John J. Hill
John J. Hill, a noted shipbuilder and expert draughtsman, is an American of old New England stock, his father, John Hill, having been born in Danby, Vermont, and his mother, whose maiden name was Jerusha Culver Freeman, in New London, Conn. His paternal grandmother was named King, and was a descendant of an old Puritan family. Capt. Samuel Freeman, the grandfather on the maternal side, was a noted ocean navigator and was in command of a full rigged ship; he was in harbor at Port au Prince at the time of the massacre of the whites by the Negroes. Grandfather Hill removed from Vermont in 1817, locating in Mansville, Jefferson county, N. Y.; in his family were Elisha; Joseph; Job; John; Enos; Charles; and Julia Ann, who became the wife of a Mr. Leland, a volunteer in the Civil war (he was killed in battle in 1863). Grandfather Freeman removed from New London, Conn., to Oswego, N. Y.; in his family were the following: Jerusha, mother of our subject; Mary, who married William Kniffin, of Oswego; and William, who went to South America when he was seventeen years old, and was never heard of until after his death.
To John and Jerusha Culver (Freeman) Hill were born: Edward, who died in the year 1877; Charles, who died February 11, 1897; Mary, who died in 1848; John J., mentioned below; and Helen, who became the wife of William H. Watters, a banker in Miller, Hand Co., S. Dak., and died at Aurora, Neb., in 1878.
John J. Hill acquired his education in the public schools of Sodus Point, N. Y., and in the year 1858 went to work in the shipyards of Henry Doville and David Rogers at that place, remaining three years. He then went to Olcott, N. Y., thence to Pultneyville, where he lengthened the schooner Petrel for Capt. Brit Brewer. He then went to Chicago and entered the employ of Doolittle & Alcott, shipbuilders, remaining about one year. In 1864 he returned to Pultneyville, thence to Cooper's Town, N. Y., where he built two yachts, a club boat and several small pleasure boats, and after a visit to Albany he returned and built the schooner John J. Hill, eighty-nine tons register. That fall he again went to Chicago, and was employed in the shipyard of Doolittle & Alcott. In the spring of 1865 he shipped before the mast in the schooner Mediterranean, and after leaving her helped to build the schooner William Hunter. In 1866 he associated with W. B. Morley in the ship building business at Sodus Point, and after rebuilding the schooner S. P. Johnson, he engaged as foreman in George F. Hardinson's shipyard at Charlotte, N. Y. In 1868 he went to Vermilion, Ohio, and worked on the schooner Annie P. Grover. After the completion of that contract, he entered the employ of E. M. Peck in Cleveland, who was building a steamer for the Northern Transportation Company. This was followed by shipyard work in Toledo for D. & J. E. Bailey, and in Springwalls Dry Dock in Detroit; thence to Port Huron, where he worked for Fitzgerald, and finally to Chicago. In 1869 he went to Marine City and again formed a partnership with W. R. Morley under the firm name of Morley & Hill, which has continued in force up to this time. Mr. C. T. Morley, in the meantime, has also been admitted as a partner. Mr. Hill has built several vessels in addition to those constructed by the firm, namely: The steamer Robert Holland, schooner Planet, steamers Minneapolis, Abercorn, City of New Baltimore, Northerner and Santa Maria. At times, in 1870-71, when his shipyard was slack, he worked in Fitzgerald & Layton's yard at Port Huron.
Mr. Hill is a thirty-second degree Mason, a Noble of the Mystic Shrine, a member of the Knights of Pythias, and of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
On April 23, 1872, Mr. Hill was wedded to Frances Cornelia, the talented daughter of Robert P. and Eliza (Tressler) Durling. One daughter, Mabel Maud, is the only child born of this union. The family homestead is a fine structure on Main street, Marine City, Mich., and though it contains many works of art, Mr. Hill and his good wife look upon their daughter as the chief ornament. Miss Mabel is a graduate of St. Mary's Academy of Monroe, Mich., which she attended seven years; her diploma gives her high honors in her class, especially as an artist of rare talent. She has had instruction from excellent teachers, and by virtue of her intuitive taste for art has become a skillful worker. The walls of her home have been adorned with delightful landscape paintings in oil, water color and pastel; her embroidery on satin, some of which has been upholstered, is so natural in design, so rich in execution as to recall the famous contest between the Greek painters, Zeuxis and Parrhasius. There are also many handsome pieces of fruit and flowers in wax and a delicate hand painted set of china. Among the other gems of which this young lady is the designer are portfolios filled with pretty sketches and several marine subjects, which are treated as well on canvas as are builded the ships on the stocks by her father. Of a truth Miss Mabel has, by inception and industry made the interior of her home an abiding place of art.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.