Benjamin Homer Hall
Papers, 1795-1884


Quantity: 1 box and 6 extra-large folders (ca. 0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Purchase; George Halbert; June 1937; accretions of single accessions 5131 and 12985, May 2007.
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, May 2007; revised August 2015.

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Biographical Note:

Benjamin Homer Hall, Lawyer and author, was born at Troy, NY, November 14, 1830, a son of Daniel Hall and Anjinette (Fitch) Hall. He was prepared for college at private schools and at Phillip’s Andover Academy, and was graduated from Harvard in 1851. On the completion of his college course he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1856, and engaged in the practice of law at Troy. He was City Clerk in 1858 and Chamberlain of Troy from 1874 to 1877 and again from 1884 to 1885. A building erected at corner of First and River streets in Troy that bore his name for many years before being called the Rice Building.

Hall was widely known as an author and historian. His most significant works were A Collection of College Works and Customs (ca. 1850), History of Eastern Vermont, from its Earliest Settlement to the Close of the Eighteenth Century(1858), and Bibliography of the Unites States (1860). From April 1878 to August 1880, he was the editor of the “Troy Morning Whig.” On June 1, 1859, he married Margaret McCoun Lane, daughter of the late Jacob L. Lane, of Troy. Benjamin H. Hall died April 6, 1893.

Daniel Hall was born July 17, 1787 in Westminster, Vermont, the son of Lot and Mary (Homer) Hall. After he graduated from Middlebury College in 1806, he moved to Troy, New York to study law under William M. Bliss.  John P. Cushman and William L. Marcy also studied law under Bliss at the time.  Hall was admitted to the bar in Troy, 1809, and then appears to have commenced practice with Bliss and others. Later, he appears to have established practice on his own as well as becoming secretary of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Insurance Company and director of various banks. At the time of his death his was the oldest name born on the rolls of the Rensselaer County bar.  He married Anjinette (Anjenith) Fitch in April 1819.  They had at least 8 children. He died December 19, 1868 at Troy, New York.

Scope and Content Note:

A series of letters and other papers related to personal, family, and business interests of Benjamin Hall and his father, Daniel Hall. Among the letters addressed to Daniel Hall are four items from Amos Eaton, noted geologist and founder of Rensselaer Institute. The letters concern property insurance for the buildings and grounds of Rensselaer Institute. Other notable correspondents of Daniel and Benjamin Hall include Edward Everett, William H. Seward, Hamilton Fish, Robert Todd Lincoln, Horatio Seymour, William L. Marcy, John E. Wool, and Asa Fitch.  These letters concern matters of business, education, law, politics, and government.

These papers also include two other original manuscript letters of Amos Eaton that were not specifically addressed to Daniel or Benjamin H. Hall.  First, a lengthy letter to his wife, Sally Eaton, dated February 7, 1814 that was written while he was in prison. (In 1811 Eaton was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned on charges of forgery in a land dispute.  See the Amos Eaton Papers for further details.).  This letter details his experiences of imprisonment. Second, a letter addressed to the Reverend Dr. Coe, J. Cushman, and others, dated November 9, 1819, in regards to his religious beliefs.  

Another letter of significance that is not addressed to members of the Hall family was authored by Jacob Whitman Bailey (1811-1857), who was professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology at U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.  He was noted for pioneer research in microscopy.  The letter, dated September 7, 1835, was addressed to his mother, Jane Whitman Keely, wife of George Washington Keely, a professor at Waterville College (later Colby College), in Waterville, Maine.  Jane Whitman was first married in 1810 to Isaac Baily, who passed away in 1824. She was married to George Keely in 1829.  The letter itself concerns personal and family matters.

Ancillary papers include a poem about Amos Eaton that was probably penned by Benjamin Homer Hall, and a diary attributed to Daniel Hall, which details his travels in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in 1808.  The journey entailed travel by boat on the Hudson and Delaware rivers and overland by stage. Another interesting item is a signed copy of the constitution of the Philonomian Society, a legal debating society, formed “for the purpose of facilitating our progress in legal knowledge, of creating a laudable ambition among the Students and of cultivating friendship and harmony.”  The constitution is dated at Troy, November 27, 1807, and bears the signatures of 19 members, including Reuben Hyde Walworth as secretary.

The papers also include broadsides and printed circulars relative civic, educational, and political organizations.  One of the broadsides relates to a meeting of Federalists held in Troy in April 1821.  Another broadside printed at Vergennes in 1901 relates to “A scheme of exercises at the public exhibition in Middlebury College, Vermont on May 5th, 1801.” This program included Latin and Greek orations, as well as orations on genius, the progressive improvement, the propensity to admiration, and on immortality of the soul, as well as several dialogs of an allegorical character.  Still another broadside contains rates of toll on Fort Miller Bridge about 1861.

