One of Brown county's well-known and enterprising farmers is David Hillyer, who is living near Hiawatha, but is numbered among the native sons of the Buckeye state. His birth occurred in Mahoning county, Ohio, January 24, 1840, his parents being John J. and Eliza (Morris) Hillyer. The paternal grandfather, John Hillyer, was a native of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and a farmer by occupation. On leaving the Keystone state he removed to Ohio and later to Canada, and subsequently took up his residence in Whiteside county,. Illinois, where he died. In politics he was a Whig. His children were Lucius; Toman; John J.; Sarah, wife of J. Vance; Ezra, David and Joseph.
John J. Hillyer, the father of our subject, was born in Pennsylvania and accompanied his parents on their removal to Ohio, where he was married. Later he went to Illinois, where he purchased raw land and improved a farm, upon which he reared his family. His wife died in Illinois, in 1862, and after his children were married he came to Kansas, making his home among those who had settled in that state. He died in Brown county August 11, 1896, at the age of eighty-two years. His children were Anna, wife of A. Kramer; David; Mary, wife of H. Detweiler; Sarah, wife of F. Fry; Emma; John M., a prominent farmer, and Anthony.
Mr. Hillyer, of this review, remained with his parents until after he had attained his majority and in the common schools near his home he was indebted for the educational privileges which were accorded him. In 1860 he was married and rented a farm, devoting his energies to the cultivation of the fields until August, 1862, when, feeling that his country needed his services, he joined the boys in blue of Company B, Seventy-fifth Illinois Infantry, for three years. His regiment was attached to the Army of the Cumberland, General Post being brigade commander of the First Brigade, Fourth Army Corps. The regiment was afterward attached to the Fourteenth Army Corps. Mr. Hillyer saw some hard service, participating in many skirmishes and in all the battles of the regiment. He had many narrow escapes, yet was never wounded or captured, though he was always found at his post of duty until honorably discharged in July, 1865. At the time of Lee's surrender the regiment was in east Tennessee and then marched to Nashville, where it was mustered out, the troops proceeding thence to Chicago, where they received an honorable discharge and were paid.
Mr. Hillyer then returned to his home and family and resumed farming. In 1867, however, he removed westward, taking up his abode in Nebraska, where he remained for two years. In 1869 he came to Brown county, Kansas, purchasing the farm upon which he now lives. He has made all the improvements here, since the time when he built his first log cabin; his tract of timber land he fenced and soon placed it in an arable condition. At the time of his arrival there were few settlers in the neighborhood, but within two years all of the land had been claimed. In 1874 the grasshopper plague occurred, those insects destroying almost everything that was raised in this locality, causing much loss and hardship to the settlers. With determined purpose and unflagging energy, however, Mr. Hillyer continued to work the farm and in time success crowned his efforts. He purchased another quarter-section of land and has aided his children in securing homes. He carries on general farming and stock raising and his labors have been attended by financial success.
In 1860 occurred the marriage of Mr. Hillyer and Miss Lydia A. Campbell., who was born in Cortland county, New York, February 23, 1840, a daughter of Alanson and Mary (Benjamin) Campbell, of New York. The father was a cabinetmaker and with his family removed to Illinois, locating in Dixon, where he was employed in a factory. Later he resided at Lyndon, Whiteside county, and in 1871 he came to Kansas, establishing his home at White Cloud, where his wife died in 1871. In 1873 he returned to Illinois and died in Dixon in 1878. He was a consistent member of the Wesleyan Methodist church. His children were Mrs. Diana Warren, of Dixon; Alfred B., also of Dixon; Lydia A.; Mrs. Melissa Bowman; Alvina, wife of H. Hedglon; Lucina, wife of C. Wilcox; and Sally, wife of D. Sealy.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Hillyer has been blessed with three children: Florence was born December 2, 1860, and is the wife of J. R. Patterson; Alford A. was born August 24, 1866, and is engaged in farming; and Maud was born April 14, 1876. Mrs. Hillyer and her children are all members of the Methodist church. Mr. Hillyer belongs to the Grand Army post of Hiawatha and as a citizen is as true to-day to the duties of citizenship as when he followed the stars and stripes on the battle fields of the south. His business career is creditable and has brought to him well merited success, so that he is now one of the substantial residents of the community.
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