Frank L. Hall, 1897-1899

by Bradley Hofmann  

            Frank L. Hall was born on June 10, 1865, in Warren County, Illinois in Coldbrook Township, located just north east of Monmouth. His parents, Michael Hall and Candis Miller, were both natives of Barren County, Kentucky. Michael was born on April 30, 1837, and Candis on December 16, 1843. His father moved to Monmouth in 1846 where he pursued the occupation of a farmer and a stock raiser. As of 1877, Michael owned seven hundred and forty acres of land in section eighteen of Monmouth. This land held a value of slightly over 44,000 dollars. Michael raised and fed an annual average of one hundred cattle and two hundred hogs. Candis, like most wives of her time, was a stay-at-home mother. The 1880 census list her as being a “housekeeper.”[1] 

The Hall household must have constantly been a bustling one in Frank’s childhood.  One thing for sure, he would have never had a lonely moment, considering he had a total of seven brothers and sisters. Frank was the second eldest, his brother Edson as three years the senior. After Frank it was George, born in 1870, Addie in 1872, Ella in 1874, James in 1878, Zoa in 1879, and Ward in 1885. Needless to say, Frank most likely had a heavy role in caring for his younger siblings, even though by the time is youngest brother was born, Frank was already out of the house, attending college.

During his childhood, Frank grew up on the farm and attended grammar school here in Monmouth. In 1881, at the age of 16, he left Monmouth to attend school.  He attended school at Abingdon College in Abingdon, Illinois. The school was shut down because of mainly financial problems in 1887, not many years after Frank attending school there.  At Abingdon he took what was described as a “special course”, most presumably a course in real estate considering would be his occupation after college.[2] Upon graduation; he had not only earned an education, but had also meet his future wife, Minnie. The two were married on December 31, 1884, in St. Louis, Missouri after Minnie’s completion of courses at Abingdon. Minnie Younkin, who was born in West Liberty, Iowa, on December 21, 1863, was the daughter of a well to do St. Louis family. Although her family lived in St. Louis at the time of her marriage, they were previously located in Abingdon, which of course was the place where she attended college. Her father, Dr. Edwin Younkin, was born on March 18, 1838, in Pennsylvania and died in Chicago in 1926. He was a Professor of Surgery in the American Medical College in St. Louis, not to mention he was head of the school of medicine. Her mother, Matilda, was a housewife. Minnie grew up in Indian Point, Illinois, located in Knox County, where she was received her rudimentary education until enrolling in college.[3]

After their marriage and completion of college, Frank and Minnie resided in St. Louis for two years. During these first few years of their new life, Frank was able to get his start in the real estate business, a profession he would continue throughout his entire life. In 1888 the two left St. Louis and came back to Frank’s original home and place of birth, Warren County, specifically Monmouth. 

Upon his return to Monmouth, Frank continued to practice real estate and also tried his hand at farming, as in fashion of his father and grandfather. At this point, Frank’s father was in the elder years of his life and Frank was starting to take over the family farm. In fact, in 1890, Frank is listed as a “cattle dealer” with no mention of real estate at all.[4 The two newlyweds made their home in town at 222 S. Center St which is now known as Sixth St.  In 1893 Frank’s occupation again shifted as he was then listed as a “horse dealer”. This is not the only switch in his life as he and Minnie moved from their house on Center St. to the former home of his parents, located at 312 S. 10th St. Although the move takes place, his home on Center St. is still listed under Frank’s ownership.[5] The next year of Frank’s life would be one filled with misfortune.  Although it seems his business is going well, in 1894 both his mother and father passed away. His father died on February 3 and his mother on December 3.[6] Both Michael and Candis are buried in Warren County at Mosher Cemetery along with several of Frank’s siblings. 

The Census of 1900 lists Frank and Minnie with three children in school: W. Edwin, born December 1885, L. Frances, born May 1888, and Margaret (?) born May 1891. 

