Contra Costa County












            Contra Costa county has a rancher and land-owner in Myron Ward Hall, whose experience has been typical of the growing west, and who has not only worked his way from a very small beginning but has been able to give his children advantages which he never knew in his youth, and has established an enviable reputation for substantiality and personal integrity. Born in Erie county, Pa., May 5, 1831, he was reared on the farm of his mother, Mary G. (Ward) Hall. His father, Benjamin Hall, died of pneumonia two months before the birth of Mr. Hall, leaving a widow and six other children. The farm which he occupied was unpaid for at the time of his death, but his widow, with the assistance of her children as they advanced in years, succeeded in paying off the indebtedness after eighteen years of economy and great industry. At the age of six years Mr. Hall began attending the district schools three months in the summer. As he grew older his schooling was received during the winter months, and the remainder of the time was spent in assisting in the work of clearing and improving the home farm of one hundred and fifteen acres. At the age of eighteen he was apprenticed to learn the trade of cabinet maker, serving three years, his compensation for the first year being $30, the second year $40, and the third $50. With the first exodus from the peaceful farms of the east toward the little understood west, he conceived the idea of traveling thither and making his fortune, but no opportunity presented itself until the spring of 1853, when he met Lysander Stone, who had a large herd of cattle to transport across the plains. For his board and accommodations Mr. Hall consented to drive the cattle for this wealthy immigrant, stopping eighteen days in the Salt Lake valley, and thence traveling across the Rocky Mountains. Settling in Colusa county for the winter, he rented of his benefactor eighteen cows, which he drove to the mines of Shasta county, and during the summer sold milk and butter, receiving for the former $1 per gallon and for the latter $1 per pound. He also received fifty cents per gallon for all his buttermilk, and as well furnished some of the mining camps with bread. The summer proved a profitable one and in the fall he turned his attention to mining, but with indifferent success.

            In the fall of 1857 Mr. Hall returned to Contra Costa county and took up a quarter section of government land in Green valley. At the same time he and his brother-in-law, Austin Dorman, invested in dairy cattle, going in debt for the same, and remained in this work until 1861. In the meantime, in the fall of 1858, he returned to Pennsylvania, where, April 21, 1859, he was united in marriage with Lucy E. Dorman, the daughter of Edwin and Sarah (Brown) Dorman. About the 1st of May following he started with his bride to return to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. In 1861 Mr. Hall and his partner, Mr. Dorman, drove their cattle to Kings county, where all went well until the drought of 1864 killed off almost all of the stock. Out of a thousand head they found alive only one hundred and thirty-seven, and these were scattered over a range of two hundred miles, and brought their owners $17 per head. Then Mr. Hall turned his attention to grain raising. In 1870 he purchased of John P. Christman one hundred and three acres in Alamo township. This has since been his home. He has remodeled the buildings built by a former owner, added new buildings and general improvements, and now has one of the finest farms in this township. When he first located here he found fields of mustard waving in the breeze, and this he found hard to exterminate.

            Not only has Mr. Hall proved a model general farmer, understanding well the nature and possibility of his land, but he has rendered a notable service to the nut growers of Contra Costa county and vicinity. In 1872 he planted a number of fine young native walnut trees which have been grafted into a Persian walnut tree, and the success of the departure was not long in receiving confirmation. The yield of this single tree at maturity since 1900 has averaged one hundred and fifty pounds per season. In 1892 he grafted upon additional native trees the Persian walnuts, and now has as fine a nut as may be found anywhere in the world. He now has about one hundred trees. In earlier days people used to travel miles to see the new and strange experiment, but now the Hall Persian walnut has become a widely known marketable product. The trees bear prolifically, and are an enduring testimony to the patience, forethought and sagacity of one of the most honored pioneers of Contra Costa county. Mr. Hall has ever been public-spirited in the extreme, and has been depended upon to further with influence and substantial assistance any project of the improvement of the county. He is a member and past master of Alamo Lodge No. 122, F. & A. M., and with his wife and daughter is a member of the Eastern Star. He is also identified with the Grange and has done much to render this admirable organization a power for good to the farming community. Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Hall, of whom Jennie Alice was killed by the kick of a horse when four years old; Ida S., a teacher and graduate of the State Normal School at San Jose, is teaching; Benjamin Frederick, a graduate of the University of the Pacific, is a druggist of Palo Alto; Myron D., who was educated at the San Francisco Polytechnic School and at Stanford University; George E., a graduate of the San Francisco Medical College, is a practicing physician of Palo Alto; and Ward is perfecting himself as a civil engineer at the state university. All of the children have had college educations, and have been granted every advantage within the power of their ambitious and progressive parents to bestow. Mr. Hall is a typical representative of the solid, reliable and painstaking farmer of the west, a man of large heart, great good sense, and traits of character which have won him lasting friends all along the course of his life. Though a stanch Republican, he has never sought nor consented to fill political office. The keynote of his success has been the unflagging industry and economy which have characterized his labors throughout his entire life, and the record of his career should prove a source of pride and gratification to his descendants.  




Transcribed by: Cecelia M. Setty.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1108-1111. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Cecelia M. Setty.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library