The eventful, useful and honored career in life
of W. J. Hill, Mayor of Salinas City, Monterey county, portrayed by the hand of
a Mayne Reid or Sylvanus
Cobb, would be a recital that would fill us with admiration of his character
and class him as one of the heroes among the intrepid frontiersman.
He was born near Prescott, Canada
West, in 1840, and came to California in 1862, and after visiting the gold
fields of British Columbia entering Alaska, and rambling ever considerable
territory he located in Idaho, obtained a stock ranch and established Hill’s
Ferry, on the Owyhee river, at the junction of the Chico road from California
and the Humboldt road from Nevada. He kept this ferry during the years of 1865,
1866 and 1867, and held the key to the travel on these roads. It was during
this period that he was repeatedly attacked by the Indians; fired at more than
one hundred times, and was seven times wounded, but always managed to “hold the
He introduced the first steam-press
and published the first daily paper in Idaho. His reputation as an Indian
fighter and a brave man had spread throughout the Northwest; and being a man of
liberal education, extensive reading and industrious habits, it is not
surprising that his paper was the leading one of the territory.
He was elected County Clerk,
Sheriff, Tax Collector, Centennial Commissioner from
Idaho and tendered the Republican nomination for delegate to Congress. In 1876
he became proprietor of the Salinas Index,
which he still publishes, and it is recognized as one of the leading journals
of the State. He was elected Senator two terms to represent the Sixth District,
embracing the counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito.
In the State Legislature, his force
of character and the intelligence he brought to bear on every question he advocated, compelled the respect and admiration of his
colleagues. His introduction of, and exhaustive argument on, the famous Debris
Repeal Bill, gave him a State-wide reputation. Making no pretensions to oratory
as a fine art, he has a ready and forcible style of speech and writing which is
at once eloquent and convincing. Through the columns of the Index, and in his public addresses, he
has always been a strenuous advocate for the improvement and adornnment (sic) of the city of his adoption, and his
election to the position of Mayor of Salinas, 1886 gave him opportunities for
carrying his ideas into effect.
Mr. Hill is a leading member of
several fraternal organizations. He is Past Master of Salinas Lodge, No. 204,
F. & A. M.; Knights Templar Salinas Chapter, R. A. M., and is ninety-fifth
degree member of the Royal Masonic Rite. He is Past Master of Sausal Lodge, No. 47, A. O. U. W., and was representative
to the Grand Lodge; Master of Salinas Grange; one of the Directors of the
Salinas City Board of Trade, Monterey Agricultural Association, and President
of the Monterey District Trotting-colt Stables Association.
He is married to a highly
accomplished woman, and their only son occupies a home of art and culture in
Salinas City, which Major (sic) Hill has done so much to improve and beautify.
“Through heredity and his training
on the frontier, Mr. Hill possesses great strength of character, and a marked
individuality. An untiring worker, relentless in his determinations when he
feels he is right, he possesses withal those qualities of mind and heart which
bring to him the warmest friends.”
Transcribed By: Cecelia M. Setty.
Source: “Illustrated Fraternal Directory Including
Educational Institutions on the Pacific Coast”, Page 132, Publ. Bancroft
Co., San Francisco. Cal. 1889.
© 2012 Cecelia