Sunday, December 31, 2006

Some Family History

I'm trying something totally foreign to me today in my blogging experience. I'm trying to place a photo into this particular blog but I have no clue as to whether I am doing this correctly or not.

The photo shown here is of my Dad's family - although not all of his siblings are shown on the picture, nor do I know the exact year it was taken, I would estimate it was probably taken around 1912. Shown here are from left to right, front row - Bill, Lizzie and Archie Hill. In the back row, from left to right are Alex, George and Jim Hill, the latter being my Dad. Missing from this photo, for some reason or other, is my uncle, Robert "Rab" Hill, who if present would be between my Dad in the back row and Uncle Arch, in the front row. I think I have the names listed correctly for them although I am not completely sure on the back row because I can't seem to get the lovely photo software, that one that you've heard me complain frequently about in that I don't think they should call it "easyshare" since I have yet to find anything easy at all about their darned software. (Normally, I tend to think KODAK is a great product, but with this particular thing, I think they need to make it a whole lot easier to work with if they want to label it as "Easyshare."

My plan here was to post the photo of my dad, his brothers and the older of his sisters but apparently blogger doesn't want to cooperate and allow me to upload the other photo I have which is just of my Dad's three sisters.

The title "Saying Goodbye?" is because all but one of my dad's siblings are gone now. The only remaining child of the ten children of George and Janet Nelson Hill is my youngest aunt - now 89 years old and in a nursing home.

So far, I have been unable to locate any old - very old - photographs of just my grandparents to try to post and share here.

My great-grandparents,George and Christina Hunter Hill, on this side of my family were both born in Scotland. My grandfather, the oldest child also named George, was a year old when his parents came to America and originally settled in eastern Pennsylvania where my grandfather worked as a coal miner - I believe this was up in Tioga County, around Arnot, PA. They moved from their to central Pennsylvania for a short time, then to Morris, Illinois where my great-grandmother was killed in 1884, having been run over by a train. At that time, they had I 6 children, the youngest - a daughter, was about 7 years old. My great-grandfather moved back east, apparently wrote to someone in Scotland about a lady who must have been a family friend or acquaintance, and she,Mary Todd, being a widow with two sons, came to this country and they were married shortly thereafter and had six children. I

George and Mary Todd Hill lived for a while in central Pennsylvania but for some reason, they moved out west and settled in Grand Coulee, Cascade County in the state of Montana. Somewhere, in the old boxes of pictures that had belonged to my Dad, there are snapshots taken back in the 30's sometime when he drove my grandmother and I think two of my aunts from the family homestead here in Morrisdale, PA out to Montana and at least a some of my aunts met some of the Hill Family from out west.

I got interested in family tree stuff a long time ago but really had very little means of trying to research the background on my Dad's family. But back in 1999, when I purchased a computer, one of the first things I did was to try to find geneology resources to track as much as possible, my family tree on both sides of my Dad's family as well as both sides of my Mom's family. I was posting query after query on numerous websites with what little information I had on my great-grandparents and one day, came across a query that looked like it had potential.

The surname listing was HILL - ok, that's a good start but Geez, Louise, there are only a kazillion Hill in this world, so why would I think this one might have possibilities? Because the poster had stated Scotland as their country of origin and then, states in the US, PA, ILL, Montana and Arizona. The Illinois entry there kind of threw me because I had never heard about them living there, but I did know that one of my great-uncles from Montana - later lived in Wyoming and the one for whom my Dad was named too - had daughters who lived in Arizona. I knew that from some correspondence I had taken upon myself to write to them back in the late 50's when I first started to get interested in learning about my roots. So, I queried back, said I thought maybe we might have a connection, might be related and the answer I received back from this lady was "You bet your bippy we are related, kid!"

And the best part of "meeting" this cousin online was that she had been working on family tree stuff at that time for over 13 years and had a complete workup of all my great-grandparents children, grandchidren almost all their great-grandchildren and further down that line now too! All, that is, with the exception being my Grandfather's family because he was the only one of 12 children who decided to make Pennsylvania his home! My grandparents did live in Montana for a short period of time though and my Dad was the only one of their 10 children who just happened to have made his entrance into the world in a little place called Carbonado, Montana, in February of 1901!

Through this cousin, Evelyn Hill Sturm, I received a copy of all the family tree work she had completed at that time and I gladly supplied her with what information I had on my Dad, his siblings and the descendants of my grandparents, George and Janet Nelson Hill. Cousin Evelyn and I still correspond from time to time although not much of what we send back and forth now has much to do with family tree informaton. I'm not sure but she may have slowed down a good bit in the data she had researched and was entering into her tree over the past couple of years.

But through her, I know I have relatives all throughout the western part of the country - Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and even up into Canada, I believe in Calgary area. That data, I would have to pull up my tree and do a search and destroy type mission to figure out which of my grandfather's sisters moved up to Canada.

I'm still as fascinated today as I was back in 1999, when cousin Evelyn Sturm first sent me her data on our tree and there is nothing I would love more - save maybe a trip to Scotland and Sweden to trace the family's beginnings in those two countries - than to meet her, be able to someday visit in Cascade County Montana and maybe see some of the homes my ancestors lived in, meet other cousins and learn, through meetings like that, more about who I am by virtue of family traits shared by many of us with this Hill family connection.

By the way, prior to doing this research, I had no knowledge about any special naming traditions in Scottish families but I now know my grandparents followed that tradition very strictly. Their first child, a son, was named George - after his father, grandfather and great-grandfather too as near as we've been able to trace records. My next uncle, Alex - known as "Eck" -was named for my Grandma Hill's father, Alexander Nelson. Then my Dad, Jim, was named for his Dad's brother Jim; Robert or "Rab" was named after my Grammy's brother, Robert; Arch, for G-gradpa's brother Arch; my aunt, Elizabeth - or "Lizzie" - was named for my Grammy's older sister; the twin boys - John and William - were named after Grammy's half-brothers, my Aunt Jeanette or "Aunt Sis" was named for her mother (Janet NElson Hill) and my youngest aunt, Anna Mae, known to almost everyone though as "Mike" was named after two of Grammy's half-sisters! And amongst the grandchildren - my first cousins - many of us were named too after this or that ancestor. Even down to my oldest grandson whose name is Alexander and, at first blush, one could say he was named fully after my great-grandfather -his great-great-grandfather - but it just happened quite by accident (luck of the draw) that my daughter and her husband at the time, both liked the name Alexander. It wasn't until he was about 6 weeks old and we were up at my Aunt Mike's house - the family homestead - that she asked my daughter if she planned to call him Alex, Alexander or maybe "Eck." My daughter was totally confused by the question but it was then that the naming system hit me and although they hadn't thought of his name being the same as his great-great-grandfather's was, it's become a nice way to think of the family lineage and continuity there from that!

And for me, growing up as I did where I never knew my Dad, had no idea what he was like as a person, learning through family stories about him as well as many, many other relatives, it's been a way by which I have learned more about who I am, inside and the whys about me that until working on the family tree, I had no answers.

Not that I know completely to this day, who I am and why, where did this or that ALL come from, at least I have a little more of an inkling as to the origins now.

More family history to follow - hopefully with some other old photos too!

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