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 James William Hill and Clara Douglass

Contributed by Kathleen Hill

© 2002 

James William Hill was born November 6, 1875, in the Rock Bridge-Fountain Head area of Sumner County. He was the youngest of three children born to Civil War veteran Sgt. Robert Gwyn Hill and Sophia Malinda Reddick. He attended rural schools and later a training school in Gallatin. Throughout his youth he attended Dry Fork Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church, where his father had been Clerk of the Sessions. Later in life he became a member of the Gallatin Methodist Church.

James married Clara Douglass May 3, 1905, in Sumner County. Clara was born in 1878, the daughter of Wylie J. Douglass and Helen Doubleday. Clara’s mother died when she was a young girl. James and Clara had two daughters.

After his marriage to Clara, the families of James and his father Robert purchased a 115-acre farm on the Long Hollow Pike. James and his father worked together in the nursery business until Robert’s death in 1911. After his mother’s death in 1914, James’ maiden aunt, Dealia Hill, lived with James and Clara’s family until her death in 1923.

The Hill family farm is now the Long Hollow Pike Golf Course and James’ old home is the course’s Clubhouse. The Frakes’ family graveyard was already on this land when James and his father bought the property. (Andrew Frakes, 1822-1863, and his wife Elizabeth J. Frakes, 1826-1891, are buried there.)

In 1914, and again in 1918, James was elected Circuit Court Clerk of Sumner County, a position he filled until 1919. On March 1, 1919, James became the Chief Clerk of the State Treasurer’s Office in Nashville, a position he held for eight years. He then served as Journal Clerk for the State Senate until his death. He was also a member of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. While maintaining his farm on Long Hollow Pike, James rode the train into Nashville every day to his jobs in the State government. He also remained active in Sumner County public affairs as a member of the Community Club of Gallatin.

A brief biography of James appeared in a book titled, "Tennessee, The Volunteer State, 1769-1923", volume IV, page 276, published in 1923, by the S. J. Clarke Publishing Company of Chicago and Nashville. It stated, in part, that James was, "fraternally, a Consistory Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine", and that, "he has always voted with the Democratic party and his religious faith is that of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which indicates the principles that have guided him in the active affairs and relations of life, making him a man worthy of the confidence and high esteem accorded him".

The older daughter of James and Clara was Bernice, born March 28, 1907. Bernice married Norval Sanders Douglass June 8, 1931, in Sumner County. Bernice and Norval had two daughters, Dorothy Ann and Elise. Norval had been born in Sumner County in 1903 and died there in 1969. Norval is buried in the Hill family plot at Gallatin Cemetery. Bernice died in Gallatin in September 1982.

The younger daughter of James and Clara was Elizabeth, born December 31, 1911. Elizabeth married Thomas Oliver Barnett September 10, 1938, in Sumner County. Thomas was born October 12, 1898, in Hardin County, TN. His boyhood home was on the edge of the Battlefield of Shiloh. Elizabeth and Thomas had two children, Thomas, Jr. and Betty. Elizabeth died February 3, 2002, in North Carolina and Thomas died January 23, 1979. They are buried together at the Shiloh Methodist Church Cemetery in Shiloh National Park, TN.

James died May 10, 1929, at the age of 59, after surgery at Barr Hospital in Nashville. (See his Obituary posted on this site). Clara died in Sumner County in 1959. In 1911, James had purchased the Hill family plot at Gallatin Cemetery. James and Clara are buried there along with James’ parents, sister, brother, sister-in-law, son-in-law, and his two maiden aunts.

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