JAMES MADISON HILL, who died at his home in Vinton, May 1, 1907, was one of the men whose industry transformed the virgin landscape of Benton county into one great productive farm. He also was a citizen who gave character and stability to the community in which he lived. He had been a resident of the county since 1865, and for the last fifteen years of his life had made his home in Vinton, where his widow now lives.
He was born in LaPorte county, Indiana, December 5, 1841. In 1844 his parents moved to a farm near the town of Lena, in Stephenson county, Illinois, which was their home until they came to Vinton in 1866. The father was John W. Hill, who was born in Schenectady, New York, in 1804, being the oldest of a family of twelve children, all of whom attained ripe age, and he died at his son's homestead in Eden township, in November, 1886. The mother was Lorena (Reynolds) Hill, who died in Stephenson county about 1860.
James M. Hill was reared in Stephenson county, Illinois, attended public school there, and later took a course in Bryant & Stratton's Business College in Chicago. For the latter part of his education he worked and saved the necessary money, and in this and his subsequent career he was largely a self-made man. He taught school for a time in Illinois, and in 1865 came to Benton county. He purchased two hundred and forty acres of raw and unimproved land in the center of Eden township, and with an industry which stamped him as a real pioneer began preparing the land for regular agriculture and improved it with farm buildings, which in time made it one of the best country homesteads in the township1. He bought and sold several tracts of land, at one time owning three hundred and twenty acres in all. As part of his farming he engaged in the raising of high-grade stock. In politics he was a stanch Republican and one of the public-spirited citizens of his community.
Mrs. James M. Hill was before her marriage Miss Mary A. Goodell. She was born in Bradford county, Pennsylvania, in 1842, and they were married at Rockton, Illinois, October 19, 1863. Her parents were Arad and Nancy (Gamble) Goodell. The former was born in Bradford county, Pennsylvania, April 26, 1813, moved to Carroll county, Illinois, about 1855, thence to Linn county, Iowa, near Fairfax, where he died in 1873. Nancy Goodell was born in Xenia, Ohio, December 25, 1812, and died May 18, 1896, at the age of eighty-three years and five months, having spent the last few years of her life in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hill. The Goodell family was of English stock on the paternal and of Scotch-Irish on the maternal side. Mrs. Hill had two brothers and three sisters: C. M. Goodell is a resident of Eden township and Rufus S., of St. Joseph, Michigan. The sisters are, Mrs. Addie Weston, of Florence township, Benton county, Mrs. Lois V. Sebern, of Boise City, Idaho, and Mrs. Frances Heath, who died in Florence township in the fall of 1905.
Mr. and Mrs. Hill had three children: Clyde S., Frank M. and Delia May. Frank M. was born in Eden township, April 2, 1868, and died at the age of four years. Delia May, who was born in Eden township, April 27, 1874, is the wife of Dr. Robert Park, of Fort Morgan, Colorado, and they have two daughters, Vera Annabel, born April 12, 1904, and Genevieve Hill, born September 19, 1909.
Clyde S. Hill was born in Stephenson county, Illinois, September 9, 1864. He married, in Linn county, February 15, 1888, Miss Bertha Terry. She was born in Norwalk, Ohio, February 20, 1867, and her parents, John M. and Mary E. (Howe) Terry, came to Linn county, Iowa, in October, 1868, owning land in that county and in Benton county, and are now residents of Cedar Rapids. Mr. C. S. Hill and wife have one son, Jay Terry, born December 30, 1889, and now in business at Cedar Rapids; and one daughter, Jessie Lucile, born February 20, 1894, and now a student in the Vinton high school. Mr. Hill affiliates with the Knights of Pythias, and the family are Presbyterians.
Picture of James M. Hill