Buchanan Houston Hill (1878 - 1964)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Mount Vernon, Westchester, New York
Death: Died in Richmond, Virginia
Occupation: Salesman
Managed by: Stillman Foote Westbrook III
Last Updated:

About Buchanan Houston Hill

He was known by his middle name, pronounced not like the city in Texas but as houseton, and was named for a good friend of his father's at the time of his birth.

After starting out working for his brother-in-law, George Binney, he gradually built his own business, called the "Steam Equipment Company." Through this company he marketed manufacturers' valves, boilers, and soot blowers to the steel companies at Pittsburgh. This business evidently worked by selling a few large items each year, with lengthy periods between sales. The Depression produced such a period, and several years passed then without any sales, causing the obvious problems. Only with the coming of World War II did the business really become dependable.

I recall hearing several stories associated with my grandfather's lengthy bachelor years in Pittsburgh. The favorite was the time he took a dare that caused him to swim around the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, and supposedly nearly ended the relationship with my grandmother. Earlier his scrapbooks indicate lots of activities with new cars, including an unusually adventurous trip across the Alleghenies in one of his first ones.

He was a charming, energetic, sociable man who enjoyed outdoor activities, cars, sailing, and especially a good party. He was at ease with most everyone, and was enjoyed by all, and as a result had an endless list of friends. Along with this he was demanding, meticulous and sometimes excitable. I remember my grandparents' home as constantly active and exciting, lots of people and lots of discussion, often very animated. As I became old enough to join in his daily routine, we developed what I felt was a close and personal relationship. My grandmother often commented that there was a "charm" to the Hill's and that my grandfather's personality exemplified it.

During the Depression, the family was offered the use of a cabin in the Georgian Bay near Point au Baril, Ontario. Three summers were spent there in ultimate rustic-ness, enjoyed by my grandfather and endured by my more urban grandmother. After the war, they purchased a summer home at Van Buren Bay, New York, and enjoyed several years of vacations there. Over all these years they traveled widely, often going to Florida or the West Indies for a month in the winter. During my childhood they always came to the beach in New Jersey for a couple of weeks in the summer. There, while in his eighties, he taught my sister and I to swim in the surf.

In 1929 they moved to 5818 Kentucky Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 1948 to 711 St. James Street, Pittsburgh. In 1953 they retired to Cobbs Creek, Mathews County, Virginia, on the Piankatank River. They were members of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, and of Kingston Episcopal Parish in Mathews.

The house in Cobbs Creek was the last house on the left, at the end of a short road (Rt 630) off VA Highway 198. At the corner was a cabin, labeled for a time "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which precipitated several conversations. The house had a bright red roof and was situated high above the Piankatank on constantly eroding cliffs. Next to it was a working farm with a cornfield leading down to a farmhouse and barnyard on a spectacular bend in the river. We often visited the animals there. My grandparents enlarged the house and built an extra garage, but were frustrated in their efforts to improve the waterfront by a series of hurricanes in the late 1950's.

I enjoyed many vacations there, including a Christmas, and nearly every spring vacation. Once my parents chartered a yawl at Annapolis and sailed it down the Bay while Ellen and I waited. My great grandmother, Nana, lived there as well, and we became her roommates on the second floor when we visited. It seemed like I was always being occupied with my grandfather's chores of burning the trash or mowing the grass, depending on the season. Then there were the regular trips to the "Courthouse" for groceries or the Post Office. Never did one of these trips take place without endless visiting with just about anyone they ran into. Happily, when I was a little older I would regularly be dropped off at Yorktown or Williamsburg for my own explorations, sparing me the agony of shopping with the rest of the family.

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Buchanan Houston Hill's Timeline

1878
January 1, 1878
Mount Vernon, Westchester, New York
1923
February 23, 1923
Age 45
New York City, New York
1929
May 28, 1929
Age 51
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1964
January 7, 1964
Age 86
Richmond, Virginia
1964
Age 86
Washington, District of Columbia