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Gabriel Hall Gill

By Spessard Stone

Gabriel H. Gill, a pioneer settler of Fort Green, Florida, was a cattle rancher, farmer and banker.

Gabriel Hall Gill was born August 29, 1858 in Hamilton County, Florida. Generally known as Gabe, he was the third-born of five sons of William and Elizabeth (Coulter) Gill.

William Gill, then a 30-year-old Georgia-born farmer, was enumerated in the 1860 census of Hamilton County, Florida. He had $1,500 in realty and $1,000 in personal property. Living with him and Elizabeth were their three Florida-born sons: William A., age 6; James F., age 4; Gabriel, age 2. Born afterwards were two more sons, John W. Gill (1861) and George H. Gill (1863).

According to A Brief History of Hamilton County, William Gill served as a Confederate soldier. He died prior to 1866. In 1866, Elizabeth Gill (1830-1912) married (2) Archibald William Hendry, son of John Hendry, Jr. (1810-1891) and his first wife, Clarissa (Maulden) Hendry (died 1848).

Archibald W. Hendry (1846-1920), during the Civil War, had served as a private in Co. B, Second Florida Cavalry, United States Army, from May 15, 1864 to November 29, 1865. About 1870, he and Elizabeth moved from Hamilton County to Fort Green, Manatee (now Hardee) County, where he was a farmer, notary public and postmaster. As guardian of the Gill children, he on April 17, 1878 executed a deed for 338 acres in Hamilton County.

Elizabeth and Archibald W. Hendry had: John A. (1867-1925, a Methodist minister), William A. (1868-1948, a banker and Hardee County Representative in 1937), Avannah (Mrs. James Elam Alderman, 1870-1950), Harry (who died in childhood), Judith (Mrs. James Lucian Durrance, 1873-1927), Archibald B. (1875- 1899, a Methodist minister) and Sanky (1877-1886).

In Manatee County on November 4, 1880, Gabriel Hall Gill married Georgia Hendry, who was born June 18, 1863 in Hamilton County, Florida. She was the fourth-born of five children of John Hendry, Jr. (1810-1891) and his second wife, Margaret (Cheshire) Hendry (1826-1899), whom he had married in Hamilton County on May 19, 1855. Prior to 1870, the family moved to Fort Green.

Gabriel and Georgia Gill were enumerated in household # 99, Fort Green, 1900 census of DeSoto County. Boarding with them was Jackson Rich, a 21-year-old laborer. Neighbors included Alfred & Emma Hendry, John W. & Mary Holloway, James & Frances Rich, William & Margaret Scott.

Jean Plowden in History of Hardee County wrote:

"The town of Bowling Green was incorporated in 1905, and J. R. Vaughn was the first mayor. About the same year, 1905, in the rear of T. R. Starke & Co. store, the first bank was organized. It was known as W. R. Minor & Co., bankers, and was a private institution.
"On April 22, 1908, the bank was organized as the State Bank of Bowling Green. G. H. Gill was president and W. R. Minor cashier. These officers continued to guide the destinies of the institution for twenty years, until their deaths in 1928. The bank was closed for about a month during the summer of 1929, due to a financial crisis in the state, but reopened on August 20, 1929. J. H. Durrance is president; W. A. Hendry, vice-president; T. H. Jones, cashier, and Miss Marcia H. Minor, assistant cashier. The bank serves the entire town and community and has many depositors scattered throughout the county."

Gabriel Hall Gill died March 11, 1928 and was buried in Fort Green Methodist Cemetery.

On March 27, 1925, G. H. Gill made his last will and testament, which was filed April 2, 1928.

In the "Preamble" he stated in part his philosophy of life:

“In the years which have been allotted to me to spend upon this earth it has been my one great desire to leave to my posterity the heritage of a good name.
“My earnest effort has been to so conduct myself and to live that the name which I bear and which I am leaving to my family would be one of honor to them and honored by the people with whom they may associate.
“My faith in life and the life hereafter is built on my regard and my love of honor, integrity and virtue - honesty of purpose - integrity in dealing with my fellow man - and virtuous in morals - these have been my creed."

He further expressed his high regard for his banking associates and close friends, William R. Minor, and the Board of Directors of the State Bank of Bowling Green: J. H. Durrance, W. F. Timmerman, W. F. Fortson, U. A. Driggers and W. A. Hendry.

To his wife, Georgia Gill, he bequeathed $20,000 in trust. To his son-in-law, W. W. Rich, and grandson, Charles J. Rich, he willed $5,000 in trust. The balance of his estate, including his bank stock, was devised with some stipulations to his children: John E. Gill, F. W. Gill, Pearlie Skipper, Maude McEachern and Leila Stewart.

Georgia Hendry Gill died July 21, 1943 and was buried in Fort Green Methodist Cemetery.

Issue of Gabriel Hall and Georgia (Hendry) Gill:

1. Infant daughter, who, age one day, died December 18, 1882.
2. Dora M. Gill, born May 1884; died 1953; married (1) W. W. Rich (1877-1932), (2) William Vergil Alderman (1887-1964).
3. Pearl Gill, born January 6, 1888; died December 1976; married Leslie R. Skipper (1884-1953).
4. Leila Gill, born April 14, 1890; died July 20, 1986; married Paul J. Stewart (1886-1966).
5. Margaret Maude Gill, born June 28, 1892; died December 20, 1952; married T. A. McEachern.
6. Fred W. Gill, born September 1, 1898; died March 1975; married Rosa Walker (1902-1995).
7. John E. Gill, born August 21, 1900; died October 23, 1971; married Edna Kennedy (1914-1987).

References: Spessard Stone, John and William, Sons of Robert Hendry, 1989; 1860 census of Hamilton County, Fla.; Cora Hinton, A Brief History of Hamilton County; 1900 census of DeSoto County, Florida; Jean Plowden, History of Hardee County,1929; H. Lamar Stewart of Frostproof provided a copy of G. H. Gill's will and some data on the family.

This profile was published in The Herald-Advocate of November 17, 1994.

February 15, 2001, revised April 29, 2002