From Roger Hillhouse
of San Diego, California:
I have transcribed Uncle Dob's Diary into text files. I don't know if you are familiar with Uncle Dob's Diary or not -- he was James Dobbins HILLHOUSE, b. Giles County, TN in 10 Sep 1815, immigrated to Barry County, MO in 1836, married, farmed, raised a family, and kept a diary from 1844 through 1893, missing the war years and the beginning of the City of Aurora. His children married into the Young, Hight, Neece, Calhoun, and Allen families.
This is a copy of a copy typed on lined notebook paper with erasures and pen-and-ink corrections. I am checking it against a published copy sent to me by Marilyn Whitaker (one of Uncle Dob's descendants) who got it from Mrs Elaine Fyr of Monett. She is also a descendant of Uncle Dob. Elaine has run out of published copies of the diary and Marilyn asked Elaine about posting the diary to the web and she agreed. Copyright 1999 Elaine Fyr and Roger Hillhouse.
In late 1844 James Dobbins Hillhouse began keeping a diary much of which is still in existence, though evidently his first book was damaged and only a part could be copied into another one. It covers much of his life, including years in which he was a resident of a young Aurora and gives a graphic picture of life more than a century ago.
So, while in point of time it antedates Ambling the Alleys, the contents of this diary will follow that account of early-day Aurora as the Advertisements Centennial Scrapbook feature. Every effort will be made to reproduce it exactly, but differences in spelling and terms and items which no longer exist and have to be guessed at may lead to errors, which we hope will be minor and few in number. The first installment appears here.
Uncle Dob's obituary as it appeared in The Aurora Advertiser:
J. D. Hillhouse was born September 10, 1815 in Giles County, Tennessee. In the spring of 1836, at the age of 21 he went to Arkansas. He had a good four-year-old horse that he called Mike which he used for riding through the swamps and swimming the rivers, until he reached the home of his brother-in-law, Raney Belew. The first work he did was hewing out a mill frame. When that was done he employed to a man by the name of Thomas Allen and worked all that fall. Six moths before he was ready to start to Missouri, he wrote to his brother E.B. Hillhouse, that he would take dinner with him on the next Christmas day. The letter had to go down the Arkansas River, up the Mississippi River, and then to Springfield which was E.B. Hillhouse's post office at that time. He beat the letter there, leaving Arkansas on his nice bay horse, he came by way of Fayetteville, Ark. and Cassville, Mo. He stopped with Moar Gibson where Verona now stands arriving on Christmas Eve. Desiring to make his word good with his brother and eat Christmas dinner with him he left the next morning for his brothers home, going across Lick Prairie. He said it was the coldest day he ever saw in Missouri. Arriving on time he found his brother's wife cooking a hogs head for dinner. Being quite hungry E.B. Hillhouse had cut off an ear from the head and was preparing for a lunch when he saw his brother coming. He put the ear in the pocket of an old-fashioned jacket which he wore, where it remained until the next day when, in want of a string, he put his hand into his pocket and found the lunch he had prepared the day before.
He was married to Nancy Gibson September 15, 1837. To them were born eight children, five being dead and three living, James H., Rebecca J., Robert D., Levi G., George A., John W., Irvin D., and Nancy E. There was 38 grandchildren and 60 great grandchildren. In the year 1837 he and his wife moved upon a piece of land which he improved with one horse. His first wagon was made of wheels cut off a log with shafts put in for Mike to pull by. His first horse collar was made of shucks and his first pair of lines was hickory bark. He made fifty crops on that farm when old age compelled him to quit farming. He was a good mechanic, being able to make a wagon. He tanned his own leather and made all of the shoes for the family. Game was plentiful at that time. At one time he saw one hundred deer, and at another saw one hundred and thirteen. There were plenty of fish and small game.
He professed faith in Christ when he was twenty years of age and joined the Presbyterian Church in Tennessee. In 1839 he united with the Center Creek congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in which communion they both lived until their deaths. All these years he was an earnest worker. He assisted in the organization of the first Sunday School west of the Mississippi River, and there remained a worker all his life, being superintendent of the home department until a short time before his death. He lived to see all of his children converted and become members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He reared four grandchildren and lived to see them converted and become members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. October 28, 1867, he and his wife, by a contribution to thirty dollars he was made a life member of the American Bible Society. He was a strong temperance man, never taking the first dram of whiskey. His family were all temperance workers using neither intoxicants nor tobacco.
He was a Benton Democrat until 1860. He was a Union man and was a soldier for a short time. In 1861 he sent three boys into the Union Army who were in several bloody battles, but reached home alright. He had one grandson with Dewey at the battle of Manila, James Hardy Hillhouse, who was on board the Baltimore. He was elected assessor of Lawrence County five times and appointed once, serving twelve years in all. On one of his campaigns the candidates met to declare themselves for the different offices. At the meeting the hat was passed asking all the candidates for a quarter with which to buy whiskey. When he told them that he had no quarter for them they said to him, "Are you a candidate and refuse to help buy whiskey?" He replied that if one dram would insure his election, he would not give it. The other candidates made up the money, sent to the still-house, got the whiskey, and brought it on the grounds in an old-fashioned churn.
He died on the morning of the 13th of April, 1902. He said, "I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith, and there is a crown for me." His funeral took place in the Old Zion Church yard April 14th, with hundreds of friends present to mourn their loss. The funeral sermon was preached by Rev. I.V. Stines and assisted by Revs. G.G. Harbour, J.D. Springer, and W.K. Howe.
Copyright 1999 Elaine Fyr and Roger Hillhouse.
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