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Dr. George Washington Hill

The namesake of Hillsboro and Hill County was Dr. George Washington Hill. He was born 22 April 1814 in Warren County, Tennessee. He received his Medical degree from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. Hill came to Texas at the age of 23 and began his medical practice at Franklin.

He was appointed Indian agent in 1837 by Sam Houston. In 1838 he established a trading post in what is now Navarro County. He served in the Congress of the Republic of Texas from 1839 to 1842. He served as Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas 1843 to 1845. Dr. Hill was Senator from Henderson, Limestone and Navarro Counties from 1851 to 1852 and in a special session from January 10 to February 7, 1853.

Dr. Hill died 29 May, 1860 and is buried in the Spring Hill cemetery on his home place near Dawson.

The History of Dr. George Washington Hill was presented by Junior Historian Chapter, Hillsboro Junior High School, March 5, 1991

Hill county was organized on May 14, 1853 at the home of Harrison Ables at Lexington on Jack’s Branch:

Judge Presley Donelson of Navarro County presided, and appointed Thomas C. Steiner to preside for Hill County, a Brother of Dr. Joseph of Fort Graham fame. The county was carved out of Robertson Colony, a Mexican grant, with Navarro County, and later left Navarro County with the east boundary being Richland Creek, and the west boundary was the Brazos River where Ft. Graham was built to protect the settlers from the Indians. Many cattle were driven along the Chisholm Trail which paralleled the river. A prison farm was also in this area.

“Its the richest land in the world.” That was the message sent back to relatives and friends in the southern states about the time of the Civil War. Young men came bringing their brides and belongings looking for a better life. They located near streams building log houses and “lean-tos” for storage and to protect their animals. Later big barns were built. If the log house was built strong enough they continued to live in it; if not, a better home was built. Mills were located on streams to supply meal and flour for the family. Many wild animals and birds, especially pigeons, provided food. For entertainment they enjoyed dominoes, dancing, quilting, card games and horse racing. Since tornadoes skipped across the land, most homes had a storm house.

Crops were planted, and cotton was king. At one time, Hill and Ellis Counties were the largest cotton producing counties in Texas. People had the most money in the fall; so merchants usually sent statements only at this time. Children picked cotton; blacks, whites, and browns filled the cotton fields. Cotton picking sacks were from 10 to 14 feet long. There were 75 cotton gins and 30 seed oil mills in Hill County at one time. Sometimes a farmer had his own gin that was small enough to move from one place to another. Johnson grass, a menace to the farmer, was brought from Turkey in 1830 by Col. Wm. Johnson to Alabama and spread through the southern states about the time of the Civil War.

In 1909 there were 108 rural schools: one every three miles. There were 14 independent schools, and some private schools in larger towns. At times the school house served for church meeting places on Sunday. These were cemeteries and brush arbors that were used for summer revivals. Preachers were paid as little as $2.50 for a weeks meeting. Hillsboro Junior College was established in 1923.

Hill County was known for its black land which turned into sticky mud when it rained. When cars became the mode of transportation people had trouble with muddy roads. Trains were good for development of the area. Most towns were located along train routes. The interurban ran between Waco and Dallas from 1913 to 1948, and cost $.25 to ride to Waco and $.35 to Dallas. It was red with yellow trim around the windows and a white top. The freight train was willow green.

Our fifth courthouse burned on a cold misty evening January 1, 1993. That set everything in motion to appreciate and restore the things we have.