Joseph Hill (1790-1871), The Second Joseph, ShingleMaker, 52 Ancestors #116

I was so thrilled when I discovered the birth record of Rachel Levina Hill in Bristol Township, Addison County, Vermont with her parent’s names, Joseph Hill and Naby.

Rachel Hill birth

How tough could the next generation be? The name wasn’t John Smith and this document gave both parents names.  Addison County wasn’t heavily populated.  This should be a slam dunk.


Little did I know.

When I started my search for Joseph Hill, my only real piece of data to go on was that Joseph and Nabby were married by 1814 or 1815 when Rachel Levina was born, and were still living in the same area in 1831 when she was married.

So, the 1830 census in Addison County, Vermont seemed like a good starting point.

1830 Census

In the 1830 census, we already have a challenge. There is a Joseph Hill in Bristol Township, a Josephus in Cornwall and two Josephs in Starksboro.

Four Joseph Hills??  Seriously.  In that small area.  How can that be?  Big groan!

Josephus doesn’t seem to fit, either by virtue of his name or location, so I tentatively eliminated him to focus on the three Josephs. All three Joseph’s are age 30-40 in 1830, which is very un-useful, and all the wives are 30-40 as well, so born between 1790 and 1800.  Really?  Really not helpful.

The best I could do was to begin to map the children of the various Josephs in documentation against the children noted on the census. Unfortunately, there would not be an exact fit.

Maybe we’ll have better luck with 1820.

1820 Census

In the 1820 census, we should find Joseph since we know that Rachel Levina was born in Bristol Township in 1815. Joseph Hill does not appear in Bristol Township where Rachel was born, but does appear in the Starksboro group of Hills living beside Ruby Hall, with:

  • one male under 10 (born 1810-1820,) probably a son
  • 1 male 16-26 (born 1794-1814) identity unknown, possibly a son
  • one male 26-45 (born 1775-1794,) Joseph Hill, unless he is the unknown person above
  • one female under 10 (born 1810-1820), has to be Rachel
  • 1 female 16-26 (born 1794-1814), has to be Nabby

Two people are engaged in agriculture.  This means that this Joseph was born between 1775-1794 and living in Starksboro in 1820. It also means that Rachel probably had a brother given the male under 10 and possibly a second brother given the male 16-26, although given Nabby’s age, she could not have a 16 year old child.

1810 Census

In the 1810 census, we find scattered Hill families, with a grouping in Starksboro: Samuel, John, William, Thomas, Latham? and Lemuel.  Joseph is not yet in the census by his own name, suggesting that he either didn’t live in Addison County yet or was not yet married and that one of these Hill men was probably his father or a close relative.

In 1810, Joseph would have been between 16 and 20 years old, depending on which birth year is accurate.  The only Starksboro Hill men in the census, below, who have a male of that age (ages 16-26, third column to the right of the names) or 10-16 (second column to the right of the names) were William, Samuel and Lemuel.  So Joseph is likely living in one of these households, who we later discover are his brothers.

1810 Addison County Vt census

1800 Census

The 1800 census becomes even more difficult. There are several groups of Hill men, one in Bristol Township and 4 in Starksboro.  Given that Joseph was born around 1790, his father, if here, would have been one of these men with a male child of around 10.  The only man in the Bristol/Starksboro group to have any male children of that approximate age is Samuel, but we later determine that Joseph is not Samuel’s son, but his brother.  In fact, all of the Starksboro men except John are brothers.

  • Lewis Hill, Bristol Twp, 1 male 16-25, 1 female under 10, 1 female 26-44
  • Thomas Hill, Starksboro, 1 male 16-25, no females
  • John Hill, Starksboro, 1 male 26-44, 1 female 16-25
  • Samuel Hill, Starksboro, 4 males under 10, 1 26-44, 1 females under 10, 2 26-44
  • William Hill, Starksboro, 1 male 26-44, no females
  • Ambrose Hill, Cornwall, 1 male 10-15, 1 male over 45, 1 female 10-15, one female over 45
  • Titus Hill, Cornwall, 2 males under 10, 2 10-15, 2 16-25, 2 over 45, 1 female under 10, 1 16-25, 1 26-44, 1 over 45
  • Moses Hill, Cornwell, 1 males under 10, 1 26-44, 1female 16-25
  • Elias Hill, Middlebury, 3 males under 10, 1 16-25, 1 26-44, 1 over 45, 1 female 26-44
  • Festus Hill, Middlebury, 1 male under 10, 1 16-25, 1 26-44, 1 female under 10, 1 26-44
  • Calvin Hill, Monkton, 3 males under 10, 1 10-15, 1 16-25, 1 26-44, 1 female under 10, 1 26-44
  • Billiom Hill, New Haven, 1 male over 45, 1 female over 45
  • Reuben Hill, (next door), New Haven, 1 male under 10, 1 10-15, 2 16-25, 1 26-44, 1 female under 10, 1 16-25

On the flip side, 1790 looks significantly easier, because most Hill men aren’t there yet. Perhaps the Hill migration from New Hampshire took place between 1790 and 1800.

1790 Addison Co., Vermont Census

  • Billius Hill, New Haven, 2 males over 16, 2 females under 16

The Blacksmith Ledger

I realize a blacksmith ledger is a really unusual resource, but this one is chocked full of interesting information, representative of that time and life in Vermont.

James Barton, a blacksmith from Ferrisburg Hollow, Addison County, Vermont which appears to be 7-11 miles from Starksboro, kept a ledger from 1828-1832.

James Barton’s descendant tells us the following about the ledger:

Kept by my great-great grandfather and brought to Crawford County, Pennsylvania about 1843, when the family settled in Beaver Township. Other account books may exist, but this was the only known one at the time I photocopied it for my own use in the 1970’s.  The current location of the original book is unknown.

Excerpt transcribed by
Judith Smith Magons
Wadsworth OH

I extracted all of the Hill information, with the hope that somehow I could tie something together. I also found it fascinating that this blacksmith wound up in Crawford County, PA, adjacent to Warren County, where Rachel Levina Hill and her husband Anthony Lore would find themselves in 1850.  Was there some connection or was the Warren County/Crawford County area simply a popular migration location from Vermont?