A pivotal year in Frank’s life was that of 1897; however, unlike 1894, it would prove to be rather a positive moment in time as he was elected mayor of Monmouth.  On the night of May 3 he was inaugurated into office, taking over from former Mayor Lahann. The paper reported the event filled with excitement and enjoyment: “The room was filled before the hour arrived and the proceedings of the officers were watched by an audience that packed the room. The farewell speech of Mr. Lahann and the inaugural of Mr. Hall were both applauded.”[7] As mayor, Frank’s first line of business took place on that night with the naming of his officers who would help him run the city of Monmouth. He installed S. K. White as street superintendent, E. C. Linn as Health Officer, J. Ed Miller as City Engineer, a position that would hold great importance during Frank’s term as mayor, Reverend A. Johnson as oil inspector, and finally J. T. Hartman, G. Webb Morrison, and C. G. McPherren as police.[8] The naming of these officers held quite a bit of anxiety before its announcement, however, all of them were passed unanimously.

Mayor Hall’s next order of business as mayor was to figure out the financial situation for the city. The previous administrations had left the city with a slew of money problems. On the night of May 4, the day after his inauguration, there was a conference that lasted till midnight to work on the city budget. Later that month the fiscal budget was eventually calculated at $44,623.70. This was the total amount of money that would be received from the collection of taxes.

The money the city had to work with was tight; however, this did not stop Mayor Hall from making vast improvements to the city. One of the mayor projects undertaken in his term was the paving of streets. The first came in late May when on the 25th two ordinances were passed for the paving of sections of both “A” Street and 1st Avenue.[9 These two ordinances were merely the first of many in like fashion that would greatly improve the travel conditions in Monmouth. While in office, the city council passed a total of eight ordinances dealing with the opening and paving of roads in Monmouth: on July 13, 1897, an ordinance for the opening of W. 4th Ave, on September 28, 1897 for the paving of W. Broadway in district twenty-four, on October 16, 1897 for the paving of N. Main Street in district twenty-five, on October 22, 1898 for the opening and expansion of S. “G” Street, and in December of 1898 two ordinances for the opening and extension of W. 3rd Street and S. “C” Street.[10] During these years, the people of Monmouth pushed for the improvement of street conditions, Mayor Hall and the Board of Improvements for the city, which he served on himself, answered the call generously.

Working with roads was not the only way Mayor Hall was able to physically improve the condition of the Monmouth; he was also very active in installing permanent sidewalks. These ordinances calling for construction of sidewalks do not come until 1898, but when they did come they were numerous. The first, which came on April 21, called for construction of five foot wide sidewalks on sections of N. Main Street, W. 4th Avenue, and W. Broadway.  Then again on May 14, 1898, the town council passed an ordinance for sidewalks on W. 6th Avenue, East and West Archer Avenue, E. 1st Avenue, E. 3rd Street, S. 10th Street, and East and West Broadway. On September 17 another one is passed for construction on S. 1st Street, N. “H” Street, and more on Archer Avenue. Finally the last ordinance of these kind on October 22, 1898, which provided many more sidewalks for sections of W. Boston Avenue, E. 2nd Avenue, S. 1st Street, E. 1st Avenue, S. “D” Street, S. 6th Street , N. “A” Street, and N. 2nd Street.[11] So just as vehicular travel was improved, pedestrian travel was also considerably improved during Mayor Hall’s term.

Along with the all the construction on streets and sidewalks, Monmouth was in need of improvements in the sewer system. Mayor Hall was not one to neglect these needs. On June 11, 1897, the city council passed an ordinance for the building of a sewer between Main Street and 8th Avenue, between 8th Street and S. Main Street, between S. “A” Street and 8th Avenue and 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue, between S.  “B” Street and 8th Avenue, and lastly one between S. “D” Street and 8th Avenue. This was the first of two ordinances providing for the construction of sewers. The second would come on September 5, 1898.  It was not as massive as a project as it only called for the addition of sewers for S. 4th Street, nevertheless, during his term as mayor, over five thousand feet of sewers were added to Monmouth, quite a successful project.[12]

