OUR FATHER AND MOTHER
Note: William J. Hill and Mary Carnes Hill exchanged many letters during their courtship and marriage. Many of these letters have been preserved and can be found on this website. Click onLove Letters.
William Jasper Hill (1826-1862)
William Jasper Hill was the son of Winkfield Hill (1792-1841) who had come to White County with his parents, Thomas and Catherine Shropshire Hill, about the year 1805. They were among the earliest settlers in White County. There Winkfield Hill married Patsy Anderson. They were the parents of three sons and five daughters:
James Hill married Alice Lowery. Their children were:
Charles Lowery Hill, the eldest, after finishing his education at Burritt College, studied medicine and got his M.D. degree from the University of Tennessee medical school. He married the former Bessie Clark and he is in general practice in Nashville.
Effie Hill married Albert Moon. They had one child, Hubert Hill Moon.
Mattie Hill married J.M. Taylor. Their children were Charles Reece Taylor and Mary Alice Taylor.
Marie Ella Hill married Dr. D.A. Greer. They lived in Pikeville where Dr. Greer practiced medicine.
James Brents Hill became president of the L&N Railroad. His father, James Hill, was a merchant at Spencer and in connection with his business, he and his wife ran a boarding house where most all male students at Burritt College took their meals. He later moved his family to Doyle, White Co., Tenn., a station on the railroad running to Sparta. James Brents was fascinated by the trains passing and that is where he decided to be a railroad man. He learned telegraphy and by gradual stages of advancement, he became president of the N.C.&St.L. line and later the L&N. He held this position for many years until his health began to fail, and he resigned. He is now deceased.
Alice L. Hill
William R. Anderson Hill
Lola Estill Hill
Joab Hill continued to live in White County, where he raised his family. His son, George, served as sheriff of White County.
Hannah Hill died single.
Martha Hill married George Real of Delaware, Arkansas. They had two children.
Cynthia Hill married Dr. Henry Smith of Doyle. Their son Lee became a doctor of prominence and one time had charge of East Tennessee Mental Hospital.
Katherine Hill married Levi Kerr. Dock Kerr, her son, was once on the police force in Chattanooga. They had four other sons: Marion, Alex, Tom, and Bud.
Helen Hill married R.T. Moore. Their children were Ed, Tom, and Lex.
William Jasper Hill married Mary Carnes.
The writer of this history was only four months old when his father, William Jasper Hill, died and has no personal recollection of his personality, but the older members of our family remember him. He was above average in stature, with black hair and blue eyes, rather slender. It is presumed he attended public schools of White County and finished the course there as far as it went, which was very limited then. He matriculated a freshman at Burritt College when W.D.Carnes was president. He continued his studies there until he obtained his A.B. degree. He graduated in the same class with Mary Carnes, daughter of W.D.Carnes. These two, while associated in school, formed attachment for each other which grew until they married on July 22, 1854.
To this union the following children were born: Edwin Carnes, Lucius Davis, Ella, Dora, and William Walter.
After William J. Hill graduated from Burritt College he began to study law at Sparta. In a letter he wrote in reply to one he received from Mary Carnes, his intended bride, he told her that after reading her letter he had tried to study Blackstone but was so excited he found it impossible to concentrate, so gave up the effort.
He continued his studies after his marriage to Mary Carnes in 1854. They moved to Pikeville where he was admitted to the Bar in 1855. He and Uncle Erasmus Carnes formed a partnership in the practice of law and had a successful practice.
Mother said father was on the winning side of most every case he had; she said one would come to him to bring suit against another party for real or imaginary grievances. He would ask the client to state his case and if he thought he had sufficient grounds for a suit he would take the case. If not, he would tell the client he could not win and advise him not to bring suit. Not being satisfied, the client would get another lawyer to take his case and the party he was suing would come to father to defend him and win the case.
He was of a very religious nature. In his letters to his wife, who was absent from him in Knoxville helping care for her mother in the last few weeks of her life, he wrote of attending services at the Smyrna Church of Christ and of his high regard for the minister. And in his letters while in the Army was manifested a deep spirituality and abiding trust in God.
