Biography of George W. Hill
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George W. Hill. As the nation grows older more and more honor is paid the men who offered their lives as sacrifice to the preservation of the Union in the dark days of the ’60s. One of these veterans still living in Champaign County is George W. Hill, whose life since the war has been one of peaceful industry as a farmer and he is now enjoying a well earned retirement at his home in the village of St. Joseph.
He was born at Paola, Orange County, Indiana, February 22, 1840. It will be noted that his birth occurred on Washington’s birthday and he was given the name of the father of his country. His parents, Erasmus and Huldah (Fawcett) Hill, were both natives of North Carolina and were early settlers in Indiana. George W. Hill received his education in a subscription school known as the Prospect School, kept in an old log schoolhouse. He grew up in Indiana, and was twenty-one years of age when the war broke out and he volunteered his services, enlisting in Company B of the Twenty-fourth Indiana Infantry. He enlisted at Orleans, Indiana, went South to St. Louis, up the river to Jefferson City, on to Sedalia, and from there to Springfield in the southern part of the state, returned to Sedalia and at St. Louis again took boat and went down the Mississippi to Cairo, Illinois, and from there proceeded up the Tennessee to Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, while Grant was waging his tremendous campaign around those outposts of the Confederacy. The record of his service introduces many of the most notable battles and landmarks of the Civil War. After the fall of Fort Donelson he went to Pittsburg Landing, then to Corinth, to Memphis, crossed the river and participated at Ball’s Bluff, a campaign in which his regiment did a great deal of skirmishing, and was also in that victorious engagement for the Union arms at Grand Prairie, Arkansas. Another river journey took them to Helena, Arkansas, where Mr. Hill and his comrades were encamped when the news of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was received. The next movement was down the Mississippi to the campaign around Vicksburg. He and his comrades marched around Vicksburg to Grand Gulf and fought at Port Gibson, later at Campian Hills in the rear of Vicksburg, and then followed the real siege of the Mississippi stronghold. He was also at Jackson and in the ten days of continuous fighting around Vicksburg. After the fall of that city his regiment was sent down by river transport to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on to New Orleans, and participated in the Red River expedition. On returning to Algiers, Louisiana, Mr. Hill reenlisted for three years or the war. He spent thirty days’ furlough at home and again started South to Evansville, Indiana, where he took boat for New Orleans and then crossed the Gulf to Pensacola, Florida. He was in the noted engagement at Fort Blakely, one of the posts guarding the city of Mobile, and did considerable duty until that last southern stronghold was vanquished. The troops then went up to Selma, Alabama, from there to New Orleans, and again crossed the Gulf to Galveston, Texas, where Mr. Hill was mustered out. Thus he gave four years of service of almost continuous fighting and marching during the war. Though in almost constant danger he sustained only two slight wounds, one in the hand and one in the ankle. His two brothers were killed in the war, Alonzo at the siege of Vicksburg and Eli at the battle of Lexington.
On April 13, 1879, on Easter Sunday, Mr. Hill married Miss Sarah E. Butts. She was born at Winchester, Indiana, in 1857, a daughter of Oscar and Catherine C. Butts. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Hill rented a farm at Homer in Champaign County and they continued the active life of farmers for many years.
Mr. and Mrs. Hill have one son, Oscar A. Hill. He is a young man of more than ordinary attainments and abilities. He graduated from the high school at St. Joseph, was given a diploma as a teacher, and spent several years in that work. His first school was the Beverlin School and later he taught the Wilson School and Zion School. For a number of years he was also in the employ of Charles Dale, editor of the St. Joseph Record. From an early age he has been interested in electricity and he helped install the electric light and telephone systems at St. Joseph. He afterwards went to Florida, where he did electrical work, and also edited a newspaper known as the Lake Wales News. He is now connected with an electrical company at Akron, Ohio. Among other talents he is a noted musician, and while living in Champaign County took instruction from Professor White of Champaign. He is known as a composer of several popular melodies, two of the latest being “The Blue and the Gray” and “Stand by the Stars and Stripes Forever.” Another song which gained much popular favor is entitled, “Is This the Road to Heaven?” Thus his life has been filled with interesting activities. He distinguished himself as a teacher, being an excellent disciplinarian as well as a thorough instructor. As a musician his services were much in demand as a choir leader. At the dedication of the fine Christian Church at St. Joseph he led the choir of sixty trained voices. In token of appreciation of his services in this way the church made him a present of a fine ring. While living in Florida he married Catherine Hickman.
Mr. and Mrs. Hill are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at St. Joseph, and in politics he is a Republican, though a man of broad views, and supports the principles rather than the party. He is identified with the Grand Army of the Republic, and Mrs. Hill is a member of the Royal Neighbors.