Charles Francis Hall, an American arctic explorer, born at Rochester, N. II., in 1821, died in Greenland, Nov. 8, 1871. A blacksmith by trade, he finally became a journalist in Cincinnati. In 1859 he went to New York, and at a meeting of the geographical society offered to "go in search of the bones of Franklin." Funds amounting to about $1,200 were raised for this purpose, and in May, 18G0, he set out from New London on board a whaling vessel commanded by Capt. Buddington, with whom he was associated in his subsequent expeditions. The whaler having become blocked up by the ice, Hall resolved to make himself acquainted with Esquimaux life. He fell in with two natives, Ebierbing and his wife Too-koolito, who had some years before visited England, where they acquired the English language. They became greatly attached to him, and were his constant companions to the close of his life. Hall remained with the Esquimaux more than two years, acquiring their language and adopting their habits; and although he learned nothing of the fate of Franklin's men, he believed it to be probable that some of them might still survive.
He made his way back to the United States in September, 18G2, accompanied by Ebierbing and Tookoolito, and devoted the next two years to the preparation of his book, "Arctic Researches, and Life among the Esquimaux " (New York, 1804), and to making arrangements for a new expedition. He set out upon this, July 30, 1864, on board a vessel commanded by Buddington, expecting to be absent about two or three years; but he did not return until late in 1869. He kept a full journal, with the intention of preparing it for the press after he had made one more voyage of discovery; it was never done, and of this ex-pedition only a few fragmentary accounts have appeared. By this time it was clearly ascertained that none of Franklin's men could be living, and Hall labored to induce the government to fit out an adequate expedition, the special object of which should be to reach the supposed open polar sea, and if possible to go to the north pole. Congress having made the requisite appropriation, a steamer was purchased, fitted up for the purpose, and named the Polaris. The expedition was placed under the general command of Hall, Buddington going as sailing master. There were also several scientific associates.
The Polaris sailed from New York June 2D, 1871, and on Aug. 22 reached Tessuisak, the most northern settlement in Greenland, whence on the 24th she steamed up Smith sound, and on the 30th readied lat. 82° 16' N., probably the most northern point yet attained. The channel was blocked up by ice, and the Polaris, by the advice of Buddington and contrary to the judgment of Hall, turned back, and was laid up for the winter in a sheltered cove, to which the name of Polaris bay was given, lat. 81° 38' N. On Oct. 10 Hall with three others started on a sledge expedition, which went within a few miles as far north as the Polaris had reached. He returned on the 24th, and was immediately seized by an illness from which he partially recovered; but a relapse took place, and he died in a few days, probably from apoplexy. There were some suspicions that he had been poisoned, but these do not appear to have been well founded. The command now devolved upon Capt. Buddington. The Polaris lay in winter quarters until August, 1872, meantime suffering considerable injury from floating ice. It was then determined to return, and for weeks they tried to work their way through the ice pack. On Oct. 15 the Polaris was in imminent peril, and preparations were made to abandon her.
The boats were put on the ice, with many stores and 19 of the crew; but before the rest could be landed the vessel broke loose and drifted away, leaving these 19 on the ice, under the charge of Capt. Tyson. They drifted back and forth for 195 days, but generally southward, and were only saved from starvation by the skill of Ebierbing as a seal hunter. This party was picked up, April 30, 1873, by the Tigress, a Nova Sco-tian whaling steamer, in lat. 53° 35' N., having drifted helplessly nearly 2,000 miles. The Polaris meanwhile, entirely disabled, found a refuge near Littleton's island, and those who remained built a hut on the shore, where they passed the winter. In the spring they built two boats from the boards of the vessel, in which, early in June, 1873, they set sail southward. The hulk of the Polaris was given to a band of Esquimaux; but she afterward drifted away and went down in deep water. This party was picked up, June 23, by a Scottish whaler, and conveyed to Dundee, where they arrived Sept. 18, whence they returned to the United States. - See "Arctic Experiences," edited by E. Vale Blake (New York, 1874).