Blacksmith Ledger:

Page 1

July 14 1828      Richard Hill Dr to Shoeing                .34

Page 3

August 12 1828 Samuel Hill Dr to repairing

Single Waggon                                         8.00

15             Richard Hill Dr to mend chains                    .42

Wm Worth 2d to fix saddle trace

By C Hill                                                     .34

Page 5

August 27th 1828  Richard Hill Dr to Shoeing                           .25

Richard Hill Dr to Shoeing                           .50

30              Wm Hill 2d  To Shoeing                              .12

Page 6

Sept 9               Wm Hill 2d to Shoeing                                .25

Page 7

Sept 15th 1828 Thomas Hill Dr to repairing

Wm Worths Waggon                                1.00

20th            Thomas Hill To staple                                 .25

Thomas Hill to reparing wagon                    .75

Wm Hill 2d Dr to mending chains                 .19

Page 8

Sept 26, 1828     Wm Hill 2d Dr to Shoeing                            .13

Richard Hill Dr to Shoeing                         1.00

Do fixing whiffletree                                    .35

29th            Wm Hill 2d Dr to Shoeing                            .67

Oct 1st               Samel Bushnell Dr to Ironing

to horse wagon for John Hill

with extra bands                                     31.50

Do Irons for Box                                       1.50

Page 9

Pct 15th 1828     Richard Hill Dr tp Shoeing                           .60

Page 10

Oct 20 1828       Wm Hill 2d to Shoeing                                .25

Richard Hill to mend Chains                        .32

Do Apple Knife                                           .10

Page 11

Nov 1st 1828      Joseph Hill Dr to making 6 knives               .60

Page 13

November 5th 1828 John Hill 2d Dr to drawing

ox Shoe Iron on credit 60 lb 3 Cents          1.80

Page 14

Nov 12th             Joseph Hill Dr to Laying hatchet               1.00

Page 15

Nov 23 1828      Wm Hill 2d to Shoeing a horse                  1.06

Page 16

Dec 5th 1828      John Hill Dr to Shoeing                             1.17

16              Linal & John Hill Dr to mend chain               .10

Do Cart hook    lb

Page 17

Dec 17th 1828    Wm Hill 2d to horse shoeing                       .92

Do to Ironing a whiffletree                         1.00

Thomas Hill Dr to 6 butter rings                   .36

Richard Hill Dr to horses shod                   1.60

Page 18

January 1st 1829           Thomas Hill Dr to fixing __led Stamp          .25

Wm Hill 2d Dr to Shoeing                            .25

Page 20

January 19 1829                       Wm Hill 2d Dr to 25 nails        .13

Page 21

January 26 1829                       Jos Hill Dr to fix Steel gards          .13

W Hill Dr to a T on Sleigh                            .37

Page 22

January 20th 1829  Munson & Moon Dr to mending

Iron bar by Jos Hill                                    .25

Richard Hill to key for ax Staple                   . 6

Page 23

Feb 6th 1829      Jos Hill Dr to upset ax

and fix a Teakettle bail                                .32

10th            Richard Hill Shoeing 1 toed 3 Set                .54

Page 25

SS March 6 1829 Wm Hill 2d To 1 new Shoe Sett                 .34

9th              Due John Hill Dr to repair trap                     .12

Page 27

March 21st 1829 Wm Hill 2d to Shoeing 1 Set                       .13

23              Wm Hill 2d to mend Chain                          .15

Richard Hill Dr to mend Shovel                    . 8

Page 28

April 1 1829       Jos Hill Dr to baile one for Ellsworth            .53

(meaning bail five pail kettle, as done for another’s entry above)

Page 33

May 1st 1829      Richard Hill Dr to Setting one Shoe              .13

Page 34

May 10th 1829    Joseph Hill Dr to 6 Spikes                          . 9

Richard Hill Dr to a Clevey Bolt palent          .25

Wm & Joseph Hill Dr to mending Dung fork          .17

Wm Hill 2d Dr to Shoeing                            .13

Page 36

June 4th 1829     Joseph Hill Dr to Sharping 2 bars               .17

Do Sharp another bar                                 . 8

Page 38

July 15th 1829    Richard Hill self Dr to Shoeing

2 New 5 old ones                                      1.29

30              John Hill Dr to horse Shoeing                      .30

Lionel & John Hill Dr to

Ironing pari of Whiffletrees                        2.00

Thomas Hill Dr to 24 Spike                          .34

Page 42

Sept 21st 1829   Thomas Hill Dr 2 pair of hinges                  1.00

Do 2 hasps hooks staples                           .34

Do 65 Nails                                                .34

Page 44

January 1830     Richard Hill Dr to mend skimmer                 .25

Page 45

Jan 22 1830       L & John Hill 3d Dr Ironing Sley               18.00

Do Sley wood  $8

L & John Hill 3d to fifty nails                        .37

Page 46

18 Feb 1830      L & J Hill Dr to shoeing 1 new 3 set  .71      .71

Page 47

April 8 1830       Jonth Hill Dr to Bolt & Rivet for plow            .17

Page 48

April 1830          John Hill Dr to 6 bolts & nuts for plow          .75

Wm Hill Dr to 1 bolt & nut                           .13


  • “Dr” indicates “Debit”
  • “Do” indicates “Ditto”
  • “Cr” indicates “Credit”
  • “SS” indicates work done by Seaman S. Bushnell, a blacksmith working in Barton’s shop
  • “palent” unknown word
  • “self” indicates Richard did the work himself in Barton’s shop

Keep in mind, there were four Joseph Hills in Addison County in 1830, but even if this isn’t “our” Joseph, this record of the place and time is likely the same kinds of things any farmer in Addison County would have been doing.

Bertha Hanson

Bertha Hanson was a lifelong resident of Starksboro, Vermont, the local genealogist and historian. She was born in 1917 and seemed to be a history sponge.  While she clearly didn’t know Joseph Hill herself, she knew of him.  Unfortunately, Bertha died in 1994 without publishing her works.  If you’re groaning, so was I.  In fact, I’m still groaning because so very much information died with her or is scattered and inaccessible.

In 1998, a book titled “Bertha’s Book, A View of Starksboro’s History,” was published, but it was mostly her annual “town reports” from 1954-1994, which isn’t to diminish its value. It’s just such a small portion of her body of work.

However, various people who have been long-time genealogists seemed to be in possession of select pieces of her research. Obviously, she shared generously.  I was hopeful that I would be able to tie into something she had already done.

I was lucky enough to stumble across John Burbank, a genealogist living in Bristol, in Addison County, who was in possession of some of Bertha’s work on the Hill family. While the Hills weren’t her primary focus, she had still managed to amass enough information that I was able to begin putting together family groups and a timeline, thanks to information sent by John which was a combination of both his and her work.

Hill Family History

According to Bertha, Samuel Hill was the first Hill to settle in Addison County. She originally reported John Hill who settled in Starksboro to be his brother, then later corrected the relationship to be a “cousin of some sort.”

I have extracted this information from John Burbank’s information, much of which was from Bertha’s writings.  The John Hill, below, is the father of Samuel Hill and also of several other men who settled in the Hillsboro section of Starksboro in Addison County.  William, John, Lemuel, Thomas and the Second Joseph were all founders among the Hillsboro Hill families, although the Second Joseph moved westward.  Just wait until you hear about the Second Joseph!

JOHN HILL (#5) (Henry #3, William, William), b. 19 Feb 1737, d. 9 Oct 1804, m. 26 Nov 1761 Catherine, dau. of Capt. Samuel & Elizabeth (___) MITCHELL, b. 9 Oct 1738, bp 16 Aug 1743, d. 21 Jul 1827. The Mitchell’s were from Kittery, ME.

John and his father bought the farm in Barrington, NH and according to Barrington historians, John is the Captain John Hill who had a company at Seaney’s Island in the Revolutionary War.

