HON. WILLIAM J. HILL
The eventful, useful and honored career in life of W. J. Hill, Mayor of Salinas City, Monterey county, portrayed by the hand of a Mayne Reid or Sylvanus Cobb, would be a recital that would fill us with admiration of his character and class him as one of the heroes among the intrepid frontiersman.
He was born near Prescott, Canada West, in 1840, and came to California in 1862, and after visiting the gold fields of British Columbia entering Alaska, and rambling ever considerable territory he located in Idaho, obtained a stock ranch and established Hill’s Ferry, on the Owyhee river, at the junction of the Chico road from California and the Humboldt road from Nevada. He kept this ferry during the years of 1865, 1866 and 1867, and held the key to the travel on these roads. It was during this period that he was repeatedly attacked by the Indians; fired at more than one hundred times, and was seven times wounded, but always managed to “hold the fort.”
He introduced the first steam-press and published the first daily paper in Idaho. His reputation as an Indian fighter and a brave man had spread throughout the Northwest; and being a man of liberal education, extensive reading and industrious habits, it is not surprising that his paper was the leading one of the territory.
He was elected County Clerk, Sheriff, Tax Collector, Centennial Commissioner from Idaho and tendered the Republican nomination for delegate to Congress. In 1876 he became proprietor of the Salinas Index, which he still publishes, and it is recognized as one of the leading journals of the State. He was elected Senator two terms to represent the Sixth District, embracing the counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito.
In the State Legislature, his force of character and the intelligence he brought to bear on every question he advocated, compelled the respect and admiration of his colleagues. His introduction of, and exhaustive argument on, the famous Debris Repeal Bill, gave him a State-wide reputation. Making no pretensions to oratory as a fine art, he has a ready and forcible style of speech and writing which is at once eloquent and convincing. Through the columns of the Index, and in his public addresses, he has always been a strenuous advocate for the improvement and adornnment (sic) of the city of his adoption, and his election to the position of Mayor of Salinas, 1886 gave him opportunities for carrying his ideas into effect.
Mr. Hill is a leading member of several fraternal organizations. He is Past Master of Salinas Lodge, No. 204, F. & A. M.; Knights Templar Salinas Chapter, R. A. M., and is ninety-fifth degree member of the Royal Masonic Rite. He is Past Master of Sausal Lodge, No. 47, A. O. U. W., and was representative to the Grand Lodge; Master of Salinas Grange; one of the Directors of the Salinas City Board of Trade, Monterey Agricultural Association, and President of the Monterey District Trotting-colt Stables Association.
He is married to a highly accomplished woman, and their only son occupies a home of art and culture in Salinas City, which Major (sic) Hill has done so much to improve and beautify.
“Through heredity and his training on the frontier, Mr. Hill possesses great strength of character, and a marked individuality. An untiring worker, relentless in his determinations when he feels he is right, he possesses withal those qualities of mind and heart which bring to him the warmest friends.”
Transcribed By: Cecelia M. Setty.
Source: “Illustrated Fraternal Directory Including Educational Institutions on the Pacific Coast”, Page 132, Publ. Bancroft Co., San Francisco. Cal. 1889.
© 2012 Cecelia M. Setty.