which was formerly located on the southwestern corner of Center and
Washington streets. He purchased the land from William Allison in
1851 for $85. His widow, Rebecca, sold the home 48 years later in
1899 to Carry Shelly for $2,900.
If Dr. Hill were to have listed his professions during the 61
years of his life, they would have included tanner, lawyer, physician,
politician, historian, clerk, principal, orator, and newspaper publisher.
Born in Marshall County, Virginia, in 1823, he came to Ohio
as a child with his parents. As a young man, he became an apprentice
to a tanner, and while he was learning the trade, he studied evenings
and weekends with Dr. Lorin Andrews at the Ashland Academy. Five years later, he was admitted to the bar.
He then served a year as principal of the Loudonville Academy before taking a political position as official reported for the Ohio Senate, followed by an appointment to serve as a first class clerk in the Treasury of the United States.
It was during his five year period in Washington that he studied evenings at the medical department of Georgetown College and was awarded a degree in 1859. He then served as a volunteer surgeon at the Battle of Bull Run.
Then came a change in administration. Abraham Lincoln was elected president, and Hill was without a job. He returned to Ashland in 1862 and practiced medicine for only five years. He then served two terms as prosecuting attorney and went back to Columbus in 1868 as the official reporter for the Senate. In the same year, he purchased the “Ashland Union” and changed the name to “The States and the Union.”
A lifelong Democrat, he was a delegate to the Baltimore Democratic national convention, but parted company with the party over their nomination of Horace Greeley for president.
In 1873, as a delegate to the Ohio Constitutional convention, he opposed any schemes to deplete the Treasury and increase burdens on the people.
Hill then sold the paper to William Gates and B.F. Nelson and the paper became the “Press”.
One of his greatest honors came in 1876 when he was chosen to deliver the address at United States’ Centennial celebration in Ashland. In the same year, he began writing “The History of Ashland County,” completing it in 1880. Disappointed with initial sales of the book, he is said to have burned several copies in his back yard. He also wrote histories for Marion, Wyandot, and Allen counties.
On May 17, 1850, he married Rebecca Draper, and the couple had three children, Ida Rena, Margaret Amanda and William Duane. Rena studied abroad and became an artist who for a time enjoyed success. When her style of painting lost its popularity, she became distraught and died penniless in a New York tenement fire.
Amanda, too, showed artistic talents and constructed a dollhouse with furniture to scale which is a replica of a home that formerly was located on Washington Street. Although now 100 years old, the doll house is still in good condition. The dollhouse and several of Rena Hill’s paintings are on display at the Ashland County Historical Society.
The Hill home passed through two other owners between 1899 and 1910 when it was purchased by the trustees of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks Lodge 1360 for $15,000.
The Elks had organized the previous year in a meeting held at the Knights of Pythias hall in the Mason building on Main Street. T.S. Brindle, T.E. Shinn, Dr. E.O. Furrow and Herbert E. Echelberger were the first officers.
For nearly 50 years, the home served as the Elks lodge until 1966, when it was razed and replaced by the brick building on the same lot today.
History of Ashland County, Ohio
By George William Hill