Bertha (Brown) Hanson of Starksboro indicated in a note to John R. Burbank that she had located the old Hill farm in Barrington, NH:

“Large boulders wall the family cemetery which is at the top of a hill with fields sloping away from it on two sides. Two large, plain, unlettered stones mark the graves of John and Catherine.  The original house, located at the foot of the hill burned many years ago.”

Mrs. Hanson has also done considerable research in the history of Starksboro and has had printed vignettes appearing in the annual Starksboro Town Report for many years. One such from 1957:

“The section of Starksboro known as ‘Hillsboro’ originally included roughly the area between the Hannon farm now owned by the town and the corner above the Ireland school house. The first deed to property in this area was to Samuel Hill of Barrington, New Hampshire, on June 22, 1798.  This was to land near the former Hillsboro school house. The following year his brother, John purchased land near the twin bridges.  {Note: Bertha later indicated that this John was not Samuel’s brother, but probably a cousin of some sort.  Actually he was a second cousin.  When this vignette was published posthumously in 1998 as Bertha’s Book, A View of Starksboro’s History, the word brother was changed to cousin.]

This John Hill of Starksboro is not our Joseph’s father.  The father of our Joseph is John, who died in 1804 in Barrington, NH, John #5 above.

The Ryan, also known as the Hillsboro Cemetery is located “on Hillsboro Road just before reaching Twin Bridges in District #5.”

Hillsboro cemetery

This cemetery holds the graves of many Hill family members including Joseph Hill who died in 1853 and Lemuel and Sylvanus’s adopted children. There are many graves marked only with fieldstones.  The earliest stones seemed to have been placed in the 1840s.

Cem where Samuel Hill buried

Cousin Rick took a photo of Hillsboro Road leading to the cemetery, which he says is in good shape compared to other sections of this road.  Another mile or so beyond the cemetery is the location where Samuel Hill built his grist mill at Twin Bridges.

Hillsboro road

Bertha continues:

The exact date when the brothers (John and Samuel subsequently corrected to cousins) moved their families to Vermont is not clear. However, by the time the U. S. census for 1800 was taken, Samuel, his wife and their six children, John and his wife, and also two other brothers, William and Thomas, who later purchased land near-by, were living in Starksboro.  That year another brother, Lemuel, settled on the farm now known as the Morton Hill place.  The last of the family to locate in town was Francis who, in 1810, purchased land above the present location of the Ireland school house.

Hillsboro was isolated by its location from activities in other parts of town. As early as 1817, Rev. Bowles, an itinerant Baptist minister, began holding church services in the homes of families in that neighborhood.  In September, 1821, the Baptist church was organized with 17 members.  No church building was erected, however, until the present one was built at the village in 1868.

Changing social and economic conditions led many of the second generation to move away from the hill farms. Some went west, some went to other towns, others bought land in the valley.  By 1870 there was only one Hill family living in Hillsboro.  Many of our townspeople, however, number one or more of the Hill brothers among their ancestors.

John Hill (#5) made out his will on 12 Apr 1804 and on 6 Nov 1804, a month after his death, it was entered for probate (Roberta’s note – in Stafford County, NH, probate Volume 14, page 22 and 23,) with his son, Henry, appointed executor as John had ordained.  Henry accepted that trust and “gave bonds for the faithful performance of the same in the sum of $7000 with two sureties.”  The will is interesting and sheds some light on members of the family not otherwise widely known. John starts off by giving one dollar to his oldest living sons and daughters: Samuel, William, John, Lemuel, Thomas, Betsey, Polly, and Susannah.  Many of these were already in VT by the time John wrote his will.  Perhaps the provisions for these was what John had previously given the older boys when they reached maturity.

John’s eldest son, Joseph, was dead, but John still had at home two minor sons, Francis and another Joseph, and an unmarried daughter, whom he remembered as follows:

And I give to My Son Francis Hill three hundred and fifty dollars and one yoke of oxen and one cow when he is twenty one years old and he is to stay his time out and I give to my son Joseph Hill three hundred and fifty dollars and one yoke of oxen and one cow to be paid to him when is is twenty one years old and he is to stay and serve his time out and I give to my daughter Hannah Hill one cow and three sheep to be delivered to her at my desire and to be kept on the place summer and winter and for her to have their income of them, and for her to have the privilege of the back room with the fireplace, and wood to keep as much fire as is nesary while she remains single.”

By far the greatest benefits were bestowed on his wife and son, Henry, age 23, who evidently was running the farm:

I give to my beloved wife all my real estate and three cows and six sheep and half the swine; all the household frunery, the household furnitry is to be for her to dispose of as she shall think best and allso one half of the dwelling house to be for her use during the time that she remains my widow and after she seases to be my widow, I give to my beloved son Henry all my real estate and all my stock and all my farming tools and I appoint and ordain my beloved son Henry Hill my only executor or administrator.

To his grandchildren, James, John, and Catrine, who were probably the children of his deceased son, Joseph, he made the following provision:

And I give to my granson James Hill one hundred dollars to be paid in neat stock or money when he is twenty two years old and I give to my granson John Hill one hundred dollars to be paid in neat stock or money when he is twenty two years old and I give to my grand daughter Catrine Hill fifty dollars in neat stock or house furnitry to be paid when she is twenty two years old.

John’s Children:

  1. Joseph, b. 31 May 1763, d. 24 Sep. 1790, m. possibly Sarah, dau. of ___ & ___ (___) Caverly (this needs further research). He evidently is the Joseph listed on the NH 1790 census of Barrington having in his household 1 male age 16 or older including the head of household (that would be Joseph), 2 males under age 16 (James and John), and 2 females (probably his wife and a dau., Catrine). Joseph is probably buried in the Hill family cemetery on the old Hill farm in Barrington.
  2. Samuel, b. 10 Apr. 1765 Great Barrington, NH (moved to Addison Co., VT)
  3. William, b. 21 Jan. 1767 Barrington, NH (moved to Addison Co. VT)
  4. Elizabeth “Betsey”, b. 2 Feb. 1769 Barrington, NH, d. 17 Mar. 1856, m. 10/12 Feb 1791 Barrington, NH to Samuel Bunker, son of Dodavah & Martha (Smith) BUNKER. Betsey and Samuel settled in Huntington, VT. They were gr. gr. grandparents of Bertha (Brown) Hanson of Starksboro.
  5. Mary “Polly/Molly”, b. 16 Mar. 1771 Barrington, NH, d. 19 June 1859 Cabot VT of pleursy, m. Daniel Smith, son of ___ & ___ (___) Smith, b.___, d. 1 Jan 1828 Cabot VT. Mary and Daniel settled in Cabot VT supposedly because of the Hazen Road. He was said to be the owner of the largest tract of land in the town. They were among the founders of the Methodist Church there. Early meetings were at the “center of town” and to save shoes, the children carried theirs until they had crossed the brook near the meeting place. Their pew in church was the third from front on right hand aisle.
  6. John, b. 28 June 1773 Great Barrington, NH, d.___. As far as is known, he stayed in NH. His birth is the only one among all his siblings which can be verified by NH public records. For a long time he was confused with a second cousin, the John Hill who m. Laura Bushnell in Starksboro.
  7. Susannah, b. 7 May 1775 Great Barrington, NH, d. 12 Mar. 1848 Stratford, NH.
  8. Lemuel, b. 10 Apr 1777 Barrington, NH (moved to Addison Co., VT)
  9. Thomas, b. 31 Jul 1778 Barrington, NH (moved to Addison Co., VT)
  10. Henry, b. 29 Mar 1781 probably Barrington, NH. He inherited the farm in Barrington, NH. Bertha (Brown) Hanson said that a loose paper in the record book gave the following data: Henry Hill d. 7 Oct 1876, m. Anna, dau. of ___ & ___ (___) Young, b.___, d. 26 Sep. 1854.
  11. Hannah, b. 10 Apr. 1783 probably Barrington, NH
  12. Francis, b. 31 Mar 1785 Barrington, NH
  13. Joseph, b. 2 Sep. 1791 probably Barrington, NH (moved to Addison Co., VT, known in this article as The Second Joseph)

