Albion Interactive History / People / Delos Fall

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People / Albion College

Dr. Delos Fall, 1848
Professor of Chemistry


Fall was born January 29, 1848, in Ann Arbor. He was a twin and that his twin brother was DeWitt D. Fall who lived in Jackson in the early 1900’s.

Delos and DeWitt were born the sons of Benjamin F. and Ann M. Fall of Ann Arbor. The father’s grandfather was a very special kind of Englishman: a soldier in the British army who settled in America after the Revolution.

After public school in Ann Arbor, Delos attended the University of Michigan one year before starting to teach in Ann Arbor High School. He completed college at the university in 1875, receiving the bachelor of science degree.

After college he became a principal of a Flint high school, a post he held for three and a half years before arriving in Albion in 1878 to accept the professorship of natural sciences. Ten years later his title was changed to that of professor of chemistry.

After four years at Albion and seven years after receiving his B.S. degree, Fall received an M.A. degree from the University of Michigan. Sixteen years later, Albion College awarded him a doctor of science degree in 1898.

The next year he ran for public office, the state superintendent of public instruction, and won. If fact he won by a margin hereafter than that of any previous candidate for the job. He was re-elected in 1901, and it was during his administration that the state legislature passed enabling legislation for the centralization and consolidation of public school. Another law which established county normals was passed.

After his sojourn in public office he resumed the teaching of chemistry at Albion and continued the work until 1919, the year his successor, Dr. David Lindsey Randall arrived.

Dr. Fall was a member of many organizations and groups and at one time was president of the State Teachers’ Association. In 1886 he was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It is reported he served on the state board of health for twelve years, was a member of the American Public Health Association and the National Conference of Boards of Health,. He also at one time was a member of the Albion city council and the city board of health. He was a contributor to educational journals.

On July 24, 1877, the year before he came to Albion, Delos Fall and Miss Ida Andres were married. They had four sons and a daughter: Frank Andrews Fall, Allan Percy Fall, Mark Fall, Florence Fall, and Donald Mac Fall.

A Methodist, Prof. Fall was a lay delegate in 1904 to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. He also was a member of the Masonic Lodge.

Source: Gildart, Robert. Albion College, 1835-1960, A History. Chicago: Donnelley Lakeside Press, 1961.

Hon. Delos Fall, M.A., Sc.D.

Hon. Delos Fall, educator, lecturer and author and now Superintendent of Public Instruction in Michigan, stands to-day as one of the most distinguished champions of the public school system in America; and certain advance movements which he has inaugurated are regarded by many as the most progressive steps that have been taken along the line of public education in a quarter of a century. His professional connection, aside from his official services, is that of Professor of Chemistry in Albion College. As a writer and lecturer he has attained distinction in the literary and scientific world and he has been the promoter of legislation which has had a far-reaching and beneficial effect upon the schools of Michigan.

His ancestral history is one of long connection with America and her interests on both the paternal and maternal sides. His paternal great-grandfather came to America as a British soldier in the Revolutionary war, and after the close of hostilities remained to make his home in the new world. His son, Daniel Fall, the grandfather was born in Connecticut, March 1, 1780, and became a pioneer settler of Monroe county, New York. He married Hannah Treat, and in their frontier home Benjamin F. Fall, the father of Professor Fall, was born March 12, 1810. He removed to Michigan, settling in Washtenaw county, near Ann Arbor, about 1836. Mr. Fall was a blacksmith and worked at his trade for many years. Later he took up his abode in Ann Arbor, where his death occurred in 1869, when he was fifty-nine years of age. He was a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal church of his locality and took a prominent part in its work, filling its various official positions and co-operating in all the branches of the church work. His home in an early day was always open for the reception of the pioneer ministers. He was also prominently identified with the Masonic fraternity, its tents concerning the brotherhood of man, appealing to him strongly.

The mother of Professor Fall was born near Mendon, New York, January 12, 1813, a daughter of Henry and Dorothy (Sackett) Bassett. He father was a son of Henry and Mary (Percy) Bassett, the latter a daughter of Sylvanus and Abigail (Durien) Percy, and a granddaughter of Lord Percy of England, who was a member of one of the most distinguished and forceful families, according to history, in England. Henry Bassett, grandfather of Professor Fall, bore a Christian name which was also borne by his father and grandfather. The family was established in New England during an early epoch in the colonization of the new world and the first Henry Bassett was a soldier of the Revolutionary war. Henry Bassett, the grandfather, and Dorothy Sackett, were married in 1797, and it was their daughter Ann M. who became the wife of Benjamin F. Fall. Her death occurred in Albion in 1899, when she was eighty-six years of age. She had three children who reached mature years. The eldest son, Charles S. Fall, was a soldier of the Civil war and received from Congress a gold medal in recognition of bravery displayed at the battle of Spotsylvania Court House. He is now living in Los Angeles, California. Delos and DeWitt C. Fall are twins and the latter is now a resident of Jackson, Michigan.

