A History of the
William Halls Family Organization
(or how this website and its proposed book came into existence)
by Alan J. Phipps (-Pearl-Wm Jr)
Genealogist for the WHFO since 1966
© 2011 Alan J. Phipps
(after the first mention of a descendant of William Halls in this article, the descent of that person from William is given; for example, Alan’s lineage is given after his name above, viz., that he is the son of Pearl Halls Phipps and grandson of William Halls Jr, and therefore the great-grandson of William Halls and Louisa Carritt Enderby Halls)
William Halls himself, with the financial help of some of his sons, carried out genealogical research in England by correspondence and left a written record of his life and what he knew of his ancestry before his death in 1920. He also penned an admonition to his posterity to carry on his work: “I desire my family to look after their dead, obtain their names as far as possible, and do work for them in the temple. If they neglect this work, they will stand condemned before God and their fathers.” (from p4 of “Autobiographical Sketch” in Selections from the Writings of William Halls)
William’s son John and John’s wife Minnie with help from their daughter Edna worked on the genealogy intermittently in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, but few records were available then and virtually no textbooks to offer guidance. By 1948 Rosabel Hall Ashton (-Mosiah),
acting for her father and uncles, represented the family to the Research Department of the Genealogical Society of Utah (now known as the Family History Library), whose research staff in Salt Lake City and in England were carrying out paid research in the family’s behalf. At that time William’s sons Mosiah, George, and John actively started fund raising among descendants to help support financially the family’s efforts. Mosiah died that same year, 1949, and was replaced by his oldest son, Ernest.
In 1952 the family was formally organized with Ernest M. Hall (-Mosiah) as president, Glenn E. Halls (-Earl-Wm Jr) as vice-president, G. Raymond Hall (-George) as second vice-president, and Florence Hall Bell (-George) as secretary-treasurer. Rosabel Ashton was genealogist, Nina Halls Braithwaite (-Wm Jr) temple chairman, Violet Hall Grix (-George) historian, and Evelyn Hall Ingalls (-George) assistant treasurer.
Article II of the Constitution and By-Laws of the Organization included among the “objects” of the group the “compiling of acceptable family records of [William Halls'] descendants and ancestors.”
By 1957 Rosabel and Nina had divided the genealogical duties between themselves, Rosabel taking the ancestry of William’s first wife Louisa Enderby and Nina taking the Halls lines. After Rosabel suffered a serious fall, Nina took over both duties from 1959 to 1966. At each annual family meeting, the genealogist(s) shared the reports of research with the gathered family. A few pedigree charts and family group records were generated in this period and were based on these reports. There was very limited distribution to the wider Halls Family of these reports except through brief summaries in the minutes of the meetings produced by WHFO Secretary Florence Hall Bell. These minutes were included in the announcements of the next family meeting sent to all those on the mailing list.
William’s sons by his second wife, Johanne Frandsen, had declined in 1949 to assist with the organization of the family at that time, explaining in a letter written by David Halls that they owed first a duty to their mother to carry out research on her lines. Present in 1954 at the annual meeting was Lewis Halls, Johanne’s son, who reported that he was in charge of the Frandsen research and was “doing very well with it”.
In 1966 Alan Phipps was elected “assistant genealogist” to Nina Braithwaite, but within the year they separated the duties into keeping track of William Halls’ ancestors, which Alan undertook, and his descendants, which Nina continued to do. Nina compiled family group sheets for each family as data was sent to her and kept them in binders in her home. She entered into extensive correspondence with many Halls family members as she tried to carry out the task of compiling a complete record of William Halls’ descendants.
Starting in the late 1970s, Mary Halls Quist (-Grace-Lewis and -Wm Mincher-Francis-Thomas) took over these records and retyped them to include annotations made over the years. They were further added to by Florence Halls Banwell (-Herbert), who was WHFO Historian 1987-1999. Florence also made large draft pedigree charts on poster board for some descendants as a visual aid.
As a BYU student 1965-1968, as time permitted, Alan carefully sifted through all the family’s records, including those kept by John and Minnie Halls over the years, comparing them with the research files in the possession of Frank Smith, in an effort to resolve discrepancies in the family records and to make sure all the known information had been posted correctly to family group records and pedigree charts. He also labeled and organized the records. In September 1968 he was drafted into the US Army and served in Vietnam from February 1969 until March 1970. Thereafter he returned to BYU on the GI Bill for his MA in English.
In 1971, after auditing genealogical research classes at BYU and in the process becoming an Accredited Genealogist for England, Alan asked for and received all the family research files compiled 1948 – 1966 by the Church’s Research Department, and after it closed, added to 1967 – 1971 by professional genealogist Frank Smith, who had been in charge of the research as a GSU employee from the fall of 1953 through 1966.