John Burbank adds that the date of 1787 for the birth of the second Joseph was found in the papers of Bertha (Brown) Hanson which would mean that his oldest brother, Joseph was still living. Why name another child Joseph when the first has not died? Bertha’s mother told her that it was common to leave a child unnamed for two or three years. If that were true in this instance, then the younger Joseph would have received his name after September 1790 when the first Joseph died. However, family records made in 1880 and preserved by descendants of Marinda Betsey Hill give the date of 1791 for the second Joseph’s birth.

The census subsequently shows dates of 1792 and 1793 for Joseph’s birth and his obituary indicates 1790.

Note that patriarch John Hill’s burial is likely in the Hill Farm Family Cemetery listed on FindAGrave. He never migrated to Vermont although at least five of his sons lived, at least for some time, in Addison County.

SAMUEL HILL (John #5, Henry, William, William), b. 10 Apr 1765 Great Barrington NH, d. 14 Dec 1843 Starksboro VT, m. 31 May 1791 Louden NH, his cousin, Sarah “Sally”, dau. of Lionel & Martha (Mitchell) WORTH, b. 23 Nov 1768 Louden NH, d. 26 Apr 1843 Starksboro VT. The Hill burial plot is in the Harry Hallock-Brown Hill Cem. in Starksboro. His tombstone reads: Far from affliction toil & care // The happy soul is fled // The breathless clay shall slumber here // among the silent dead.”  Her tombstone reads:  “Beneath this clod in peaceful sleep // Her mortal body lies // Surviving friends for her do weep // For virtue never dies.”

Brown Hill cem

Cousin Rick Norton tells us that marker above is not a gravestone for an individual, but a monument to the early Hill family members and looks like a tree with it’s limbs cut off.  He calls this the Hillsboro Road Cemetery.

Samuel Hill d 1843

The Brown Hill Cemetery is in a fairly remote location.

Brown hill cem map

Bertha Hanson in writing about the Hillsboro section of Starksboro which was quoted previously under John Hill #5, said of Samuel that “The first deed to property in this area was to Samuel Hill of Barrington, New Hampshire, on June 22, 1798, recorded in Sep.  This was to land near the former Hillsboro school house.”  To that same article was added the following:

According to tradition, Samuel moved his goods through the woods from New Hampshire on a hand sled. At the time he began clearing his land, the nearest neighbor was three miles away.  In 1805 he became the second man to represent Starksboro in the state legislature.

A similar account is also found in H. P. Smith, ed., History of Addison County Vermont, (D. Mason & Co., Syracuse NY, 1886), p. 632:

Samuel Hill, from Barnstead, N.H., moved his goods through the forest on a hand-sled in 1805, and located upon the farm now occupied by Patrick Leonard and the latter’s son-in-law, John Welch, in the locality now known as ‘Hillsboro.’ Here three miles from any human habitation, he cut the first stick of timber on that farm.  During his long life in Starksboro he held most of the town offices and was the first captain of the militia.  His son Richard reared a family of eleven children, ten of whom survive, their aggregate ages amounting to over 566 years.”

He lived in Starksboro for a while with no family. He owned and operated a saw mill at the “Twin Bridges” in Hillsboro.  The story is told that he worked for someone in the Starksboro village area (possibly a Mr. Bushnell) for a sheep which he carried home on his shoulders.

The Samuel Hill house which no longer exists was similar to the Lemuel Hill house being a large two story building with a central doorway opening into a small hall from which the stairs ascended to the second floor. The Thibault family when they lived in Hillsboro called this house in their neighborhood “the hotel.”  It was still standing in the 1920’s forlorn and empty.

Samuel was a man of strong and marked characteristics, and an earnest working in whatever effort was made to advance the interest of the town. In 1805 he became the second man to represent Starksboro in the state legislature.  Although Free Will Baptist Quarterly Meetings were held in his barn on occasion, Samuel & Sarah were faithful and earnest members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Starksboro.  He was elected as Grand Juror 1808-9, selectman 1808-10.

An attempt to solidify the family was evidently made at one time as there is a monument of the Hill Reunion erected on top of the ledges going south on Route 116 from Starksboro village. The monument reads:

Hill Reunion – Organized in 1890 – The first settlement of Hills in Starksboro, Vermont, in 1805, in memory of and in honor to past, present, and future Hills and their kindred.

Hill Reunion

Photo by Don Shall

Rich Norton during his visit took a picture of the Hill hill overlooking Starksboro from Hillsboro Road where the Hill family members settled.

Hillsboro road looking at hill where Hills settled

John Burbank’s Hill Family Research

The following information was provided in various communications with John Burbank.

The Hill family is numerous in this area.  Starksboro, the next town north of Bristol on Rt. 116 has an area known as Hillsboro.  Of the numerous Hill’s in that town some have been connected but others have not.  Joseph is one of our unconnected branches and I don’t know any more about his family other than Rachel’s marriage date and the record that her mother was Naby.

John Hill’s sons moved from Barrington, New Hampshire to Addison County, Vermont.

The cemetery is now pretty much in the woods and not too far from my Dad’s farm going up over the mountain by foot or by a jeep road. The Mason Hill Cemetery is also located on a rather primitive hill road in another part of Starksboro. Joseph Hill II and his wife Sarah Mason are buried there.

Process of Elimination

Sometimes genealogy turns into sleuthing work, and that’s exactly what happened in “The Case of the Three Joseph Hills.”

We know that Joseph was in New Hampshire when his father died in 1804 and was age 10 or older, possibly as old as 17, but not yet 21. Some of Joseph’s brothers subsequently settled in Addison County, Vermont.  He likely came with one of his brothers sometime between 1804 and 1813 or 1814 when he was married.  He may have been living in Vermont in the 1810 census, but we don’t know.  Given his father’s verbiage in his will, “stay and serve his time out,” he may have stayed in New Hampshire until he obtained his inheritance, which means he would have come to Vermont between 1811 and 1814, about the time he married, given that what few records we do have indicate he was born between 1790 and 1793.

I set about to try and find Joseph.

First, I found all of the Joseph Hills in 1820 in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire and accounted for them in 1830, removing men who did not have a daughter in 1820 that was born circa 1815 (which would be the under 10 category in 1820). The one and only piece of information we knew about Joseph in 1820 is that he had at least one daughter who was 5 or 6 years old.