Professor Fall pursued his early education in the “lower town” school at Ann Arbor, also attended a country school and subsequently continued his studies in the Ann Arbor high school. In 1870 he matriculated in the University of Michigan and after studying there for a year engaged in teaching for one year in the high school of Ann Arbor, thus continuing a work which he had begun in connection with the district schools of that locality. Returning to the University he was graduated with the class of 1875, at which time the degree of Bachelor of Science was conferred upon him.

Following his graduation Professor Fall went to Flint, Michigan, as principal of the high school there and remained for three and a half years. He was then called to Albion College, in the fall of 1878, as Professor of Natural Sciences and filled that chair until 1888, when he was elected Professor of Chemistry in the same institution and has since held that chair. The growth of this department under his guidance was so great that in 1893 the McMillan chemical laboratory was built. It is one of the finest and most modern buildings for the purpose, in the state and the building is entirely devoted to chemical uses. It was erected by Senator James McMillan at a cost of forty thousand dollars, including the equipment. This laboratory has become well and favorably known throughout the country and aside from analytical and compound work, is doing a large amount of work in Portland cement, marls, clays, and peat, and also in the examination of flours and other food products. Here is carried on a large amount of water analysis, sanitary and quantitative. Professor Fall has thus not only become widely known as a leading educator but also as an analytical chemist, who is regarded as an authority on chemical analysis. He does a large amount of work in this line not only in Michigan but also in many other states throughout the Union. In recognition of his special work the degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him in 1882 by the University and in 1898 he was honored by Albion College with the degree of Doctor of Science for twenty years of capable service. He is now the senior professor in the college.

Professor Fall’s labors have been of the utmost practical benefit in the educational field. Education is the basis of industrial success. Without the hand disciplined to execute, and the mind trained to plan and direct, the industrial organization of the modern commonwealth could not exist. The state recognizes this, not only in its watchful care and endowment of its public schools but in the higher institutions of learning that have been established for both mental and manual culture. It is this consideration that has always entitled the founder of a great school or a distinguished educator to special honor, and in this connection Professor Fall well merits the position of prominence which he holds in the public regard, and the honors that have been conferred upon him in the state and country. He has been very active and prominent in association work and was at one time president of the State Teachers’ Association. For many years he has been a member of the National Educational Association, of which he is now the vice president. In 1886 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the most important organization for the benefit of science in America. He is well known as a writer, has been a frequent contributor to educational journals and is the author of “Qualitative Chemical Analysis,” which has been well received.

For twelve years Professor Fall was a member of the Michigan State Board of Health with which he was prominently identified as an active worker. He was largely instrumental in placing on the statute books the law relative to the teaching of methods concerning the spread and prevention of contagious diseases in the public schools. It was also during this period that he was a member and active worker of the American Public Health Association and the National Conference of the Boards of Health. About the same time he wrote and lectured to a considerable extent on sanitary science and some of his writings have been copied into the sanitary journals of the old world. His labors in this direction have been effective in promoting health conditions in Michigan.

Along other lines Professor Fall has put forth earnest effort for community interests and the welfare of his city. He has been a member of the common councils of Albion and was a member of the board of health of Albion for twelve years. He ahs ever stood for improvement in educational lines and during his connection with the school board marked advance was made as the result of his efforts. In 1899 he was nominated and elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction for Michigan, – an election that was extremely complimentary for he received the greatest number of votes ever given a candidate for that office in Michigan, his majority being almost one hundred thousand. He entered upon the duties of the office on the first day of the twentieth century and was re-elected in 1901, also by a very large majority. During his incumbency marked advancement has been made in connection with the work of the office, especially along the line of rural schools. The laws were perfected whereby the centralizing and consolidation of rural schools was made possible, thereby increasing their proficiency. At the suggestion of Professor Fall there was also a law passed by the Michigan Legislature for the establishment in each county of a County Normal Training Class in which the teachers of rural districts are given professional instruction, and as a result of this they return to their schools prepared to do much more effective, practical and valuable work than heretofore. This is considered by many, one of the most far-reaching and beneficial results brought about during the last quarter of a century for the improvement of rural schools. A large part of the duties of the state superintendent are in connection with the state board of education, of which he is an ex-officio member and secretary. During his administration as superintendent of public instruction, there have been notable additions made to the buildings and equipments of three normal schools of Michigan and the fourth school of this character has been established, known as the Western State Normal School, located at Kalamazoo. Judged by what he has accomplished in the line of educational advancement, Professor Fall well merits the honored position which he occupies in the public regard.

At Flint, Michigan, July 24, 1877, Professor Fall married Miss Ida Andrews, and they have five children: Frank Andrews, Allan Percy, Mark, Florence and Donald Mac. Professor Fall is a member of Murat lodge, F. & A.M., and he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. He has served on its board of trustees, has been superintendent of the Sunday-school at different times and has taken a very active and helpful part in the church work. He was a lay delegate to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church, held at Los Angeles, California, in 1904. He has ever borne himself with such signal dignity and honor as to gain the respect of all. His life work form as an important chapter in the history of educational progress in the state and he has wielded a wide influence along other lines of advancement, particularly of moral growth and legislative accomplishment. His strong mentality, invincible courage and determined individuality have rendered him a natural leader of men and a director of public opinion.

Source: Hobart and Mather. Biographical Review of Calhoun County, MI. April 1904.