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We think you are the descendants of brave men and women. We share your pride in your family history and want to present what we know about some of them.
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Excerpts from Information submitted by Randy Hill
Please contact him for more extensive information.
In August of 1860, the George and Anne Hill family packed up their belongings and traveled to the German port of Bremen where they boarded the bark (small sailing ship) “Gessner” bound for Galveston, Texas. The ship was approximately 114 feet long and no more than 30 feet wide. According to Lloyd’s of London, the Gessner
was a three masted sailing vessel constructed of teak, and featured a bridge deck, a forecastle on the main deck, and only one other deck below. On September 6, 1860, the “Gessner”, piloted by Captain Lankenau, set sail from Bremen’s harbor. Among its 262 passengers were George Hill, Anne Elisa, and their five
Ottilie Fuchs, recalled her feelings as a young girl when she saw the ship that was to take them to Texas in the 1840’s:
“Well do I remember my apprehensions as we boarded this fearsome crate which was to carry us into the New World. Our former home and happy childhood now lay behind us, soon to be followed by more serious times. Yet we were cheerful.here was no lack of singing, everyone attempting to encourage the other, with probably many a secret tear falling into the waves. We hurried towards the sinking sun, the magic West beckoning, as we wondered what the future held in store.”
There is a family tradition that Anne Elisa Hill died at some point during the voyage and was buried at sea. Ship passenger
lists in Galveston mention only “G. Hill, Julius, Christine and Eva.” In late October of 1860 after 52 days at sea, the Hill
family arrived at the port of Galveston, Texas. After disembarking from the Gessner, the Hills gathered their belongings and
made the trip from Galveston to the small German settlement of Industry, Texas. If the story of Anne Elisa’s death and burial at sea is true, George Hill would make the journey to the interior of Texas on his own with his five small children.
By the time the Hills arrived in 1860, Industry had been in existence for about 23 years. On April 18, 1838, Industry’s
founder, Frederich Ernst received a grant of a league of land located in Austin county on Mill Creek. Ernst and his wife
Louise built their first home, a six sided, doorless and windowless structure with a moss roof that provided little protection
from the elements. According to Ernst’s daughter Caroline, it was a, “miserable hut.”
He eventually replaced the original home with a large house that served as an inn. This inn became a meeting place for early
German travelers. Ernst had also built a post office - one of the first in Texas - out of native sandstone in an attempt to speed
communication between settlers and their families. By the late 1830’s Ernst, a former gardener for the Duke of
Oldenburg, had planted a large vegetable garden, peach orchard, and was raising crops of cotton, corn and tobacco. Cigar making became a cottage industry, with handmade cigars being sold to markets in San Felipe, Houston and Galveston. It was this industriousness of the early settlers that earned the town its name - Industry.
The Civil War
Within two months of George Hill’s arrival, the state of Texas joined the Confederate States of America by a vote ratified on
February 23, 1861, and the little settlement of Industry was dragged into the Civil War. Many of the newly arrived German
immigrants who were not yet citizens of their new homeland had little interest in the war, and many did their best to avoid service in it. Several individuals living in the area during the Civil War kept diaries and wrote of their experiences. John Kroulik, a farmer in Industry wrote in his “Memoirs of John Kroulick as recorded by him during the Civil War 1864” how dangerous it was to try to evade the war. All available men were drafted, and those that
refused and tried to evade the draft were pressed into service by force.
Hauling cotton to Mexico
In 1861, as a newcomer to the state, George Hill was neither drafted nor did he immediately sign up for service in the confederacy. In order to support his young family George was among a number of men hired in the
Industry area to haul cotton from Houston to Hempstead, Texas and to the Mexican border town of Matamoras across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, a route that took them through the King Ranch. One of the important strategies of the Union army early in the Civil War was to blockade the Confederate coastline, effectively cutting off Texas’ cotton trade with
European markets. The North could not, however, blockade the Rio Grande because it had been declared an international body of water. Although many of the teamsters were conscripted by the army, George Hill was apparently one of a group of teamsters paid by local merchants who advertised in Texas newspapers, promising nine dollars a day plus ox feed. Conscripted teamsters were paid five dollars a week plus ox feed. Each wagon train had 10 to 15 wagons, and included a small number of saddle horses and extra draft animals. Heading up the wagon train was a wagon master, two section captains, a dozen teamsters, two armed guards and a man to herd the extra animals.