That leaves only two men found in the 1820 census as the candidate for Joseph Hill, father of Rachel. Those men were the Joseph living in Caladonia and the one in Starksboro, Vermont.  Caladonia is roughly 90 miles from Starksboro, and we know that in 1815 Rachel was born in Bristol, so this eliminates the Caladonia Joseph.  In 1820, our Joseph was in Starksboro, probably in the Hillsboro part of Starksboro.

In 1830 there was no Joseph in Caledonia and there were 3 in the Starksboro area, as compared with 1 in 1820, so they had to come from someplace.

The 3 Starksboro area Josephs as extracted from the Hill genealogy compiled by Bertha Hanson:

1. Joseph D. Hill – (William #8, John, Henry, William, William), b. c1793 Barnstead, NH, d. 2 Mar 1869 Lincoln, VT of fever, m. Sarah Mason, dau. of David & Jemima (French) Mason, b. c1800 VT, d. 20 Apr. 1841 Starksboro VT. Joseph and Sarah are buried in the Mason Hill Cem., Starksboro VT. He was a farmer and stone mason.

In 1850 census, this Joseph is living with William W. and his wife Mandana and his son Cyrus. He is age 56 and is reported to be born in Vermont.  His wife is apparently dead and his other children not in the household.

Utilizing Bertha’s information about his children, incorporated into the chart below, and the 1830 census records, I reconstructed his family.  In the 1830 census in Starksboro, he is listed as Joseph 2, probably indicating that is the younger of the two Starksboro Joseph’s.

Joseph D Hill family reconstruct 2

Joseph 1 is not Rachel’s father.  Rachel’s mother’s name is not Sarah.

Let’s look at the second man named Joseph Hill in Addison County, according to Bertha and John’s records:

2. Joseph Hill, Parents unknown, born 1790 Farmington, NH, d. 10 Nov 1853 Starksboro VT. m. 1 Apr 1817 Starksboro VT Catherine/Katherine Hill, dau. of Samuel & Sarah (Worth) Hill. She was b. 15 Apr 1796 Farmington NH, d. 13 Mar 1872 Starksboro VT. They were married by Samuel Hill, JP. They are buried in the Hillsboro Cem., row 2, Starksboro VT. Her name is spelled as Katherine on the gravestones of her children but as Catherine on her own.

Joseph Hill d 1853

Photo contributed by Rick Norton.

An obituary written by R. M. Minard in The Morning Star, a Freewill Baptist paper said:

In 1823 she gave her heart to the Saviour and united with the M. E. church and remained in it until 1844, when she left it and joined the F. B. church in this town and continued a worthy member of it until death. God gave her seven children, and in answer to her fervent prayer she saw them all converted and united with the church she loved so well.

The statement about seven children obviously must refer to those who made it to maturity.

Joseph and Catherine, his wife, were probably cousins but his line has not been established. Bertha (Brown) Hanson says that his picture leads her to believe that he was a fairly close relative to the other Starksboro Hill’s.

The following is a summary Bertha Hanson’s information plus the 1850 census information mapped to the 1830 census for this Joseph in Starksboro. There is a smudge for females “under 5” as if they weren’t sure they could count this child, plus they seem to be one short in that category if the birth dates we have are correct.

Joseph 1790 Family reconstruct

Joseph 2 is not Rachel’s father because Rachel’s mother’s name was not Katherine.

1840 and 1850 for Joseph 1 and 2

By 1840, the Joseph in Bristol Township is showing with 8 family members, probably Joseph 2, above.  The Joseph in Starksboro with 11 children living beside William, likely his father, is most probably Joseph 1.

In 1850, we also have two Joseph’s. One is clearly Joseph 2, living with wife Catherine with six of his children still living at home. He is noted as being born in New Hampshire, so we know this is one of the Joseph’s who arrived between the 1820 and 1830 census.

The other 1850 Joseph appears to be Joseph D., a stone mason born in 1793 because we find him living with his son William D. who had married a woman named Mandana.

This makes sense, because we know that by 1850, our third man named Joseph, below, has moved west.

Joseph 3, Known as “The Second Joseph”

Now for the confusing part.  The third Joseph in Addison County is nicknamed “The Second Joseph” because he was the second son named Joseph born to his parents.  Yes, I know it’s confusing, especially for the ancestor who was supposed to be easy!

3.  The Second Joseph (second Joseph, the son of John#5), b. 2 Sep. 1791 (Roberta’s note – or 1790, 1792 or 1793) probably in Barrington NH.

This is the strangest naming situation I think I’ve ever come across. John Hill (#5) had a son, Joseph, who was born in 1763 and who died Sept. 24, 1790.  He and his wife then name another son, possibly born before the death of the first Joseph in 1790, or about that time, Joseph.  It’s not terribly unusual for a couple to name a second child the same name as a child who died young, but I’ve never seen someone name their last child after their first child who lived to be 27 years old and had a family.

I began the identification of this Joseph by reconstructing the 1830 census.

In 1830 there are two other Joseph Hills living in Addison County. One is identified as living in Bristol Township who, based on census reconstruction, is my first choice, but neither the Bristol nor Starksboro families fit our information exactly.  Neither show a daughter as Rachel’s age of 15, so apparently Rachel was counted as age 14.  Neither shows a daughter in the 15-19 year old female column but both have a younger daughter in the age 10-14 column.

By process of elimination of Joseph 1 and Joseph 2, above, the family of Joseph 3 aka The Second Joseph, is accounted for as follows in 1830.

second Joseph family reconstructed

This family had 7 children, 3 boys and 4 girls, including Rachel.

Mrs. Hanson’s papers state concerning Joseph Hill, the younger, now also known as “The Second Joseph,” is “said to have settled in Waukegan, Ill. and died there.”

My first reaction when I saw that statement was that it certainly needs to be researched – by someone, not me. Then I wondered who said it!  My next reaction was that it was probably wrong.  But then I reconsidered, thinking that no one would pull the location of Waukegan, Illinois out of thin air, and it’s very specific.  It’s not like Waukegan was next door or even a name someone in Vermont would know.  Chicago, maybe, but Waukegan, not likely.

This Second Joseph seemed to be the best bet and only fit left for my Joseph especially since he just happened to be the only stone left unturned after the other two Joseph’s had been eliminated by virtue of their wives.  It slowly dawned on me that it was going to be me to do that research after all. I decided to take the “long shot” look in Waukegan, Illinois. I knew, just knew, I was going on a wild goose chase, but there were no local geese left to chase.

So off to Waukegan, I half-heartedly went, in the census.

What I found stunned me.

Lo and behold, I found Joseph Hill and his wife Nabby, the parents of Rachel Levina Hill, in Waukegon, Lake County, Illinois in the 1850 and 1860 census. I was simply dumbstruck.  This was the last thing I expected to find and the last place I expected to find them.

Thank you Bertha!

Joseph and Nabby’s youngest child was with them in 1850, Rollin C. Hill born April 16, 1836 in Vermont and died December 24, 1918 in Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois. In 1851 he married Louisa Jane Wright.

