Bio: Hill, George Miles (1923)

Contact: Ken Wood

Surnames: Hill, Berry, Miles, Jackson, Mitchell, Garrsion, Weaver, Whittlesey, Witter, MacKercher, Kruger, Otto, Bell

----Source: History of Wood County, Wis. (1923) pages 305-307

George Miles Hill, one of the most active factors in the progress and development of the city of Wis. Rapids, was born on a farm in Allamakee Township, Allamakee County, Iowa, Feb. 28, 1857, son of Stephen G. and Axie (Berry) Hill. Both parents were from New England, the father being a native of Vermont and the mother of Maine. They were married in a town in the eastern part of Vermont and subsequently came West, stopping for a time at Beloit, Wis., and then settling in Iowa, Allamakee County being in the northeastern corner of that state. There Mrs. Stephen G. Hill died one month after the birth of her son George Miles, and her husband survived her but two years. Thus orphaned in infancy, George M. Hill was received into the home of his maternal grandparents at Waukon, Iowa, and lived with them until he was ten years old, as a boy attending district school. He then came to Centralia, Wood County, Wis., to live with Manley and Biancy Hill, the former of whom was his uncle. He began business life as clerk in the drug store of H. T. Panter & Co., on the west bank of the river, but after a few months left them to enter the employ of H. B. Philleo & Co., on the east side of the stream. He thus acquired a knowledge of pharmacy. Two years later the store and business were purchased by H. W. Jackson, who was then post master, and Mr. Hill worked for him until Mr. Jackson sold out to J. B. Mitchell. Then a co-partnership was formed consisting of Messrs. Mitchell and F. Garrison, under the style of J. B. Mitchell & Co., which lasted several years. Then Mr. Mitchell sold to Archie Weaver, the name of the firm being changed to Garrison & Weaver, Mr. Hill continuing in the business. Mr. Garrison later bought Mr. Weaver's interest and the business was continued under the name of F. Garrison, Mr. Hill still continuing in the business. Then, on the admittance of S. N. Whittlesey, the style became Garrison & Whittlesey, with which concern Mr. Hill was connected for five or six years. Another change took place in 1885 when Mr. Whittlesey sold to F. Garrison. He continued until 1887, when Mr. J. D. Witter bought the interest of Mr. Garrison, the firm becoming G. M. Hill & Co., a partnership having been formed between Messrs. Hill and Witter. A consolidation with N. Johnson & Co. changed the style to Johnson, Hill & Co., and about 1898 the concern was incorporated as the Johnson & Hill Co., with Mr. Hill as president, several of the employees, namely, Dan MacKercher, C.F. Kruger and A. C. Otto, who had been sold stock, being taken into the business. Later their interests were purchased and in 1910 the company began the erection of the large store now operated under the name of Johnson & Hill Co., which is one of the largest department stores to be found in any city of the size of Wis. Rapids, and larger than many in places of much greater population. In 1919 Mr. Hill sold out his interest in the concern. From 1910 he had been a silent partner in the Rood Construction Co., and he has since given active attention to its work and interests, being now its president. The concern is engaged in dredging, tiling, road building and railroad construction work and manufactures its own equipment. Mr. Hill was one of the incorporators of the Consolidated Water Power Co. and Paper Mill, in which he is a stockholder. He is also a director and secretary of the Grand Rapids Street Railroad Co., of which he was one of the organizers, and in addition he has large cranberry interests. Politically he is a strong Republican, and has been locally active in his party's policies and in civic improvement work. It was at his suggestion that the streets running in one direction were designated by numbers and those crossing them by names, which has proved a useful arrangement. During the participation of this country in the World War, furnishing four sons to the service, he took an active part in Red Cross drives and other patriotic work. He helped to get the waterworks on the Centralia side of the river, and did much to promote the consolidation of the two cities by influencing the council to have the question decided by the people at the polls. A member of the Congregational church, he was on its board of trustees at the time the church building was erected, and also served 12 years as superintendent of the Sunday school. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Masons, Knights of Pythias, Elks, and a Rotarian. Mr. Hill was married Jan. 1, 1889, to Eva May Bell, of Vesper, this county, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Bell. He and his wife have had six children, two of whom are deceased. Kenneth C. was drowned at the age of ten years, and Clark R. died at the age of-three. The survivors are: Earl M., employed in the sales department of the Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co.; George C., secretary of the Rood Construction Co., Harold E., connected with the Rood Construction Co., and Leslie E., who is in the manufacturing department of the Rood Construction Co. Mrs. G. M. Hill is prominent in social work. She is a member of the Eastern Star Chapter of which she was formerly one of the grand officers; has been secretary of the hospital board for eight years; served two years as president of the local Federation of Women's Clubs, and is a member of the advisory board of the Social Welfare Campaign. She also taught a girls' class for 20 years in the Congregational Sunday school.



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