His successful law practice was interrupted by the breaking out of the Civil War. He enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 and was elected Captain of Company C, 3rd Tennessee Infantry. But before many months, he became ill of typhoid fever, came home, and died in February 1862. Thus in his prime, was cut short the life of one who, by intellect and education, gave promise of a brilliant career.
Mary Carnes Hill (1826-1899)
On May 4, 1826, Mary Carnes, the first child born of William Davis Carnes and Elizabeth Billingsley Carnes, was born on the farm her father had bought and improved, about four miles above Pikeville, Bledsoe County, Tennessee. Her father was successful financially and gave his children everything they needed for their physical and spiritual welfare. She spent a happy childhood at the family home in Sequatchie Valley, an unusually happy home.
Her father taught the district school in that community which she attended and there she began her education which prepared her for becoming a noted teacher and educator in Tennessee. Her next schooling was at Lafayette Academy in Pikeville when Professor Garvin and wife were teachers.
When her father decided to move his family to Knoxville so that he could enter the University of Tennessee, Mary was fifteen years old. When it became known among his friends and relatives that W. D. Carnes was going to leave his farm and mill to get more education, they thought it was a wild and foolish notion. His wife's uncle, John Billingsley, said to him, "William, you are a fool! If you would stay here and run your farm and mill you would soon be a rich man, and could give your children a fortune apiece". This was foreign to the ideas W. D. Carnes had of the use of money. He thought to make money for money's sake and hoard it was a form of idolatry. He thought that money was a means to an end and not an end in itself.
At that time U. T. was not a co-ed school so Mary Carnes entered East Tennessee Female Institute. While she was a student there she attended a Baptist revival and joined the Baptist Church with her father's approval. There was no New Testament Church in Knoxville at that time. Afterwards she became a zealous, consecrated member of the Church of Christ.
She continued in that institution until her father was stricken with a serious brain trouble. His life was almost despaired of and his doctors prescribed complete rest, mental and physical. It was thought the farm was an ideal place for that purpose. So back to the farm the family went.
Under those favorable conditions, W.D.Carnes recovered his health and vigor. He was not contented to stay on the farm and became restless and anxious to get back to his chosen life work, teaching. He interviewed the Trustees of Lafayette Academy about teaching there. They readily and eagerly approved the suggestion. The people in Pikeville and the region around were pleased with the idea. He taught there two years. His daughter Mary was one of his pupils.
While he was thus engaged, a movement was started by the members of the Christian Church to build a college at Spencer, Van Buren Co., to be under the auspices of the Christian Church. The promoters selected W.D.Carnes to be president. This institution was named Burritt College in honor of Elihu Burritt, the learned blacksmith.
Burritt College opened its doors for students under the presidency of W.D.Carnes in January 1850. His daughter, Mary, and William Jasper Hill, of White Co., were students the first year of operation. These two continued their studies there until they graduated. They were attracted to each other while associated in the classroom. This attraction grew into love and soon after their graduation they were married on July 22, 1854. Both were 28 years old.
William J. Hill had studied law before their marriage, and he was admitted to the bar in Pikeville. There they made their home, and he successfully practiced law for eight years. They were devoted to each other and lived happily until the Civil War broke out and interrupted their pleasant home. William Hill enlisted in the Confederate Army and in a few months contracted typhoid fever which proved fatal and he passed away in February 1862.
During the first eight years of happy life together in Pikeville, William and Mary Hill had five children: Edwin Carnes, Lucius Davis, Ella, Dora, and William Walter. After William's death, Mary had these children and Ida Rogers to raise. Ida was the daughter of Mary's sister, Amanda, who died soon after Ida's birth. On her deathbed, she asked Mary to raise her daughter. All these children were born in Pikeville and were educated at Manchester College and Burritt College while these schools were under the presidency of their grandfather, W.D.Carnes. Their mother (and aunt) was a teacher.