Joseph and Nabby Hill are not the parents of a Thomas E. Hill also found in Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois born in 1832 in Vermont. He was an author and his bio states that he was born in Bennington, Vermont.

I cannot find Joseph and Nabby in the 1840 census.

In 1850, Joseph and Nabby are in the city of Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois. He is a shingle maker and they own $200 worth of real estate.  He tells us he was born in New Hampshire in 1793.

1850 Waukegan census

In 1860, Joseph still lives in the same city and he is shown as a laborer with no property, born in 1792.

Waukegan 1860 census

But, is this our Joseph Hill, for sure?  It would seem unlikely that two Joseph Hills in Addison County, Vermont, out of 3, would have a wife named Nabby – and a family oral history of going to Waukegan, Illinois.  In fact, we know the wives names of the other Joseph Hills in Addison County, and their wives are not named Nabby, which is one of the pieces of information we utilized to eliminate them as “our” Joseph.

Rachel’s Father is Joseph 3, Known as The Second Joseph

So in summary, by process of elimination, Rachel is the daughter of Joseph number 3, above.  He was known as “The Second Joseph” and moved west sometime after 1836 but probably before 1840.  He was probably the Joseph in Bristol Township in 1830, although the Joseph in Starksboro and in Bristol Township had families who were very similarly constructed.  The Joseph of Starksboro had 4 sons and 3 daughters and the Joseph of Bristol had 3 sons and 4 daughters. There is very little difference in these families and it’s difficult to tell them apart in the 1830 census.  I also found it remarkable that Rachel’s middle name is Levina and Joseph of Starksboro’s eldest daughter’s name is Alvina.  This could be a family naming pattern.  I will watch for a female of a similar name upstream.

Regardless of who was who in 1830, Rachel’s father, Joseph, by process of elimination, had to have been the Joseph in 1820 living in Starksboro.

I have a feeling that if these families could have been further clarified, Bertha would probably have done so.

The Landscape

Starksboro farm

A farm garden in Starksboro, Vermont taking advantage of the rock outcroppings in the beautiful landscape.  Cousin Rick says the land here is very rocky and claylike, not good for farming.

Rick Norton took several photos during a visit in 2012.  In the photo below, he is looking north into Starksboro from Big Hollow Road.

Starksboro N from 116 and Big Hollow Road

Looking towards the village of Starksboro from Hillsboro Road and 116.

Starksboro look N toward village at 116 and Hillsboro rd

Rick says that in this view of Starksboro, the building on the left was once a store operated by the Hill family.

Starksboro, Hill store on left

Starksboro from the south.

Starksboro from south

Sylvanus Hill

I originally thought that Sylvanus Hill might have been the brother of Rachel Levina Hill.  That has been proven untrue.  Sylvanus is the son of Joseph 2 whose wife is Catherine Hill and whose father is unknown.  However, Sylvanus and his father are obviously related in some way to Second Joseph, son of John #5.

However, since I have photos of Sylvanus and his wife, and no photos of any other early Hill family members, I have included Sylvanus’ information here.  He and Second Joseph who moved to Waukegan, Illinois are definitely cousins, but to what degree is undetermined.  Based on what we do know, they are at least first cousins once removed or more distantly related.

Sylvanus Hill tree

The photos below are labeled Sylvanus Hill and Mrs. Sylvanus Hill. They were purchased at the Champlain Valley Antique Center.  Hopefully, their descendants will find these photos and they will find their way back home.

Sylvanus Hill and wife

I wonder if The Second Joseph looked anything like Sylvanus?

Starksboro, Vermont to Otsego, New York to Waukegan, Illinois

The next place to research was Waukegan, Illinois, where I ventured in July of 2009.  But the path to Waukegan was not direct for Joseph.

Their journey to Waukegan, based on information found in Illinois, began in about 1842, in Oswego, New York where they lived after leaving Vermont and before arriving in Illinois. The move from Vermont to Illinois apparently was done in segments and not all at once.

Starksboro to Waukegan

Joseph Hill and Nabby Hall were married sometime about 1814 most likely in Starksboro, Addison County, Vermont where Nabby’s parents, Gershom Hall and Dorcas Richardson lived.

Joseph and Nabby’s daughter, Rachel Levina Hill was born in Addison County, Vermont in April 1814 or 1815, depending on which record you believe.  Rachel married Anthony Lore in 1831 in Starksboro, Vermont.  Rachel and Anthony moved to New York by 1835, but we’re not sure where.  Perhaps they were with or near her parents, although her parents were still in Vermont in 1836 when their son Rollin was born.

We can presume that in 1831 when Rachel Hill married Anthony Lore, her parents were still living in Addison County, Vermont.

However, from 1831 until I found their obituary information, and that of their son, in Waukegan, Illinois in 2009, no one knew anything more about Joseph and Naby (also spelled Nabby, probably short for Abigail) Hill.  Their obituaries informed us about time spent in Oswego, New York.

Two hundred and fifty miles by wagon is not a comfortable trip.  Wagons tend to travel about 10 miles a day in hilly terrain.  That entire region between Starksboro and Oswego is hilly to mountainous.  It would have taken them roughly 25 days to travel from Starksboro, Vermont to Oswego, New York.  They might have lived there in the 1840 census, but although there are Hill families in Oswego, we don’t’ find Joseph, or at least not one that appears to be the correct age.  There are two Josephs back in Addison County, but they appear to be Joseph 1 and Joseph 2, so we don’t know where our Joseph 3, aka, The Second Joseph, was living in 1840. Maybe they were literally “on the wagon” rolling westward when the 1840 census was taken.

Oswego 1855

This old map from 1855 shows what Oswego, on the shores of Lake Ontario, looked like about the time that Joseph and Nabby lived there.

Oswego was an important military town in its early days. The British occupied the area during the early 1700’s and built Fort Oswego and later Fort Ontario. Fort Ontario is clearly visible on the left cliff of the map. In the mid-1800’s, Oswego quickly adapted to the current hydrotherapy movement and established the Oswego Water Cure health spa.  I have never thought of an ancestor as potentially connected with a spa or spa area of any sort.  I wonder if Joseph had any connection.

The steamer “Northerner” is featured in the foreground. It’s possible the next leg of Joseph’s journey was by steamer, but that would have been the “long way” around through all of the Great Lakes.  More likely, the next leg of his journey was by wagon as well.

If the trip from Vermont to New York was long, the one from New York to Waukegan was worse.  That second trip was about 725 miles and would have taken them about 72 days (more than 10 weeks), maybe slightly less if they made good time, or longer if they had trouble, like wagon wheels breaking or mud or other hazards.  Everything they owned would have been packed in that wagon, plus at least the two children that we know made the journey with them.  They likely had more children that we don’t know about, as indicated by the 1830 census.  They may also have left married children behind, never to see them again.

We can be sure they never saw Rachel again, as she died in Warren County, PA between 1870 and 1880, around the same time as her parents.  We don’t know if they said their goodbye’s to Rachel in New York in the mid-1840s as they left for Illinois or in Vermont in the early 1830s as she left for New York with her new husband.

