Joseph Davidson Hill, son of Robert Hill and Rebecca Caldwell, was born on September 4, 1793 on the Hill Farm in Monongalia County, (West) Virginia. Joseph worked on the family farm as a boy and learned early to appreciate the land. On September 19, 1812 he enlisted into service in the War of 1812 serving under Captain Samuel Wilson and Colonel Dudley Evans. Three companies of men, from what was then western Virginia, fought in the campaign of General William Henry Harrison in the northwest in 1812-1813. According to Samuel T. Wiley in his book, “History of Monongalia County,” the men of Captain Samuel Wilson’s Company had to endure, “Great hardships were often experienced in their marches. At times the men had to cut bushes to lie on at night, to keep themselves of out the water.” Two of Joseph’s future brother-in-laws also served with Captain Wilson’s Company, Isaac Dean and William Houston. Joseph was honorably discharged from service on April 7, 1813 at Fort Meigs, Ohio. On April 11, 1851 Joseph received a warrant for 80 acres on Deckers Creek in Morgantown for his service and again on April 25, 1855 he received a second warrant for another 80 acres.
On September 22, 1814 Joseph married Sarah Houston, daughter of Purnell Houston and Mary Carey, at her father’s home in Monongalia County, (West) Virginia. The Reverend Joseph A. Shackelford officiated. Joseph continued the family tradition of farming on land he owned in the Eastern District of Monongalia County. Together the Hills raised seven children. Also living in the home after 1830 was Sarah’s father, Purnell Houston.
In 1832 Purnell applied for a pension that was due him for his service in the Revolutionary War. The pension was co-signed by Joseph Davidson Hill and was approved by the government. In 1834 a government attorney named Washington G. Singleton determined that Purnell had not serviced a sufficient amount of time during the war. He revoked the pension and demanded that the money, $93.25 which Purnell had received, would have to be paid back to the federal government. Before the debt could be collected, Purnell died. Since Joseph Davidson Hill had given his surety on the pension papers, Singleton attached the balance due, to him. Thus began a legal battle between Joseph Davidson Hill and the federal government which lasted several decades! Joseph hired attorneys from Morgantown and Clarksburg, where the United States court was located. In the end he paid out more than the original debt in legal and travel expenses, but he won the court battle on April 3, 1852 when the suit and claim were finally dismissed.
Found in an old Hill Family letter is the note that "Sarah (Houston) Hill wove and spun altar linen from the First Presbyterian Church of Morgantown, West Virginia and napkins made of it are still in the family--1935."
Joseph Davidson Hill died in Monongalia County on August 24, 1859. His wife, Sarah Hill lived in Stewartstown, north of Morgantown and by 1870 she and her daughter, Sophia, were living in Morgantown. Sarah Houston Hill died in 1872. Both Joseph and Sarah Hill are buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Monongalia County, West Virginia.
Children of Joseph Davidson Hill and Sarah Houston:
Family research is a collaborative effort. I would like to thank cousins Don Robinson and Peggy Miller and a wonderful genealogist from Livingston County, Missouri, Sue Jones, who has supplied me with a number of valuable Hill links.
Updated: April 2005
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