In 1972-73, while still a student but also a part-time genealogy instructor at BYU, Alan made a concerted effort to include all descendants of William Halls in the Family Organization by expanding the family’s mailing list, which in the past had contained mainly the descendants of just 3 of William Halls’ 19 children –Mosiah, William Jr, and George Henry — about 50 families. He made phone calls, wrote a great many letters, and traveled to meet family members, including his first-ever visit to Mancos. The mailing list was increased in size several times over and many new names added to the records of descendants of William Halls.
After many months of preparation, in August 1973 Alan Phipps finished and mailed out to this expanded mailing list the first edition of the family periodical, which was named “Through the Halls of History” at the family meeting that August 25th. The most members ever to attend a family genealogy meeting had gathered, representing 10 of the 17 children of William Halls with descendants. This first issue contained a questionnaire, item 9 of which asked about potential support for the possibility of a book “once all the descendants of William Halls are known”. The majority of respondents supported the idea of a book.
As the periodical had suggested, the family organization was re-invented at that meeting with new positions including a representative chosen from each branch to become the “family council”. No more than 5 branches of the family had ever been represented before at the same gathering, and usually there were just 3 — Mosiah, William Jr, and George Henry.
Kristine Halls Smith (-Lyle-Earl-Wm Jr) accepted the all-important duty of editor of the new family publication. From 1973 to 1984 her mammoth efforts produced issues 2 through 24 of the periodical, containing the biographies of William Halls’ three wives and all 19 of his children, the biography of William’s brother George, as well as charts of descendants of each of William’s children up to the time of publication, and genealogical reports from Alan Phipps.
From 1984-88 Conway Ashton (-Rosabel-Mosiah) took over the editorial duties and produced an additional six issues, 25 to 30, containing the biographies of 23 of William’s 88 grandchildren, often printing the copies at his own expense as a donation to the family organization.
By 1989, little new material for publication was coming in and financial contributions dropped off correspondingly. Many of the original family officers had died. Questions were asked about whether the family was getting too big for a meaningful organization to continue. Enthusiasm seemed to be waning. The next general meeting was not held until 1993, when similar questions were raised.
Genealogist Alan Phipps proposed at the 1993 meeting that a book be compiled containing the biographies and genealogies from the periodical but updated with new information and expanded to include more biographies of descendants and verified and completed genealogies.
The officers sustained in 1993 were Glenn Halls continuing as president, Fred Halls (-Harry-David) as vice-president, Conway Ashton as publications chairman, Alan Phipps as genealogist and editor of the book to be known as Through the Halls of History, Alan Ashton (-Conway-Rosabel-Mosiah) as secretary, and Margaret Halls (since Layh) (-WmMincher-Francis-Thomas and -Grace-Lewis) as treasurer. Florence Halls Banwell (-Herbert), present at the 1987 and 1988 meetings but not 1989 and 1993, was elected historian in 1987. The historian’s duties centered on keeping track of descendants. She continued to serve until her death in 1999.
Immediately after the 1993 meeting, Alan Phipps played with possible chapters for the book. In addition to William and George Halls’ ancestors and descendants, he felt that sharing the results of the genealogical searches in 167 Essex parishes searched over the years might benefit other Halls families.
Alan’s preliminary work on the book was interrupted in 1994 by family circumstances, which eventually resulted in his taking employment outside of genealogy to better support his family. This change included a job transfer to Florida. Alan took the research files with him, where he began inputting into a genealogical program the huge volume of material he had acquired and produced from 1971 onward, but he was unable to work on the book itself until his return in 1999.
In the meantime, Conway Ashton with the help of his family and especially Keith Halls (-Lowell-Franklin) scanned most of the content of the family periodical with the view to publishing in one volume the information as it appeared 1973-1988, with a few additional biographies of grandchildren of William Halls, but otherwise not updated or expanded except to make the biographies more uniform in size. With Alan’s return to Utah in 1999, this reprinting of the 1973-1988 material was halted so it could be updated and expanded, with original photographs and other material added rather than just the scanned copies.
Now, over a decade later, the book is still not finished. Why not? Here’s the story briefly.
March 27th Glenn is killed while attempting to fly his new gyrocopter.
The WHFO has not met since 1993, except for a special meeting about the book in 2001. Because the family had grown so large, encouragement was given for the branches of the family to meet as desired. Special occasions might still warrant future gatherings, such as to commemmorate the 150th anniversary of William Halls’ arrival in Salt Lake City on September 15, 1861.