Home

 Biographies Index  

Contacts

 

California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
Sacramento County

 

THOMAS BERTRAM HALL

Those who are familiar with Captain Hall's association with the commercial advancement of Sacramento, those who had watched with keen interest his rapid rise from an humble position in an important wholesale house to the executive management of its entire field of enterprise, and those who recognized his keen, silent, unobtrusive but powerful contribution to civic prosperity, all united in bearing testimony to his ability, intelligence and patriotism. From the year 1869, the date of his permanent settlement in Sacramento, until his demise, which occurred in July, 1910, he was a contributor to movements for civic development, and by his high ideals of citizenship, acute powers of discrimination, recognized leadership and unceasing activity in the promulgation of progressive projects he won and retained the confidence of the people, particularly of that honored class of early settlers who were contemporaries of him and his colleagues in the substantial and permanent upbuilding of the city.

Born in Illinois January 4, 1853, Captain Hall entertained no recollections of the place of his birth, for he was only a few months old when his father, Richard Hall, brought the family to California and settled in Sacramento. Richard Hall was for some time employed as a workman in the building of the Folsom & Placerville railroad, the first in the entire state. Receiving no pay for his long and difficult work, he became indignant and determined to return to Illinois. Accompanied by his family he went to San Francisco and boarded the steamer Yankee Blade, on which he sailed down the Pacific ocean. When off the coast from Santa Barbara the ship was wrecked and the entire family had a narrow escape from death. Fortunately, however, they were rescued and brought to shore, and they then returned to Sacramento. Shortly afterward he bought a farm in Sacramento county, but in 1856 he removed to Solano county and took up a tract of raw farm land, giving his attention for years to the transformation of the property into a productive ranch.

After having completed the studies in the schools at Silveyville, Solano county, and later having taken a course of study in Heald's Business college of San Francisco, Thomas Bertram Hall returned to Sacramento in 1869 to establish himself in business. He was then sixteen years of age and his first work was as porter in the wholesale grocery of Milliken Brothers. His rise was almost spectacular. Within seven years the original members of the firm had retired and he himself had become the principal man in the business. The firm of Hall, Luhrs & Co., which began its existence with Mr. Hall as president, and continued without change in name or ownership up to the time of his death, has held a rank for years as one of the most successful wholesale grocery establishments in the entire state. In 1885 Mr. Hall joined Company E of the California National Guard, and soon he was elected captain of Company G, serving as such for ten years, when he resigned in order that others might enjoy the honor which he had himself highly appreciated. It is indicative of his character that he declined the commission with such generous forethought.

While he made it his practice to decline official positions, Captain Hall had served the state in an official capacity. Twice he was urged to become a candidate for mayor, one such occasion being in 1907, when Clinton L. White finally became the Republican nominee and won the race. At that time Captain Hall was a member of the city Republican central committee. He was credited with being the chief supporter of Benjamin F. Catlett for city trustee from the Sixth ward, after an exciting campaign against R. E. Callahan, then president of the city board. On various occasions Mr. Hall served as dele- gate to state and other conventions of the Republican party. Under Governor J. H. Budd he served as a member of the board of auditors to the state commissioner of public works, remaining on that board until Governor H. T. Gage superseded it with a new organization. Later Mr. Hall refused a similar position tendered him by Governor Gillett, but later on accepted the position under Governor Pardee, on his earnest solicitation. For years he was a member of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce. As a member of its citizens' committee he assisted in securing the Western Pacific railroad shops for Sacramento. He acted as one of the freeholders and assisted in the framing of the city charter. Scores of movements for the general welfare, particularly the campaign to secure pure water for the city, received his capable assistance. From the inception of the Orangevale Company he officiated as its president, drew the plans and was a prime mover in launching the gigantic work of subdivision, which is now transforming the Sacramento valley from a vast grain-field into many small farms. The opening of the Orangevale tract was a pioneer step in the important enterprise tending toward diversified farming, which rapidly is populating the heart of California. He was very active in the State Agricultural Society and was requested to accept a place as director, but he declined the honor, giving them, however, every assistance in his power. He owned a large farm at Marysville, devoted to dairying, and was a breeder of Holstein cattle. In Sacramento, March 25, 1876, occurred the marriage of Thomas Bertram Hall and Selina Agnes Govan, the latter born in Philadelphia, Pa. They became the parents of three children. The oldest daughter, Edna Bernice, died at the age of five years. The son. Ward E. Hall, is cashier of Hall, Luhrs & Co. The youngest daughter, Ethel Blanche, Mrs. Warren S. Reed, resides with her mother. Mr. Hall also is survived by two sisters, namely: Mrs. Edward Lemoine, of Melrose, and Mrs. Daniel Goe, of Hyampom, Trinity county. The family residence is an attractive place at No. 1031 street, acquired by Captain Hall during the early years of his successful business career and occupied by him and his wife thereafter. On July 2, 1910, he died suddenly from heart failure, when apparently he had been enjoying a very satisfactory convalescence after an operation and a long illness. Interment was made in the city cemetery under the auspices of Washington Lodge, F. & A. M., and Sacramento Commandery No. 2, K. T., in which he had officiated as eminent commander. He was also a member of Islam Temple, N. M. S., of San Francisco. While his life had contained little of the spectacular, it was nevertheless noteworthy, and his death was a distinct loss to the citizenship of Sacramento. As a member of that patriotic, loyal band of men who in the early days began the building of the city with a view to solidarity, he is entitled to an honored place in local annals and to the grateful remembrance of the generations that shall enjoy the fruits of his labors. 


Source:
History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011