Again we associate three brothers together in the ministry, each of whom has made an honorable record. Their parents, who were earnest Christians, settled in Vanderburgh county, Indiana, in 1819. Three years afterwards the father died. The opportunities for early education in a new and sparsely-settled country being very meager, the entire training of the children devolved on the widowed mother, a woman possessed of a good, well-cultured mind, and, far better, of earnest piety. Daily were he children upborne on the arms of faith and prayer to the divine throne. God honored her faith. She lived to see all her children, eight in number, five sons and three daughters, hopeful Christians, three sons entering the ministry [Rev. Ebenezer W. Hall, Rev. Benjamin Hall and Rev. Ephraim Hall] and two becoming ruling elders.
REV. BENJAMIN HALL was born in Surrey county, England, December 20th, 1808, and was eleven years old when his father located in Vanderburgh county. Then the city of Evansville was composed of less than a dozen houses, and the remainder of the county was desolate in proportion. Before he was sixteen years old he professed religion at McAlister's camp-ground and united with the church. Dr. James Johnson and Rev. Aaron Shelby, with elders David Negley and Jesse McAlister, were the persons present on this interesting occasion of his life. Being impressed that it was his duty to preach the gospel, he offered himself to Indiana Presbytery as a candidate for the ministry, and was accepted, October, 1832. In April of the following year he was licensed at Princeton. He traveled as a circuit preacher two years, and was then ordained, April, 1835, in the court house at Petersburgh. He was first placed upon a circuit in the central portion of the State, and then upon one extending through the counties of Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh and Warrick. This was a delightful work in which he enjoyed many precious seasons of refreshing. He then labored in Knox county till 1842, when he accepted a call to the pastorate of the Newburgh congregation, in which position he remained till 1864. He removed to Iowa and located at Waukon, where he served as pastor of the church for eleven years. His residence is still there, but he is employed as Missionary of the Synod of Iowa.
Such a record indicates that much might be said in praise of the man who, by the grace of God, has been enabled to make it, but his career is not yet closed, and they who shall survive him may pronounce the eulogy upon his life which it has thus far so richly deserved.
[Source: Cumberland Presbyterianism in Southern Indiana: Being a History of Indiana Presbytery and an Account of the Proceedings of its Fiftieth Anniversary Held at Princeton, Ind., April 13-18, 1876, Together with Various Addresses and Communications, and a Sermon on the Doctrines of the Church. Compiled and Arranged by Rev. W. J. Darby and Rev. J. E. Jenkins. Indianapolis: Printed at the Printing and Publishing House, Published by the Presbytery, 1876, pp. 60-61.]
Photograph made on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary
of the Presbytery
at Princeton, Indiana April 13, 1876.
The four men above were early members of Indiana Presbytery.
Left to Right: Rev. James A. Ritchey, Rev. Hiram A. Hunter, Rev. Benjamin Hall, Rev. Ephraim Hall
There are a few men who have "shone" even here "as stars" of the first magnitude. Their lives, like the planets, have seemed to reflect the light of the Sun of Righteousness. They have been, like Jesus, not only "bright" but "morning" stars, telling of the dawn of a glorious and eternal day. Such was Brother Hall's life. The whole of north-eastern Iowa has been permeated by the godly and consecrated life of our departed brother.
He has had a remarkable career. Had he lived till April he would have finished fifty-four years of active work in the ministry. He often said he would like to "die in the harness," and he thus died. At the close of his last sermon, on "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" he dropped in the pulpit, lingered a few weeks in his bed, and then departed to be with his blessed Master forever. Except of Brother Ritchey, he was the oldest of the early members of Indiana Presbytery. He organized the congregation at Vincennes, which now numbers over three hundred communicants. He was pastor of our Church at Newburg for twenty-two years, and the whole of southern Indiana is full of his praise. He was a man who bore acquaintance, and hence his long pastorates. No other man ought to find a place in the ministry. Were this the case we would have fewer short pastorates and weak congregations. Of course there are exceptions to this rule; there are circumstances in which a pastor is in duty bound to change his field of labor, but I still contend that if we had fewer men whose character can not bear a long acquaintance there would be fewer changes and stronger Churches. Some men may have a pure name, and yet because of some subjective peculiarities which throw them out of harmony with their environment, may have to relinquish the field. Blessed is the man who finds his people, and whose people find their pastor.
Father Hall, as he was called, removed from Indiana to Waukon, Iowa, not only because he was impressed with the needs of the field which he had visited, but also because his health was on the decline at Newburg. He has lived here (Waukon) for twenty-three years, sixteen of which he was the devoted and much-beloved pastor of this people. The remainder of his days in Iowa were spent as missionary of Iowa Synod. The whole of north-eastern Iowa was his field latterly, and it seems as though he had preached in nearly every school-house in it.
There was one thing, among many others, that I like in Brother Hall. He was a help instead of a hindrance to me as pastor of this Church. It is well known that pastors sometimes suffer untold agonies because of some whining, critical ex-preacher in the congregation. I have heard of and known such cases. Father Hall was the very opposite of this. He was one of the most liberal-minded men I have ever met.
