This biography was printed in November 1975 by the William Halls Family Organization in its family periodical, Through the Halls of History, Kristine Halls Smith, editor.
© 1975 William Halls Family Organization
Thomas Halls (1865-1918) was the third child and son of William Halls (1834-1920) and Louisa Carritt Enderby (1840-1911)
by Kristine Halls Smith
On June 18, 1865, in Huntsville, Utah, Louisa Enderby Halls gave birth to her third child, a son. Two brothers, Mosiah and William, Jr., were already keeping their mother busy and eventually Louisa would have three more children, George, Louisa Elizabeth, and John. Thomas’s father later had two other wives who eventually had thirteen more children. Thomas’s parents, Louisa and William, were born and raised in England and had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England as teenagers, in 1851 and 1855 respectively. They emigrated to Utah in 1861 and settled in Huntsville the following year.
Thomas grew up in Huntsville and attended school there. He was baptized into the church in August of 1873 by Loren Petersen. As he was growing up there in Huntsville, he must have known Luella Hammond, a girl five years younger than he and a daughter of his father’s friend, Francis A. Hammond, but probably at that time he didn’t know that she would later become his wife.
Luella Adelaide Hammond was also born in Huntsville, on January 27, 1871. Her father, Francis A. Hammond, was born in New York in 1822 and spent the early part of his life as a sailor going twice around the globe. He was in San Francisco during the gold rush and was fortunate enough to make money rapidly during that time. After coming to Utah he held many offices and was a prominent member of the Utah legislature. He served several missions for his church before finally settling in Huntsville. He was important to the church and to the little town of Huntsville for he served as the ward bishop. Thomas’s father, William Halls, was Bishop Hammond’s counselor.
Luella’s mother was Mary Jane Dilworth, known in Utah history as the first school teacher in the state. Luella grew up in Huntsville and went to school there. She learned, too, the skills such as cooking and sewing which would prepare her for a life as a wife and mother.
Early in 1885, when Tom was 19 and Luella was 14, their fathers were called to help settle the San Juan area in southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado. They traveled together with their fathers and their families to settle in this new area. Tom’s father, William, took with him his second wife, Johanne, and her eight children and also two of the sons of his first wife, Tom and Will. Luella’s mother had died a few years earlier, but Luella was now being cared for by her father’s third wife, Martha Holmes. They all stayed near Bluff, Utah the first year, but the following year, William took his family to settle in Mancos, Colorado. For the next three years, Tom and Luella probably had contact with each other, for Luella’s father was president of the San Juan Stake and Tom’s father was again his counselor. They were likely together at various stake functions, for people from Bluff and Mancos joined together for conferences and other activities in Monticello.
Three years after going to the San Juan area, when Tom was 23 and Luella was 17, they traveled back to northern Utah where they were married in the Logan Temple on December 13, 1888. Luella was the second of F.A. Hammond’s daughters to join the Halls family. Her older sister, Moiselle, had married Tom’s Uncle George twelve years earlier.
After Tom and Luella were married they homesteaded a piece of property 4 1/2 miles south of Mancos in Webber Canyon. Tucked against the foothills beneath Mesa Verde, they built a little wooden house. Surrounding their home were beautiful hills and mountains covered with pinions and junipers, but when they settled there their farm land was mostly trees and brush. Hard work eventually developed this land into broad green pastures and fields of hay and grain and plentiful orchards. Thomas was known as a good farmer and a hard worker and he helped to develop the irrigation system which watered their land. Their little house originally had a dirt floor, but improvements were made and later years brought additions to the west and south sides of the house which more than doubled its size.
Not long after they established their home, their first son, Francis William was born on December 20, 1889. A close neighbor to Tom and Luella at about this time was Tom’s brother Will and his wife, Ella. Will’s oldest son, Earl, later wrote “Uncle Tom’s oldest boy was named Francis, and he and I were about he same age. We used to play together a great deal, and in back of our home there was a little hill that we called ‘Flint Hill’ where we did a great deal of playing and gathering arrowheads. We called it ‘Flint Hill’ because of the arrowheads that were there.”
Three more sons were born to Tom and Luella before 1896. Mark was born on December 24, 1892, Roy on March 19, 1895, and Lee on December 29, 1896. Then, in 1897, Tom was called to serve on a mission to the Southern States, leaving Luella with four small children to care for by herself. Tom first served as a missionary in Louisiana, arriving there on January 31, 1898. After completing his mission, Tom returned to his family and again worked hard to improve his farm. Tom and Luella’s only daughter, Mary Louise, was born on April 10, 1901, and then their last son, John, was born on January 14, 1903.
