Woman of the Century/Mary Hall

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HALL, Miss Mary, lawyer, born in Marlborough, Conn., in 185-. She was the oldest MARY HALL.jpgMARY HALL. daughter of Gustavus Ezra Hall, of Marlborough. The original Hall ancestor was John Hall, of Coventry, Warwickshire, England, who came to this country with Governor Winthrop in 1630. Her girlhood was spent in the old homestead with one sister and five brothers. Miss Hall was graduated in the Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, Mass., in 1866, and taught in that institution for several years, later filling the chair of mathematics in Lasell Seminary. During a summer vacation in July, 1877, she began her legal studies. Her intention was to enter her brother Ezra's office as a student, but his sudden death, in November, 1877, frustrated all her plans. John Hooker, reporter of the Supreme Court of Errors for Connecticut, at that time became interested in her career, and in April, 1878, she entered his office to continue her studies. In 1879 Miss Hall was appointed a commissioner of the Superior Court, and for this her papers were endorsed by the late Governor Hubbard, United States Judge Shipman, and other eminent men. It was the first time such an honorable appointment had been given to a woman in Connecticut In March, 1882, Miss Hall formally applied for admission to the bar. The affair made a sensation. She took her examination in an open court-room, and not under the most favorable circumstances, but went through the ordeal with credit. The question of her eligibility was then submitted to the Supreme Court, and in July, 1882, a decision was rendered in her favor. She took her attorney's oath 3rd October, 1882, and was also made a notary public in the same year. Miss Hall's clients are usually women. She dislikes court practice and usually turns this work over to her brothers in the profession. For eight years she has been the sole woman lawyer in the State of Connecticut. The philanthropic work of Miss Hall deserves mention. During the winter of 1880 she gathered a few boys from the streets and read them stories, played games, or talked upon natural history, geology, or some other topic calculated to arouse interest and inspire observation and investigation. The boys were delighted, and she met them once a week, the number gradually increasing. They soon had to seek larger quarters, and in April, under her supervision, they organized, selected officers, and adopted a constitution and by-laws. The work widened, and several women came to her assistance. The plan had nothing in it of the day-school or Sunday-school, but simply to afford them entertainment and draw them from the bad life of the streets. They were instructed in good morals and the courtesies of life. The evenings had such attractions for the boys that they came with reinforcements, until again and again they had to seek for more commodious rooms. The name "Good Will Club" was adopted in 1880, with a badge having for a design a star and crescent. The work attracted the attention of gentlemen of wealth and influence, who contributed of their means, until now it stands upon a firm foundation. The Hartford Female Seminary building was purchased and fitted up at a cost of more than 125,000, and was dedicated on 22nd February, 1889. In 1890 the number enrolled was 846, and the largest attendance at any one time was 500. Miss Hall devotes her evenings to this work. She is a member of the First Congregational Church of Hartford.