William H. Hill
Source: Memorial Record of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan; Chicago; Lewis Publishing Company, 1895, p. 158 - 160
W.H. HILL, in his varied business interests, is a fit representative of the thriving town of Manistique, Michigan. Gifts of money, judiciously expended, may add to the beauty and attractive appearance of a place, but the real benefactors of a city are the men who add to its progress and prosperity through the establishment of enterprises which furnish employment to others and thus promote commercial activity. A city may be like an inland lake, beautiful, but still as the waters. It is the one full of life and activity that pleases the Western man, for it is in keeping with the progressive spirit of the age. The growing town of Manistique owes much of its development to Mr. Hill, who stands in the front rank in business circles.
He was born in Livingston county. New York, in 1848, and is a son of Henry F. and Elizabeth A. (Peabody) Hill, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of the Empire State. The father was a Baptist minister, and in that holy calling his entire life was passed. His home in his last days was in Steuben county, New York, and there he passed peacefully away in 1878. In the family were eight children, four of whom are yet living: Henry F., Jr., who is still living in Steuben county; William H.; Charles P., manager of the store of the Chicago Lumbering Company, of Manistique; and Mrs. Harriet L. Straight, of Florence, Colorado.
In the public schools of Rochester, New York, William H. Hill obtained his education, and at the age of sixteen became connected with the lumber business as an employe, skidding logs the first winter in Steuben county. Steadily he worked his way upward, careful to understand every branch of the industry, and his knowledge
of lumbering interests is probably now second to none. At length he purchased a plant in Lindley, New York, and there carried on operations for a number of years as manager and owner. The timber becoming exhausted in that locality he determined to go to the timber regions of the Mississippi valley, which for some years past had attracted wide-spread attention, and in 1884 came to Manistique, forming a connection with the Chicago Lumber Company. The company was organized in October, 1863, the incorporators being John S. Reed, Henry Whitbeck, J. H. Whitbeck, George Whitbeck, Charles T. Harvey and Asa E. Cutler. They carried on operations for a few years, and then formed a joint stock company, Abijah Weston and others coming from Painted Post, New York, and purchasing the entire stock. Mr. Weston was afterward joined by other Eastern men,—Martin H. Quick coming in 1872, George H. Orr in 1873, John D. Mersereau in 1876 and W. H. Hill in 1884. The present officers of the company are Abijah Weston, president; W. H. Hill, superintendent; M. H. Quick, vice president, and John D. Mersereau, secretary and treasurer. The Weston Lumber Company is under the same management and doing business in the same office. This company does an enormous business, handling about 100,000,000 feet of lumber annually, having six office employes and from 1,000 to 1.200 men in the woods. They own their shipping vessels, twelve in number, and ship large quantities of lumber to all lake ports. This company also owns a planing mill and box works, two hotels and a large general mercantile store, where the sales amount to about $260,000 annually. The officers of this company are Abijah Weston, president; George H. Orr, vice president; John D. Mersereau, secretary and treasurer; and M. H. Quick, superintendent.
Other business enterprises with which Mr. Hill is connected are the Weston Furnace Company, the White Marble Lime Company and the Manistique Bank. The first is engaged in the manufacture of Lake Superior charcoal pig iron and the general office and works are located in Manistique, while there is also an office in the Rookery building of Chicago for the accommodation of trade in that region. This company is officered by John D. Mersereau, president; M. H. Quick, vice-president; W. H. Hill, treasurer; and H. Duvall, secretary. The White Marble Lime Company deals extensively in white marble lime, are jobbers in all building materials and cedar products, also in flour, hay and grain. Its officers are George Nicholson, Jr., president; W. H. Hill, vice-president; J. D. Mersereau, secretary and treasurer. The vast volume of business transacted by these various concerns causes a large amount of banking business, and for accommodations of the companies a bank was organized under the name of the Manistique Bank, with Mr. Hill as president; M. H. Quick, vice-president, and H. W. Clarke, cashier. Nothing succeeds like success, and the prosperity that has attended the first organization has extended to all the others until the various industries are numbered among the most prominent and important of the Northern Peninsula.
In 1876 Mr. Hill was united in marriage with Miss Helen M. Leach, of Syracuse, New York, and to them were born three children, two yet living,—Edith M. and Helen E. Grace E., their second born, has been called away. The parents hold membership in the Presbyterian Church.
The policy of the Republican party receives the approval of Mr. Hill, and he sanctions this by his ballot, which supports its men and measures. In 1885 he was elected Supervisor of Manistique and has since held that office, serving as chairman of the Board since 1886. He has been a member of the school board since 1884, and his influence and support have been prominent factors in the development and upbuilding of the city. His own career seems marvelous, yet it is but the natural sequence of knowledge well applied, of business and executive ability and unfaltering purpose. He is a self-made man in the truest sense of that oft misused term, and from the age of sixteen years has depended entirely upon his own resources. The architect of his own fortunes he has builded wisely and well, rearing a structure which is a creditable monument to his ability.