In later years, Mary Louise recalled that there were originally three rooms in their house with another room added later. She said that all the children slept in one room with a curtain hung to separate her from her brothers. She remembered that the children had only one pair of shoes each year which had to be saved as much as possible for Sunday. She said that times were hard and she didn’t know how her father did it, but on her eighth birthday he surprised her with a piano. It was always a source of joy to her.
Tom and Luella had one serious worry in their life. Their son Mark had terrible headaches and was not well. He died in 1911 at the age of 18.
Tom’s time was spent not only farming, but also doing carpentry work. He was an excellent carpenter and built many of the granaries in the Webber community. He also helped build some of the houses and barns.
Tom and Luella were well liked by their friends and neighbors. One nephew, Dean Halls, said “I was in their home many times. Aunt Luella made the best apple pies with good thick cream on them. She was a wonderful woman, and we loved her with all our hearts.” Another nephew, Earl Hammond, recalled that “whenever Uncle Tom came to our house, he wanted a spoon and had to have a bite of sugar. He really liked his sugar.”
Platt Hammond, a son of Luella’s brother, John, had many recollections of his Uncle Tom. He wrote “The first thing I remember of Uncle Tom was when I was just a small boy. On Sunday mornings Uncle Tom left for church long before his family. He walked and would stop in the homes along the way. He always had rock candy to hand out to the children. He loved children, especially babies. He would always pick them up to love them.”
”Uncle Tom put up the crops on my father’s ranch for a number of years. I was sent down from our summer mountain home to help. I remember how Uncle Tom saw that we young kids didn’t work until we were tired. He would stop everything and give us a rest, even if it looked like rain.
“One time Uncle Tom and I were sent as home missionaries down at what was then called Juitte on the San Juan River. We traveled by team and buggy. I was worried about what I could talk about at the meetings. I asked Uncle Tom for help. He must have helped me a lot because I was congratulated on the fine talk I made. Tom wasn’t much of a talker, but was a great student and had a great knowledge, not only of history and current affairs, but knew the scriptures as well as any man.”
“He was a good carpenter and was always ready to help anyone with their buildings. He built a granary for Father and took the time to show me how to use the steel square. It helped me in later years in my building. Tom helped me as he did many others in solving their problems. He was a quiet man who never got excited. All the time I was with him I never saw him show anger when he had cause to do so.”
A story is told about an experience that Tom had with Luella’s brother, John Howard Hammond. Once while John was attempting to break some horses, he was thrown into a ten-foot deep arroyo and the horse fell on top of him. He was unable to move and his legs felt as if they were broken. He was a mile from home and knew that he must get help soon so he called upon God to help him. Immediately the weight of the horse seemed to be lifted from him. Three quarters of a mile away, John’s brother-in-law, Thomas Halls, sat in his home with the doors closed. He seemed to hear John’s call and said to Luella, “Something wrong with John.” He got up and in the darkness went directly to where John lay. He assisted him home and secured a doctor.
Tom and Luella served their church in many ways. Luella worked in the Primary and in the Relief Society, serving as Relief Society president about 1915. In addition to serving his mission, Thomas was bishop of the Mancos Ward from May 22, 1911 until December 30, 1917. The Mancos Ward records during these years record the many meetings over which Thomas Halls presided.
Sometime after 1915, Thomas and Luella moved from their ranch to a house closer to town. They had lived there but a few years, however, when Tom died on January 12, 1918. Death came quickly to him, for he was at his woodpile chopping wood when he was struck by a heart attack and died. Luella lived in their new home for four more years, when she died on August 7, 1922.
The Mancos Times published their obituaries, part of which read “The Mancos Community was shocked at the sudden death of Thomas Halls--one of our best and most highly esteemed citizens. He died suddenly at his home in the Webber Community. Mr. Halls, it appeared, had gone out to chop some wood about 10 o’clock and soon was discovered by members of the family laying prostrate on the ground. Medical aid was at once summoned, but to no purpose as death from all indications had come instantly. Heart failure was adjudged the cause of death and it is known that he had 2 or 3 attacks previously, but had caused the family no special alarm as they were light. His sudden death came as a great shock to his family and friends.”
About Luella the following was written: “On Monday night Mrs. Halls departed her life at her home in Webber Community making lives lonesome and hearts sad and leaving a vacancy that can never be filled. She died of a trouble of long standing after all that it was humanly possible to do had been done for her comfort and relief. A fitting and appropriate funeral service was held at Webber Hall Tuesday afternoon and the body was laid to rest by that of her husband in the Webber cemetery.”