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Lovell Hall

LOVELL HALL, A.M., LL.B., MIDDLETOWN: Attorney-at-Law.

Lovell Hall is a practicing lawyer at Middletown. He was born May 12, 1844, at East Hampton (town of Chatham), Conn., which is within the ancient limits of Middletown; and in these two places the family have lived for nine generations. His first American ancestor, John Hall, helped settle Cambridge, Mass., in 1633; Hartford in 1635, and Middletown in 1650. His great-grandson, Giles Hall, Esq., married a sister of Supreme Court Judge Jabez Hamlin, and their son, John Hamlin Hall, settled in the east part of his native Middletown, now East Hampton. Other branches of the family removed to Vermont, from whom sprung Hiland Hall, congressman, governor, and supreme court judge of Vermont, and U.S. commissioner to settle land titles in the (then) territory of California; and to New York state, whence General Amos Hall of that state. The whole family have always lived on the land, and been interested and informed on public questions, and often public men, when the surrounding population happened to hold views according with their own; which are public-spirited and thoroughly independent, based on experience, reflection, and reading, and not on appetite and clamor, and always heading the same way, no matter how the tide runs. It would be hard, perhaps, to find a family more uniform in many states and through nine generations, - books on the shelves and something on the table from the family orchard and garden. Mr. Hallís grandfather was a Baptist, that is, for religious toleration, - his father an abolitionist, Hiland Hall a free-soiler, long before the world wheeled into line, and would have continued had it not wheeled into line at all; and, had fruits not improved, it is probable that apples would be growing on the family property to-day, the descendants of cions brought by John Hall from England in 1633.

Mr. Hallís mother is from a Massachusetts family equally old; latterly, to a considerable extent, clergymen; they were, earlier, sea captains on Cape Cod, descended from Robert Lovell, who settled in Weymouth, Mass., in 1635 ; and this bent, to some extent, re-appears in L. N. Lovell, New York manager of the "Fall River Line" (steamers).

Lovell Hall was fitted for college in the Fall River high school, ranking first in his class, having spent his youth in East Hampton in the district school and at his fatherís farm and factory, where, and later, his hands have become familiar with every farm operation, and many of those of manufacturing, from using a pair of pliers to an engine or 52-inch Hoe saw. He has carried his dinner-pail to the brass shop and lumber woods, as well as eaten New England society dinners at Delmonicoís. In 1862 he stood first for one term in the class of 1866 at Wesleyan University, Middletown, and then entered the same class at Yale, with which he graduated. Here, as later in New York city, he cultivated his tastes in every direction, and is at least passable company for a great many different kinds of men. He was organist at the First Baptist church, New Haven, president of Linonia, a high oration man in scholarship, Townsend literary prize man, and divided the Yale literary prize medal; and contributed to the intellectual life of his class -ith such men as Geo. C. Holt of Pomfret, Prof. Hincks of Andover, Chas. H. Adams of the Hartford Courant, Judge John M. Hall, and others of his class. He also wrote the class song, and was active in founding the Yale Courant. After graduation he was tendered and declined a nomination to the assistant-professorship of ethics at the Annapolis naval school. His love and tastes drawing him rather to the old homestead and an open, country life, in 1866 he was acting postmaster and town clerk at East Hampton; in 1867 taught the principalís studies in a ladiesí school at Canandaigua, N.Y.; in 1868 entered Columbia College law school, New York city, graduating in 1870, meanwhile being admitted to the bar there on examination in 1869, and singing in St. Bartholomewís church. The years from 1870 to 1875 he spent at East Hampton, developing the family real estate under the new conditions of the Boston & New York Air Line Railroad, now the Air Line Division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, losing heavily and financially crippled by delays in its building, etc., but being the main instrument in locating its station to the convenience of the public and the family property, and confirming his health by air, labor, and horseback riding. Since 1875 he has been engaged in law practice at Middletown, beeping up oversight of the family farms at East Hampton - sometimes spending every night there. Here he is quietly developing a country home, such as old-time Connecticut professional and public men enjoyed. Choice poultry, registered Jersey stock that well know their masterís hand, smooth gardens and fruit trees for which he has cut the cions with his own hands from the tallest trees, and long distances away; wild berries with their flavor, forest flowers, nuts, brooks, and forest trees trimmed and culled to avoid crowding and monotony, are here. And the old brick oven, crane, and five-foot fireplace, are safe at least in his day. Here, one-half mile from the station on a main New York and Boston traffic artery, behind ancestral shade trees, with scores of neighbors in a stoneís throw, a hundred men might stand a siege of a hundred years against famine, pestilence, and a thousand human follies, and want not shelter, food, fuel, clothing, nor the outward ministrations to thought, nor the inner ones to beauty, while the waves of the world, its follies, fashions, prejudices, controversies, broke outside and sent within hardly a ripple. A visit is like what the Catholic clergy call a "retreat," and gives what Emerson sought when he wrote