Regardless, Rachel would have been someplace between 15 or 16 and 29 years old when Joseph and Nabby last saw a daughter that had a lot of life left before her – and who would desperately need her parents and family in years to come.  I wonder if they were notified of her death, or she of theirs, and if they wrote letters in the intervening years.

Both Nabby and Rollin’s obituaries in Waukegan give us more information, although neither gives us Nabby’s maiden name.  One tells us that they came to Waukegan in 1842 and the other says they arrived in 1845.  Their daughter, Lucia was married in Waukegan in November of 1844, so they assuredly lived there by that time and Lucia had time to meet an eligible young man, fall in love, and become engaged.  Of course, remembering back when I was a teenage girl, that could all have occurred within about 2 weeks.

Joseph and Nabby would have traveled west from Oswego which was located on Lake Ontario to Buffalo, New York, then circled South around Lake Erie, crossed from Lake Erie to Lake Michigan at about the Indiana/Michigan border, then rounded the tip of Lake Michigan until they reached Waukegan, which at that time was called Little Fort, Illinois.  In May of 1847, someone drew a picture of what Little Fort looked like. In 1849, Little Fort was renamed Waukegan.

Little Fort, Illinois

The population in Little Fort in 1844 was 150, 152 in 1845, 759 in 1846, 1237 in 1847 and 2025 in 1848.  They had a veritable population explosion in 3 years.  Whether Joseph and Naby arrived in 1842 or 1844, there weren’t many people in Little Fort at that time – so Lucia didn’t have a lot of bachelors to choose from.

One of Waukegan’s largest imports was shingles and shingle bolts.  Joseph Hill was a shingle maker, so this was probably a great opportunity for him and probably why they selected Waukegan, although I wonder how they even heard of such a small village in Illinois in the first place.

Wooden shingles were hand made to cover both roofs and the outsides of homes.  Joseph’s handiwork was probably installed on many of the homes that were built for the new residents descending on Little Fort.

wooden shingles

This 1840s building sports a wooden shingle roof.

Joseph and Naby were also recorded in the 1860 census, but Joseph was in his late 60s, nearing 70, by that time.  He was born between 1790 and 1793 in New Hampshire and Naby was born in 1792/1793 in Connecticut.  Joseph gives his age in the 1860 census as 68 years of age.  He has no real estate and no personal cash or anything of value.  He lists himself as a laborer, so at age 68, he is still working.

In the 1870 census, I found a Jo and Nabba Hilon in Hanover, Cook County, Illinois, age 77 and 79, respectively, he born in England and she born in Connecticut. Hanover is  about 35 miles from Waukegan.  I’m not positive this is them, but I hate to think of Joseph performing farm labor at age 79.

Joseph died in 1871, on March 16th.  Waukegan’s paper says he was 80 years and 6 months, which would put his birth in September of 1790 if that was accurate.  This month and year also answers one of the long-standing questions about The Second Joseph. His oldest brother, the first Joseph, died on September 24, 1790.  The Second Joseph was named in honor of his brother, Joseph, just recently deceased.  Now a part of me has to wonder if the two Joseph’s departed and arrived on the same day, hence, why The Second Joseph was named Joseph.  The elder Joseph did not have a son named Joseph.

An aha moment. This “naming” is no longer “strange” but makes sense, well, more sense anyway.

In 1871, there was no obituary as we think of them today, for Joseph, just a death announcement in the local paper.

The Waukegan Weekly Gazette published March 18, 1871 states that “Joseph Hill, of this city, age 80 years and 6 months, died on the 17th instant.”  Instant means this month.

Peterson Funeral Home

Waukegan had a funeral home by then, Peterson’s, which still exists in a wonderful grand old home. Their records indicate that Joseph was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, but no lot number is given.

Peterson Funeral home information:

Age 80
Died of old age.
March 16 1871
lived in Waukegan
buried at Oakwood, nothing more
Book A March 16 1871

Joseph’s daughter, Lucia lost her husband in 1854, before either of her parents died and after only a decade of marriage.

A cemetery lot had been purchased for the family in 1851 when the cemetery was first organized.  The lot had room for 8 graves, so it’s very likely that indeed Joseph and Naby are buried on the same lot with Lucia, her husband and at least two of their children.  The stone of one of the children is shown, below.

Cemetery Weaver

Based on what is known about the cemetery, the burials and the locations with no stones, it’s most likely that Joseph and Nabby are buried in this lovely patch of grass, below.

Cemetery Hill

Within sight, just a few feet away, Rollin is buried as well, having died in the 1918 flu epidemic.  He is buried with his wife who predeceased him in death on her family’s plot.

Cemetery Rollin

Naby died in 1874 and had been living with her daughter Lucia at the time of her death, according to her obituary. The 1871 City Directory even tells us where the daughter was living.  The house still stands.  Peterson’s Funeral Home again tells us she was buried in Oakwood, but no lot number unfortunately.

When you can’t find the location in the cemetery, just set up shop and check FindAGrave on the trunk of your car! Genealogists do whatever is necessary!

Cemetery findagrave

The cemetery is beautiful, overlooking Lake Michigan in the distance. Joseph spent his entire life, it seems, bordering one lake or another.  Rollin is buried in the clump of day lilies, below with the lake in the background.

Cemetery Lake Michigan

Rollin’s obituary tells us more though, as it tells us that Rollin was the last mail stage driver from Waukegan to Chicago.  We know that the train began running in 1855, so he would have no longer driven the stage back and forth to pick up mail.  After that, Rollin became a carpenter and lived most of his life across from the old Court House.  I’m sure he wanted to be right downtown, as the courthouse square was the center of activity in towns of yesteryear.  Everyone went to town to transact business and downtown was a lively bustling place.

Waukegan downtown

Rollin’s obituary also tells us that his first residence “in this vicinity was on a farm on the present site of Great Lakes.”

Great Lakes refers to the Naval Station built in 1906, and this could be where Joseph and Nabby first lived when they arrived. It’s about 3 miles south of present day Waukegan.

Great Lakes Center

For early settlers, this would have been a prime location because it’s located on a creek.

Great Lakes map

Mysteries Remain

While we’ve pieced as much of the life of Joseph together as we can, some mysteries still remain.  Did Joseph and Nabby have other children besides Rachel born in 1815 and Lucia and Rollen born in 1827 and 1836?  Assuredly they did. The census tells of at least 7 by 1830.  Surely some of those children survived.  Women tended to have children every 2 years or so during that timeframe, so we could assume that they had approximately 9 children, given that at least one was born after 1830.  We can probably also presume that not all of those children survived to adulthood.

Based on the 1830 census numbers and their known children, we know of 4 male children and 4 female children, and that’s assuming that only Rollin was born after the 1830 census, which is probably not a legitimate assumption. They could have had 2 or 3 additional children between 1830 and 1836.

In the 1860 census in Waukegan, we find 3 other male Hills who might be connected, although I’ve eliminated at least one of those.  However, there is a Thomas E. Hill who lived one door from Lucia who is a writing teacher who might very well be related, possibly a brother.  He was born in 1832 in Vermont, so is a promising candidate, although I’m unable to find him in the 1850 census.