Container List

Box Folder Description
1 1 Letter of Amos Eaton to his wife, Sally Eaton, February 7, 1814, written while he was in prison. With transcription.
1 2 Letter of Amos Eaton to the Reverend Dr. Coe, J. Cushman and others, November 9, 1819; re: his religious beliefs and thoughts on Christianity.  With transcription.
1 3 Letters of Amos Eaton to Daniel Hall, 1824-1841; re: Troy Insurance Company and Rensselaer Institute. 4 items. With transcription.
  1. Troy, [N.Y.], November 2, 1824
  2. [Troy, N.Y.], February 4, 1825
  3. Troy, [N.Y.], October 28, 1825
  4. Troy, [N.Y.], April 19, 1841
1 4 Letter of John Lyman to Daniel Hall. Woodstock, [Vermont], February 17, 1819.
1 5 Letter of Edward Everett to Daniel Hall, March 6, 1835; re: politics and Daniel Webster.
1 6 Letters to Daniel Hall, 1854; re: politics and government. 4 items.
  1. William H. Seward, Washington, [D.C.], December 5, 1854
  2. Hamilton Fish, Washington, [D.C.], December 26, 1854
  3. Hamilton Fish, Washington, [D.C.], December 26, 1854 (copy) w/ attached note of December 27, 1854 and franked envelope addressed to Timothy Hall of Westminster, Vermont
  4. Hamilton Fish, Senate Chamber, December 27, 1854
1 7 Letters to Benjamin H. Hall, 1855-1884. 7 items.
  1. A. Bruyn Hasbrouck, New York, January 10, 1855
  2. H.B. Stanton, Seneca Falls, [N.Y.], May 21, 1855
  3. George Van Santvoord, Troy, [N.Y.], May 24, [1855]
  4. John E. Wool, Troy, [N.Y.], November 30, 1863
  5. George W. Curtis, North Shore, Staten Island, [N.Y.], March 15, 1868
  6. M.F. Maury, Washington,[D.C.], June 3, 1884
  7. Robert Todd Lincoln, War Department, Washington, June 22, 1884
1 8 Letter of Asa Fitch to [Benjamin H. Hall. Salem, N.Y., May 13, 1874; written on printed form letter related to the history of the Fitch family by Asa Fitch, M.D.
1 9 Letters of Horatio Seymour to Benjamin H. Hall, 1881-1884. 13 items
  1. [n.p.], April 4, 1876
  2. Utica, N.Y., February 26, 1881
  3. Utica, [N.Y.], July 25, 1881
  4. Utica, [N.Y.], April 4, 1882 w/letter to B.G. [Snyder?], April 4, 1882
  5. Utica, [N.Y.], February 7, 1883
  6. Utica, [N.Y.], March 5, 1883
  7. Utica, [N.Y.], August 20, 1883
  8. Utica, [N.Y.], August 29, 1883
  9. Utica, [N.Y.], January 30, 1884
  10. Utica, [N.Y.], February 20, 1884
  11. Utica, [N.Y.], April 17, 1884
  12. Utica, [N.Y.], October 30, 1884
1 10 Letters of Benjamin H. Hall to C. E. Dudley Tibbits, January 24, 1882.  re: business matters. 2 items (12985)
1 11 Letters of William L. Marcy to Jacob L. Lane, 1822-1823. 6 items
  1. Albany, August 2, 1822
  2. Albany, March 5, [1823]
  3. [n.p.], May 1822
  4. [n.p.], May 16, 1823
  5. [n.p.], [1823?] (summary accounts 1819-1823)
1 12 Letter of Whitman [Bailey], West Point, N.Y., to mother [Jane Whitman Keely], September 7, 1835.  Addressed to Mrs. Prof. G[eorge] W. Keely, Waterville, Maine.  Concerns personal and family matters.
1 13 Albany Mayor, license to Schuyler and Cuyler Co. to sell liquor, July 2, 1795; also, Albany Commissioner of Excise, license to John I. Cuyler to sell liquor, April 9, 1799. 2 items
1 14 Constitution of Philonomian Society of Troy, November 27, 1807.
1 15 Diary of Daniel Hall, re: travels in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, commenced at Troy, N.Y., commenced May 17, 1808. 15 p.; 7 cm. (5131)
1 16 Poem about Amos Eaton, n.d.; [Benjamin Homer Hall?]. With transcription.
1 17 Dummerston [Vermont] town records, 1771-1776, copied by B.H. Hall, Westminster, Vt., 1851. 2 v.
1 18 Printed Circulars, 1851-1883. 6 items.
  1. “Ode for the supper of the class of ‘51” (Benjamin H. Hall was a graduate of Harvard College, Class of 1851.)
  2. Class of 1851 [Harvard College], Cambridge, [Mass.], July 1855
  3. Harvard college, the Boston Harvard club, July 10, 1855
  4.  “The Suffrage Question in Relation to Colored Voters in the State of New York,”
  5. Citizens’ Committee on High License, 1888
  6. Civil-Service Reform Association. 1883
-- -- New York (State) Comptroller. Bill against Daniel Hall, November 16, 1818. (This document reported as missing from papers, October 1957)
    Extra-Large documents
EL 1 Broadside: “A scheme of exercises at the public exhibition in Middlebury College, Vermont, on May 5, 1801”
EL 2 Broadside: “Federal meeting. At an uncommonly numerous and respectable meeting of the Federalists in Troy … on April 11, 1821”
EL 3 Broadside: “Fort Miller bridge. Rates of toll.” Troy, N.Y., [1861]; attached is an affidavit of Daniel Hall, October 14, 1861
EL 4 Broadside: “Chancellor Lansing’s third letter …  New York, April 1807”
EL 5 Deed to Jonas C. Heart by Brigam [sic] L. and Rebecca Eaton for lot in Troy, October 10, 1835.
EL 6 Map of Lowell, late Kellyvale, Vt., n.d.
Last Updated: September 28, 2015