After the Federal soldiers came to Sequatchie Valley and Pikeville and confiscated everything in the shape of food, it became difficult for people to get enough food to keep soul and body together. When the war broke out President Carnes had to close his school at Franklin, and he and his young daughter Annette came to Pikeville and made their home with Mary. Owing to the extreme difficulty of getting food in Pikeville, they decided to move to Spencer. They had friends there and the Federals had not yet invaded that territory. When it was noised abroad that W.D.Carnes and Mary were there, the citizens began making up a school and insisting on them teaching in the college. They opened up a school but it was of short duration for the Federal soldiers came and camped in the college building.
After the war was over, the leaders of the Christian Church began agitating the question of building a church school, but instead of building it at Franklin, as was intended before the war, Manchester was the location selected. A large commodious frame building was erected, W.D.Carnes was made president, and Mary Hill was selected as one of the teachers. From that time on these two were associated together in schools as long as the father lived.
When Mary moved to Manchester to assume her duties in Manchester College, she bought a small farm with a good building on it, about a mile west of town. On Sunday afternoons, when the weather would permit, usually a crowd of young folks would come to our home to romp and play. If mother thought they were not suitable companions, she would call them all in the house, give each a Testament, and begin to read Scripture. Soon they began to drop out and she had not read far until all were gone.
While she was engaged in teaching, Col. Massey Hill, who lived in Hillsboro, Tennessee, was a frequent visitor to our home. The courtship resulted in their marriage in 1866. Col. Hill was agent for the Barrell estate. The Barrells were capitalists from the east who acquired large bodies of mountain land. He was surveying it in tracts to sell to settlers for homes. Consequently he was not at home much. Being up in years and naturally of delicate health, Col. Hill lived but a few years after their marriage.
In Chapter 1 of this book is told of the violent epidemic of malaria that struck Manchester and its cause. This invasion of malaria broke up the school. It operated only about four years.
Mary Carnes Hill sold her property at Manchester and the family moved back to Spencer. They bought a home about 400 yards east of the college building, and she and her children lived there happily for ten years while she taught at the college.
Burritt College flourished during this period, the student body outgrew the small building that then existed, and a larger building was erected. Then President Carnes was betrayed by those he thought were his friends and another manipulated the Trustees of the college and had himself elected president. Of course W.D.Carnes and his daughter Mary severed their connection with the institution. W.D.Carnes, humiliated and crushed in spirit, lived only a few years, dying at the age of 74.
After that Mary Hill and family moved to Sparta, Tennessee, where she and Mr. John McMillan, brother of Buford McMillan, operated the school in Nourse Seminary, which was situated on a hill in East Sparta where White County High School buildings now (1955) stand. They conducted this school for two years, and the Hill family occupied a residence adjacent to the Seminary.
After she quit teaching in Nourse Seminary, Mary Hill took a needed vacation. She bought a home on the main street leading north in the direction of what was known as the Carding Machine, now where the Sparta water works is located. There she devoted her time to domestic affairs and improving her property until a school was made up at Lafayette Academy in Pikeville and she was called there to take charge. She taught one session and returned to her home in Sparta.
Later when her son William Walter married May Hill of Harriman, Tennessee, and began to practice medicine at Whiteside, Marion Co., Tennessee, Mary Hill and her daughter, Ella, were given the public school there. They taught there two years with complete satisfaction and could have continued but Ella wanted to go to Chattanooga.
Subsequently Dr. Hill formed a partnership in practice with Dr. Pea at Whitwell, Tennessee, and Mary Carnes Hill and Ella served as principal and teacher for one term and began the fall term of 1899, when Mary Hill was taken with a violent attack of double pneumonia. Knowing it to be a critical condition in a woman of her age, all her children were summoned to her bedside. On Sunday, the 5th day of her illness, she asked that an elder of the Church of Christ be called that she might take communion. This done, and surrounded by her children, they all communed together. As the day waned in the afternoon her heart began to fail and she grew weaker and weaker. When the shadows of the mountain fell over this Sequatchie Valley town, her spirit was set free from her tired and worn body to pass through the gate of life eternal, to be with loved ones gone before and where, face to face, she would see her Savior whom she served so faithfully while on earth.
Her body was taken to Smyrna Cemetary and buried beside her husband, William J. Hill. Their children have erected a monument to mark their resting place.
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