As far as legislation went during Mayor Hall’s term, the most frequently touched upon subject was that of alcohol. Frank was never hesitant to control the sale of alcohol, and, in fact, it was one of his first actions in office. Just a little over a month after taking office, Frank and the city council passed an ordinance that greatly regulated the sale of liquor. This ordinance stated that anyone providing liquor without the proper license would be fined twenty to fifty dollars, anyone caught serving to minors would be fined fifty to one hundred dollars, and anyone selling liquor on Sunday would be fined one hundred dollars.[13]  There were other changes made in the ordinance, but these three were the main concerns. It is uncertain, however probable, that these restrictions came out of a response by the town council to an incident in May of 1897 when three Monmouth saloon keepers were indicted by the Grand Jury for selling liquor to minors.[14] Many other ordinances dealing with alcohol would come during Mayor Hall’s term, most of them dealing with changes in fines and stimulations with selling or distributing liquor; however, one important change made was that the city council was given the sole right to distribute liquor licenses. This issue of liquor must have been an important one to Mayor Hall as his last two ordinances dealt regulations on liquor. 

There were several other ordinances of significance during his term, although they were not made as frequently as sidewalk construction, road paving, and liquor laws, they were still important. Some of these dealt with the setting of wages for city officials. The first ordinance passed under his administration, May 4, 1897, set an annual wage of two hundred and fifty dollars for the City Engineer and provided the position with four dollars a day for special public improvement projects. On May 2, 1898 a similar ordinance was passed giving the City Engineer a raise of two hundred and fifty dollars to put his annual salary at five hundred dollars. One can only speculate that this came out of all the hard work that this position must have demanded with the paving of many roads, building of many sidewalks, and construction of many sewers. The other ordinances of importance included allowing the Henderson County Telephone Company the right to put up poles and wires anywhere in the city as long as they did not interfere with traffic, which was passed on July 5 1897; the creation of a City Collector to collect any special taxes passed on December 7, 1897; the assigning of uniforms for almost all public offices passed on August 12, 1898, and also several laws dealing with the sale of cigarettes on July 13, 1897 and February 6, 1899. [15]

Mayor Hall’s two year term ended on the night of Tuesday May 1, 1899, when his successor, Mayor Sawyer, was inaugurated. The city council room was once again filled for the event, as it was two years before at his own inauguration. The paper summarized the evening by stating, “An era of good feeling seemed to prevail in the city council room last night.”[16] The regular business of the meeting took place and then Mayor Hall gave his farewell address to the crowd. In it he talked about his accomplishments during the last two years focusing on the remarkable turn around in the financial situation of Monmouth. When he came into office there was a shortage of over 13,000 dollars and when he left, there was a surplus of 3,000 dollars. He also recommended that a new water works building be constructed immediately.  The existing one was insufficient, and unfortunately, he was unable to have one built during his term, although he had attempted some improvements in water works. He was said to have “retired gracefully”, and for his service, was awarded two nice leather chairs by his gratefully city council and fellow town officials.[17]

After his term as mayor ended, Frank continued to work in farming and real estate. It appears that around this time, year or two after his term ended, he was able to open his own real estate company. In 1901, he is listed in real estate and also with two new addresses.[18] Not only did he move to 413. S. Main St., he opened a business located in the area of the city square. In 1903 Hall is still listed to have a real estate business located in the city square, however, he is also taking up residence in Des Moines, Iowa.[19] This is a critical transitional period in Hall’s life as these were his last days in Monmouth. He was still a comparatively young man in 1901--forty-six.

The reasons for the move were not known at the time; moreover, he kept his business open for several years after his departure. On February 28th of 1902, a “small uproar” was heard in Monmouth in result of a piece of information about Hall. It appears that a short time after their move to Des Moines, Frank and Minnie had gotten a divorce. This was shocking news to the citizens of Monmouth who had no idea of the situation and had just received word that a license for marriage at been issue to Hall. The reasons for Minnie and Frank’s divorce is also unknown, however; it was stated that the divorce was granted to Minnie and that the whole situation was kept a secret. The marriage between Frank and his second wife, Jessie McCrery, took place on February 27, 1902. After the ceremony, the two left Chicago for their honeymoon in California.  Frank and Jessie would have their first of three children in 1905--Dorothy.[20] 

