ABRAM M. HILTS
A respected resident of Knight’s Ferry, Abram Miles Hilts, arrived in California in 1852, reaching Stockton on the 6th of September. Almost the width of the continent separates him from his birthplace, which is Schoharie County, New York, his natal day being September 28, 1833. The family is of German lineage, for his grandfather, Theobald Hilts, immigrated from Germany to the new world, locating in Schoharie County, New York, among its pioneer settlers. There Christian Hilts, the father of our subject, was born. He married Jannette Schell, also a native of that county and they were respected farming people, members of the Presbyterian Church. Their lives exemplified their Christian faith. Three children were born of their marriage, of which Mr. Hilts and his sister Catherine now survive, the latter being the wife of Menzo Watson, of Selma, Alabama. Both the father and the grandfather of our subject lived to be eighty-eight years of age, and the mother was eighty years of age when called to her final rest. Their fidelity and worthy principles won them the respect and friendship of all with whom they came in contact.
Mr. Hilts of this review was seventeen years of age when he left home and entered upon an independent career. He had previously learned the carpenter’s trade. He came to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and after spending four years in Stockton he removed to Knight’s Ferry, where he engaged in the express business with his uncle. They also purchased gold dust and their speculations in the precious metal proved profitable. Later Mr. Hilts conducted a livery business for three years. On selling out he turned his attention to merchandising in Copperopolis, where he remained until the town began to decline, for the mining interests of that region became exhausted. He then returned to Knight’s Ferry and followed carpentering until 1870, and then under the administration of General Grant he was appointed to a government position in the appraiser’s department of the custom-house, where he was employed for eighteen years, or until the middle of President Cleveland’s first term, when he was succeeded by a Democrat. Again he went to Knight’s Ferry and was engaged in agricultural pursuits in Stanislaus County, having fourteen hundred acres of wheat and pasture land. This, however, is now rented and he has retired from active business, having acquired a handsome competence that enables him to put aside business cares and enjoy life as he sees fit, his necessities being supplied by the fruits of his former toil.
In 1858 Mr. Hilts was married to Miss Susan R. Bishop, a native of Zanesville, Ohio, and a lady of English lineage, and who, after a useful life, passed away January 24, 1884. Four children blessed their union, namely: Sarah B., born November 1, 1862, who is now acting as her father’s housekeeper; Violet B., born June 24, 1868, and now the wife of William Cowin, a railroad employee; Callie F., born February 2, 1871, now the wife of Henry L. Clark, whose home is at Port Costa; and Janette S., the oldest of the children, born April 13, 1860, died in September, 1871.
Mr. Hilts was reared in the Democratic faith and supported Douglas, but at the time of the Civil War he became a strong Union man and joined the Republican Party, which gave so many defenders to the government when it was imperiled. He has since voted with that party, being an inflexible adherent of its principles. An honorable retirement from labor is a fitting reward of a well-spent life, and this Mr. Hilts is now enjoying. Through many years he vigorously prosecuted his business interests, and his diligence, indefatigable energy and strong resolution enabled him to conquer all the difficulties and obstacles in his path, and to wrest fortune from the hands of fate. His characteristics are those which go to make up an honorable manhood, and through the years of his business career he ever enjoyed the confidence and respect of those with whom he was associated.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.