part of his life. Hall was a contributing writer to Parent and Child, which was a series of essays with accompanying lessons for use in the parents’ department of the Latter-day Saints Sunday Schools. These essays were to be used as part of the talks in the Sunday-school classes for parents and could be read by people who were unable to attend church services. Mosiah Hall contributed an essay on “The Elementary Schools” in which he stressed the part the schools play in society and the importance of moral education in the schools. Hall called for the cessation of external criticism of any church. He felt that the criticism should come from within so that the church members themselves could work to improve faults in their church. He felt that internal criticism of a church was valuable in stimulating spiritual thought and in keeping a church from slipping back to pagan practices.