From Matamoras, small steamboats transported the cotton down the Rio Grande to a coastal town called Bagdad, where it
was shipped to oceangoing vessels. By the time the Civil War had ended, over 320,000 bales of cotton had been shipped and the proceeds used to import military supplies, medicines, dry goods, liquors and coffee. After the war, George Hill continued to make trips to Matamoras and Corpus Christi hauling cotton with his son Julius.
Waul’s Texas Legion
In April 1862, the Texas Congress passed a general conscription law, making all white males between the age of eighteen and
thirty-five liable for military service. In September, the age was raised to forty-five. On August 4, 1862, George Hill enlisted as
a private in Company E, Infantry, Waul’s Texas Legion at Camp Waul under Captain Robert Voigt as a substitute for Austin
county businessman, Adam Wangemann of New Ulm, Texas. George was 36 years old. Wangemann, an early settler of New
Ulm and a veteran of the 1847 war against Mexico as a member of Colonel Jack Hays’ regiment of cavalry, hired George Hill
to take his place in Waul’s legion in order to look after private matters. As a regular enlisted private, George Hill would have
made $11 a month. As a substitute, he could have been easily paid three times as much money. Waul’s destination was Vicksburg, Mississippi, although there is some evidence that both the men and the officers were under the impression that they were headed for Arkansas.
On September 17, George Hill and the rest of the men of Company E reached Bosier, Louisiana. By September 30,
Company E had reached Vicksburg riding the railroad to within 28 miles of the town. The men traveled the remainder
of the journey on foot because of some problems with the train, arriving at Holly Springs by midnight on October 10.
By February 21, 1862, George Hill had been reassigned to Company C, 1st Infantry Battalion and he and
the other men were camped at Fort Pemberton, at the junction of the Talahatchee and Yalabusha rivers where
they join to form the Yazoo river.
Back home in Texas, The Bellville Countryman newspaper reported on the progress of Captain Voigt and
Company C ..
Eleven of the original 12 infantry companies surrendered on July 4, 1863 and were paroled. The 12th company
of infantry, Company C, under the command of Robert Voigt was captured eight days later at Yazoo
City. George Hill was among those to be paroled.
After George Hill was paroled at Yazoo City, Mississippi by Major Genral F.J. Herron, on July 13, 1863, he returned to his
home in Industry, Texas.
In 1870 when the U.S. census was taken, George Hill was living in Industry with his second wife Fanny and children,
Julius (age 20), Eve (17), Fritz (12) and Christine (10). Only two of the children lived to be adults - Julius and Fritz. Eva died of
a fever (typhoid or scarlot) and Christine of a digestive ailment. Some say it was caused from eating green peaches and other say from green pecans. Fanny, born in Heidelburg (Wuerttemburg), was fourteen years younger than George. In this same census George Hill lists his occupation as a farmer with his real estate valued at $2,000 and his personal property at $700. Also of interest is the mention of a 25 year old farm laborer from Oldenburge, Germany named Christian, though we have no way of knowing if he was related ti the Hill family or not. After Fanny’s death, George Hill married a third time. On
March 2, 1883, George married Eliza Feiler in Bastrop, Texas. He had courted Eliza by mail. She was from Hamburg, Germany
and the daughter of a silversmith. She brought with her a trousseau of dozens of hand made articles that had been embroidered and marked with monograms.
Three years later in 1886, George Hill died. Among the possessions he left to his wife Eliza was his old musket gun. It hung
on nails above the door of their home for many years until Eliza traded to a Negro farm laborer in barter for work. After the death of George Hill, Eliza married a widower from Paige, Texas named Albert Frey.
George Hill is buried in the Dixon Prairie Cemetery of the
© Copyright Feb 2003 Steve Alvarez
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