            Frank L. Hall’s legacy lived on in Monmouth well after his departure from the city in which he lived and served. During his stay at Monmouth he was active in many parts of his life. He and his wife were members of the Christian Church.  It was said that Hall also helped organize the Warren County Printing Company, the company that later printed the Daily Review Atlas. He was part of the Democratic Party in Monmouth and when elected mayor, it was said that his office was a success, and that he served as what would be the “model mayor.”[21] In fact, in 1900, before his move to Des Moines, Hall was even elected as a candidate for the office of Presidential Elector for the Democratic Ticket. He however did not win, but the nomination itself was an honor. Hall was also an active member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and above all was “popular in many social and business circles.”[22]

            On August 30, 1927, the headline of the paper in Monmouth read, “World Flyers Reach Belgrade”, however, for many citizens of Monmouth the real story was inside the paper:: “Frank L. Hall. Former Mayor Dies at Des Moines: Frank L Hall, former mayor of this city, passed away yesterday[23] afternoon at two o clock in Des Moines according to word received by relatives. His health had been poorly for some time as he suffered from an inward goiter and about a week ago he underwent an operation. Mr. Hall will be remembered by many Monmouth people as he resided here a number of years ago and was mayor of the city from 1897-8. He is survived by his wife and several children. Funeral services will be held Wednesday morning at ten o clock in Des Moines.”[24]


Brad Hofmann wrote this biography for his historiography class at Monmouth College under the direction of William Urban.

[1] 1880 Federal Census of Warren County Illinois, Volume 11.

[2] Portrait and Biographical Album of Warren County, Illinois (Chicago: Chapman Brothers. 1886), 554.

[3] 1870 Federal Census of Knox County, Illinois, p 5.

[4] Monmouth City Directory, 1890-1891.

[5] Monmouth City Directory, 1893-1894.

[6] Tombstone of Michael and Candis Hall.

[7] The Monmouth Reviews. May 4, 1897.

[8] The Monmouth Review. May 4, 1897.

[9] Monmouth City Hall.  City Council Ordinance book. Monmouth, Ill. 1897.

[10] Monmouth City Hall.  City Council Ordinance book. Monmouth, Ill. 1897.

 [11] Monmouth City Hall.  City Council Ordinance book. Monmouth, Ill. 1897.

[12] Monmouth City Hall.  City Council Ordinance book. Monmouth, Ill. 1897.

[13] Monmouth City Hall.  City Council Ordinance book. Monmouth, Ill. 1897.

[14] The Monmouth Review. May 6, 1897.

 [15] Monmouth City Hall.  City Council Ordinance book. Monmouth, Ill. 1897.

[16] The Monmouth Review. May 2, 1899. 

[17] The Monmouth Review. May 2, 1899.

[18] Monmouth City Directory, 1901-1902.

[19] Monmouth City Directory, 1903-1904.

[20] Moffit Books. Vol  7. Old-timer’s Columns. 1911-1913; the Census of 1900 shows Jessie, aged 27 (born May 1873 in Illinois), living with her mother, Effie McCrery, age 63 (born March 1837 in Illinois) in Monmouth.

[21] The Historical Encyclopedia of Warren County, Illinois, 830.

[22] The Historical Encyclopedia of Warren County, Illinois, 830.

[23] His death actually occurred two days before the listing of the obituary; the census of 1930 lists Jessie M. Hall living at the same address (value $5000), with a roomer (a college teacher), and her daughter, Dorothy M, who was a public school teacher.

[24] The Monmouth Review. Aug. 30, 1927; the information about several children seems to be an error: the census records of 1910 and 1920 locate him in Des Moines, Iowa, with only one child--Dorothy. The 1920 census, taken 5 January 1910 gives her age as 15, thus making 1904 the most likely birth date; the 1930 census was taken in April, thus making the birth day after that month. Social Security records list a Dorothy M Hall (born 10 July 1904 in Des Moines, died 23 May 1997).