On an 1861 map, his residence is draw at the corner of Hoyt and Julian. Hoyt is today North Street.  This small house looks to have been his and Lucia lived on one side or the other.

Julian at Hoyt

In the 1900 census, Lucia is shown at 315 Julian Street, so either she moved or the houses have been renumbered, because today the homes above are in the 500 block.

The rest of the Hill men in Waukegan in 1860 were born in New York, and while Joseph and Naby did live there, if indeed Rollen was born in Vermont, and was their youngest child, then it’s unlikely that they moved back and forth from VT to NY to VT to NY.  Moving was not simple.

It’s unlikely that Joseph or Naby Hill had a will.  Joseph had nothing of value in the 1860 census, and he probably didn’t acquire anything between 1860 and 1870 as he got older and could work less.  Naby lived with her daughter, Lucia, before her death in 1874 and likely had contributed anything she had to their household.

I know I checked on wills and probate before, although I do not have a specific note in my files, so I am re-verifying this information.  I have discovered while doing these ancestor articles that by revisiting and confirming my own information, I have found and corrected errors, and sometimes information that was not available before is available now.

Today, Waukegan is a thriving community made up of a harbor, port authority, beach, Abbott Labs and the Great Lakes Navel Training Station.  Although it is north of Chicago, and clearly a Chicago suburb, it has a flavor of its own and a redevelopment effort has revitalized much of the downtown area.

By Éovart Caçeir - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

By Éovart Caçeir – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

This lovely town was built with the labor of our ancestors, beginning back when it was Little Fort.  It’s nice that the cemetery is peaceful and overlooks the harbor.  Joseph and Naby Hill lived most of their lives, it seems, in close proximity to one of the Great Lakes.  It’s fitting that they spend eternity overlooking the shimmering blue waters of Lake Michigan as well.

Lake Michigan

Military Service

Trying to obtain additional information about the Joseph Hill from Vermont who served in the War of 1812 had been an exercise in frustration. I ordered his records from the National Archives in November of 2014, only to be informed they could not find his records.  However, on, records for a Joseph Hill from Vermont are listed thus with file number 55-34054 and the bounty land warrant as well.

Joseph Hill 1812

Of course, the question remains as to whether our Joseph Hill served in the war, or if it as one of the other Joseph Hills. Given that there is a Bounty Land warrant, when the War of 1812 file scanning is completed, I should be able to obtain this information.  The National Archives may not be able to find the file, but apparently Fold3 did.

Joseph Hill 1812 records

The Lake County, Illinois GenWeb site has a list of military pensioners, and Joseph is not among them, but then again, he may never have applied for a pension.

It’s also possible Joseph might have served out of New Hampshire, but I did not find any evidence for service there.  The one Joseph Hill who did serve from New Hampshire also requested a pension from there in 1878.

If he was born in September 1790, he would have been 22 years old and unmarried, ripe pickins in 1812.

One tidbit that may or may not be relevant is that this is the same unit in which Joseph’s wife’s brothers, Joel and Edmund Hall served.

DNA Matching

DNA suggestions that we actually do have the correct Hill family has come in two different forms.

At Ancestry, I have matches with descendants of Joseph Hill and his wife, Nabby. Unfortunately, they have not downloaded to GedMatch, so I can’t tell you how we match, which means I also can’t triangulate that DNA to others.  This comes in the category of “so close but so far away” or a new form of genealogical torture that should be probihited in the Geneva convention.

For a while at Ancestry, I was part of the Joseph Hill and Nabby Hall Circle too. I don’t know if I’m simply not a member anymore, or if the Circle has gone away entirely, but regardless, the Circle is gone from my page and has been for months.  Wonderful…now I have Circle anxiety.

However, I do match several other people who descend from Nabby Hall’s line as well as Joseph’s father’s line, and not just at Ancestry thankfully.

Between these various pieces of DNA and other evidence, I do feel confident we have identified the correct couple as the parents of Rachel Levina Hill – after tracking them from Starksboro, Vermont to Waukegan, Illinois, a place I would never have looked without the notes from Bertha Hanson’s work.

Sometimes, that one critical sentence is all that it takes, even post-humously. Thank you Bertha!!!



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12 thoughts on “Joseph Hill (1790-1871), The Second Joseph, ShingleMaker, 52 Ancestors #116

  1. Roberta, you made my day. Only you would be in the middle of a cemetery with her computer on the truck of her car typing away on the keyboard. Just an example of your love and dedication for those who came before you, and live on through you.

    • The funny thing was that I couldn’t find the graves I was looking for and I was hoping to find a grave on FindAGrave with a photo so I would know what I was looking for and perhaps some orientation as well:) Whoever thought you’d need FindAGrave while IN the cemetery in question:)

  2. You certainly can tell a story! I can add a sidebar: The picture of Oswego, NY in 1855 reminded me that In the summer of 2012, in Oswego harbor, I watched a glorious sunset over Lake Ontario as I sat on the deck of the Blount “Grande Mariner”. We had just arrived from the Erie Canal which was opened in 1825. Perhaps the Hill family travelled by canalboat rather than by wagon. lj

  3. Pingback: Abigail “Nabby” Hall (1792-1874), Pioneer Settler in “Little Fort,” 52 Ancestors #117 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  4. Pingback: Memorial Day – All Gave Some, Some Gave All | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  5. I was facinated with your post, Thank You for sharing.
    I was researching information for our HILL family tree, and out of curiosity, clicked on the link to your post…. as I was reading I determined the Samual Hill you were referring to is our Samual Hill as well. As I scrolled through and read I reached the photo of Sylvanus Hill…WOW!!! I know there are several generations and I believe even different branches between but WOW.The family resemblences are obvious, I was god smacked, I see my Father-the face shape, eyes, forehead,… another connection to include to my ever growing collection. Thank You for sharring your research journey

  6. Roberta, I found your post while researching my 4th grandfather John Hill (1737-1804). His son Francis Hill is my 3rd g-grandfather. Francis and his wife Ruth (Ferguson Hill) are buried in the Starksboro Village Cemetery on rt 116. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thank you for your research and post. I found it while researching my HILL family line. John Hill is my 4th Great Grandfather, I am descendant from his son Lemuel, (1777-1859), and also his daughter Mary (Polly) Hill Smith, (1771-1859). Their children Henry Mitchell “Harry” Hill and Hannah Smith married. I have a DNA kit and will be sending it in. Hope to find you on Ancestry or GedMatch. I am curious about a comment you made about “Lemuel and Sylvanus’ adopted children” being buried at the Hillsboro Cemetery.

  8. Hi there,
    Thank you so much for this posting! My ggg grandparents were William Tasker Hill and Rosina Eaton. My gg grandmother was Miranda Betsy Hill. I have some family scrapbook items that I can share that might help sort all of those Hills out, I also have a photo of Betsy Hill (William’s mother) and a ton of unidentified Hills or people connected to the Hills. Please feel free to contact me through email if you would like to figure out how to post some of the info I have.

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