Biography of George W. Hill

George W. Hill, Postmaster at Harmon, is a distinguished figure in his town’s public and political sphere and a successful merchant, originating from Fall River, Massachusetts. Born to George and Margaret Hill in 1848, he overcame the early death of his mother at less than three years old. Hill moved away at 12, worked various jobs including mining and carpentry, and established his general merchandise business in 1877. He self-educated in evening schools and accumulated substantial property through his business endeavors. Married to Gula Elma Porter, they have six children. An active Republican, Hill has held several public offices, including Postmaster during multiple administrations. Mrs. Hill is a Methodist Episcopal Church member, while Hill is not affiliated with any religious or secret organizations.

George W. Hill, Postmaster at Harmon, is the oldest settled merchant in the town, carrying on a well-conducted general merchandise business, and is a prominent figure in the political and public life of the place. He is a native of Massachusetts, born in Fall River, with his father’s residence located on the state line of Rhode Island. He was born on October 18, 1848, to George and Margaret (Whittle) Hill. His ancestors were originally from the North of Ireland and settled in New England in early Colonial days. His father was a soap manufacturer and pursued that occupation all his life. He was twice married. His first wife, the mother of our subject, died in 1850, leaving behind three children — William J., a resident of Belfast, Ireland, where he represents a wholesale hardware firm as a general salesman; Thomas, who is a postal clerk at Frostburg, Md.; and our subject, who is the youngest of the three. The father married a second time and reared a family.

Our subject was less than three years old when he suffered the sad loss of his mother. He continued to live in his native city until he was twelve years old, and at that early age, he went out into the world to fight the battle of life single-handed. He accompanied his brother Thomas to Monongahela City, Pa., and there his brother subsequently enlisted as a soldier to help fight for the preservation of the Union in the Civil War. George, who had previously worked in the coal mines of that city, then went to Frostburg, Md., whence he came to Illinois at a later date. He first stopped near Eldena, where he worked as a farmhand for two seasons. The following two seasons, he was employed in the same capacity near Harmon. After that, he worked at the trade of a carpenter until 1877. In the month of April that year, he took a new departure by establishing himself as a general merchant at Harmon, and is still carrying on a flourishing business at this point, which has contributed in no small degree to the good fortune of the village in its steady growth.

Mr. Hill, although he began life with no moneyed capital, is one of the substantial men of this section. He has, besides a goodly amount of property in the village, including his store building and residence, one hundred and sixty acres of fine land on section 25, and eighty acres on section 23, Harmon Township, and all this he has accumulated since he entered business in 1877, scarcely fourteen years ago. He is likewise self-educated principally, as his schooldays were limited in his boyhood, but he subsequently made up for his early deficiencies in that line by studying sedulously at evening schools. Besides his present business, he was at one time a partner in a hardware concern at Harmon.

Mr. Hill was married on November 1, 1871, to Miss Gula Elma, daughter of James Porter, Jr., one of the early settlers of Lee County. She was born at Dixon on February 9, 1850. The following is the record of the six children that have blessed her marriage with our subject — Elmer, who was born on October 6, 1872, was graduated from the business college at Dixon in 1889 and is now in the store with his father; George M. was born on February 26, 1874; Gertrude I., on June 17, 1876; Arthur, on July 31, 1880; Clarence, on January 29, 1882; and Gula Elma, born on October 19, 1891.

Our subject’s fellow citizens, rightly judging that a man of his mettle possesses sound qualifications for responsible offices, have often called him to assist in the management of public affairs. Thus, he has been Secretary of the Committee of Harmon Township; he has been Collector three terms, and one term represented his township on the County Board of Supervisors. He has always been a steadfast advocate of the policy of the Republican party and has frequently taken part in the councils of his fellow Republicans as a delegate to county, district, and State conventions. He was Postmaster at Harmon during the administrations of Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur, stepped out when Cleveland was in the Presidential chair, but was re-instated when Harrison became the head of the Government and has been so since 1889, Notary Public, receiving the appointment from Gov. Fifer. He is a man of correct habits and upright principles but is not a member of any religious denomination, and neither is he connected with any secret society. Mrs. Hill, who shares the respect in which her husband is held, is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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