"Good-bye, proud world, Iím going home."

And frequenting it for years, and may be generations, breeds those staying powers by which Mr. Hall has been able to work forty-two hours on a stretch, or walk twenty-five miles in a day.

Mr. Hall won his first case for the most unpopular man in Middlesex county against its two foremost lawyers, and has always taken a just case, no matter what the standing of either party.

In 1879 he was appointed prosecuting agent of Middlesex county, and so continued most of the time, and latterly sole officer until July, 1887, when he was succeeded by a more active party man. He carried out of office the hearty written endorsement of nearly every prominent and conservative man interested in that matter in every town of his county, save one, where there had been no call for his functions. At the close of his course he gained seventeen successive cases, - and lawyers know if that be easy, - and many sections of the statutes are in the very language prepared by him.

In 1883 Mr. Hall was appointed county coroner under the new law, and held that office two terms till 1889, the stateís attorney meanwhile going out of office, and judge dying who had caused his nomination and confirmation. In this office, under a new law which first gave that power and duty to a single man, he held Arthur Jackson for the suspected murder of Seymour A. Tibbals. In this case, Mr. Hall was petitioned against, caricatured, and the jailer finally served with a writ of habeas corpus to be heard by Chief Judge Park. The labor of defending this Mr. Hall escaped by working forty-two hours on a stretch, finishing his investigation, finding probable cause against Jackson (and others), and thus devolving the responsibility on other officers who released Jackson before the hour of hearing the habeas corpus. But Jackson, later, cut his wifeís throat, and it was generally conceded that he killed Tibbals.

Finding, at the end of his term, that others, more active politicians, were seeking the place, Mr. Hall made no contest for a further appointment, believing that the record of his painstaking cases and the fact that the medical examiners whom he had selected and for six years trained into the new law, were to a man re-appointed, was a sufficient endorsement, partisanship aside, of his career. He was succeeded as coroner by Stephen B. Davis, of Davis Bros., coal dealers, Middletown.

As a public officer, Mr. Hall considered each man as an individual to whom justice, restraint, or mercy, was due, and not the class, clique, or society to which he belonged. If he thought it his duty to strike, he struck, no matter how large a hornetís nest might be behind the offender. Though knowing well that the "popular" officer appears busy and dutiful by whacking the poor and isolated only, when a sense of duty had made him take hold, a sense of fear never made him let go.

His scholarship made him a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and he is a warm-hearted Psi Upsilon, but never carried his feelings towards those inside to the extent of injury to those outside. He was raised in the Baptist church, but attends in Middletown the old mother church (Congregational) founded by his ancestors. He has friends in all classes and churches, giving full appreciation, though by no means adhesion, to the Catholic church, the old mother of all, and values the table which she spreads for her sons, though himself choosing more modern housekeeping. Mr. Hall never looks down upon any class of men, though keeping out of the way of the filthy, drunken, and profane; and admires any man who has mastered his calling (if useful), no matter what it is. He has never aimed solely to attain "success," or to follow the various openings which might lead to it; but first to live the solid life of his fathers (having no brother with whom to divide it), and to do whatever else duty and opportunity may present beside.

Source:  Builders of Our Nation, Men of 1914 pub. Men of Nineteen-Fourteen, Chicago, Ill. 1915.

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