He was a pupil of Scotch Smith, and, if I mistake not, was led into the ministry by his tutor. He was a warm admirer of Mr. Smith, and often spoke of his remarkable conversion and marvelous power as a preacher. He must have imbibed much of the spirit of his teacher. He was possessed of the most persuasive earnestness, I think, I have found in any one. His last appeal to sinners was at the close of a remarkable sermon on the conditions of eternal life; at the end of which he dropped of exhaustion-"in the harness." Thus he died, at the ripe age of seventy-eight. He had finished his course and kept the faith.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, April 14, 1887, page 2]
"Another great man has fallen." I made the acquaintance of this dear brother at a meeting near his home in Vanderburg county, Ind., in October, 1830. He had not then entered the ministry, but was an active worker in the Church. Soon after this he joined presbytery as a candidate for the ministry, and commenced his preparatory studies under the Rev. Hiram A. Hunter, one of our leading ministers in Indiana. Brother Hall made such rapid proficiency in his studies that he was licensed to preach the gospel in the spring of 1833, and placed on a circuit. The timid young man soon grew into the popular young preacher. Just two years after his licensure he was set apart to the whole work of the ministry. Without any seeming effort on his part he soon came to the front both as a presbyter and a popular preacher. His first settlement was in Knox county, were he remained only a short time, but laid the foundation for large work in that county.
About 1837 Brother Hall was called to Newburg, where there was a small congregation without a house of worship, and without much drill. Here Brother Hall did his grandest work in Indiana. He remained here about twenty-one years. Besides his pastoral work at home he did a large work throughout the presbytery. The ministers and Churches were always glad to have the services of Brother Hall at their revival meetings. He supervised the erection of Delany Academy, over which that grand man, Dr. A. Freeman, presided so long. This school gave us our first impetus in Indiana. Many of our ministers commenced their course of study here, and many now in business life were in this school. A large brick church was also erected here during Brother Hall's administration.
I must not omit to mention that these improvements were made largely through the liberality of that grand old patriot A. M. Phelps, who lately passed over. They were true yoke-fellows. Our dear Brother Hall has fallen, but the work goes one. He fought a good fight-he finished his course.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, April 21, 1887, page 4]
Hall.-The death of the Rev. Benjamin Hall suggested to the citizens of Newburgh, Ind., a memorial service, which was held in the Cumberland Presbyterian church of that town Sunday morning, March 27. Many of Mr. Hall's old friends and brethren were present, and participated in the service. The opening prayer was offered by the Rev. Mr. Pewitt, of the M. E. Church, and after a song, speeches were made by the pastor, M. L. Galloway, the Rev. Mr. Pewitt, Mr. T. P. Gunnill, of the M. E. Church, Elders C. F. Hopkins, William Butterworth, and George Smith, and Mrs. C. E. Hopkins and Mrs. M. J. Parsons. After these speeches a brief funeral oration was delivered by J. E. Bates. The music was so selected and rendered as to suggest the deceased and his former associates with this people. The service was highly appreciated, and seemed to engage the attention of the entire congregation.
J. E. Bates.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, May 5, 1887, page 8]
[Source: General Assembly Minutes of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1887, page 15]
One of the sweetest experiences of my life was to be associated with the subject of this brief sketch. I have had the fortune to succeed him in two pastorates-at Waukon, Ia., and Newburg, Ind. For nearly a year I lived in his cozy home, and on the most sacred and intimate terms with "Father Hall," as everybody called him. He was an ideal retired minister in his relationship to the inexperienced young incumbent, and never shall I forget his words of wisdom and sympathy in many a dark hour when beset with problems that try young pastors. I lamented his departure as did Elisha that of Elijah, and felt that, for the time being, my sun was eclipsed. The last text I heard Bro. Hall quote in the pulpit was in our revival meeting, just five weeks before he died, and the very night he took sick with the congestive chill which resulted in his death. The text was, "If we are sober, it is for your cause." I well remember how he exhorted the unconverted to be as earnest about their eternal interests as he and other Christian workers felt on their behalf. The last text he quoted on this earth was shortly before he died, as I stood alone by his bedside, with his hand in mine. A peculiar light that seemed to have suddenly burst through the gates ajar lit up his face as he looked earnestly at me and said: "Brother Gold, there is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. No condemnation." He was a very strong believer in the substitutionary nature of Christ's work for him, and he died in the sweet peace for that assurance. He was nothing, but Christ was all. Brother Hall had a voice of marvelous volume and under wonderful control for a man nearly 80 years old. It used to flood me with a strange enthusiasm when all at once, from his place at my left hand, there would swell forth one of those grand crescendos, at some favorite place in the hymn, for which he was noted.
He was twenty-two years pastor here at Newburgh, Ind., where his memory is still blessed, and sixteen at Waukon, Ia., as active pastor, besides seven years of service throughout the State, during which time he lived at Waukon. Thus the community was blessed with his influence twenty-three years. He was a great lover of children and very popular with them. He enjoyed a laugh exceedingly. He had a way of opening his mouth and without making a sound, could laugh most heartily. He was full of anecdotes of early camp meetings here in Indiana-many of them pathetic and not a few of a droll nature.
He received his theology from Scotch Smith, with whom he labored, and for whom he had a profound reverence. At our old people's meetings at our church here Brother Hall's name is always mentioned with reverence and tenderness.
He was born in beautiful Surrey, England, on Dec. 20, 1808. At the age of 10 he came with his parents to Southern Indiana. He died at Waukon, Ia., after having preached the gospel fifty-two years, on March 18, 1887. I preached his funeral sermon from 2 Tim. Iv. 7: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
Blessed be the memory of this sainted father in Israel.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, August 27, 1896, page 7]