Joseph Hillis/John Barnett

Biography courteously provided by Joyce Riedinger, Delaware County Coordinator.


JOSEPH HILLIS is one of the most highly esteemed citizens of Stamford, of which town he is an industrious and successful farmer. His father, Adam Hillis, was a native of Ireland, and came to America when twenty-five years of age. He had received a very good education in his native land, and had taught school fourteen terms. He learned the trade of weaver, but concluded to follow agricultural pursuits and purchased an improved farm of ninety-six acres in Kortright, Delaware County, to which he added from time to time until he became the possessor of two hundred and twenty-seven acres. A hard worker and good manager, he accumulated a comfortable fortune, and died on his farm at the age of seventy-six. His wife was Elizabeth McMurdy, who was born in Kortright, a daughter of an old pioneer settler of that town, Benjamin McMurdy, who was a native of Ireland, and married Elizabeth Shanks, a native of the same country. Benjamin McMurdy was a farmer of progressive habits and much industry, and succeeded in his chosen occupation, residing on his farm until his death, which occurred when he was about eighty years of age. He was a Whig, and, with his wife, a member of the Presbyterian church. They were the parents of three children: David, who died at the age of seventy-seven; Jonathan, at the age of eight-six; and Elizabeth, who passed away when seventy-five years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Adam Hillis were devoted members of the Presbyterian church at South Kortright. He was a supporter of the Democratic party. They were the parents of ten children, eight of whom reached maturity; and three still survive, as follows: Joseph, of whom this sketch is written; David B., a stone-mason in Stamford; and George M., a farmer in Davenport. Jonathan, William, Benjamin, Clark, Sara Jane, Ellen, and Elizabeth have passed away.

Joseph Hillis was born in Kortright, May 28, 1828, and was educated in the district school. Until he was twenty-five years of age he lived at home, but worked for Squire McGillavery, near Bloomville, receiving for his services eight dollars per month, which money he gave to his father. January 12, 1853, he married Miss Margaret D. Barnett, who was born in Roxbury, May 6, 1826, a daughter of John and Eleanor (Voorhis) Barnett. John Barnett was born in Lexington, Greene County, September 22, 1786, and, removing to Delaware County, located in Stamford, where he resided throughout the remainder of his life. He died January 5, 1863. He was a supporter of the Republican party. His wife, Eleanor Voorhis, was born in Schoharie County, January 8, 1793, and died June 16, 1879. Both were faithful members of the Presbyterian church at Hobart. They were the parents of five children, two of whom  Sarah M. McNaught, widow of William McNaught, and Mrs. Hillis still survive. Those who passed away are Christopher, Charity, and David.

After marriage Joseph Hillis purchased his first farm in Stamford, consisting of one hundred and fifty-nine acres; and here he resided for some years, then sold, and in 1860 bought his present home, removing to it in 1865. This farm contains two hundred and thirty acres. It has been cultivated and improved under Mr. Hillis' supervision, and is now one of the best farms in the vicinity. Five children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Hillis, two of who are living, namely: John O., born May 30, 1865, who is a farmer, making his home with his parents, and who married in October, 1886, Miss Belle Kilpatrick, and has one child, Blanche J., born September 15, 1890; Christopher J., a physician in Kingston, born November 30, 1866, who married June 14, 1893, Miss Ella Meeker. The following children have passed away: Sarah E., born October 12, 1853, died June 25, 1865; Barnett A., born April 3, 1857, died July 6, 1865; Ogden B., born January 25, 1862, died September 5, 1865.

Mr. and Mrs. Hillis are members of the Presbyterian church at Hobart, in the affairs of which they take a prominent part, Mr. Hillis holding the office of Trustee. Politically, he is a Republican, supporting the principles of that party.


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