William Samuel Hill

(30 May 1855 - 2 November 1924)


William Samuel Hill was born in Tasmania, in Westbury near Launceston, but lived in at least three other states. Here is young Billy Hill, looking to me like a bit of a desperado, with a couple of sidekicks, ready for whatever trouble the mean streets of Adelaide might bring.

He was the son of Sarah Fox who was born in Port Louis, Mauritius, and Thomas Hill, who married her there. She was a widow who had been married to James Mills, with whom she had had a daughter called Anna Maria. Sarah and her daughter were brought to Tasmania by her second husband, who worked as a stonemason near Launceston, where their son William was born in 1855, and also later a daughter, Emily Ann, in 1859.

Sarah Hill brought her three children to Victoria, with or without husband Thomas, in 1873.

William married Margaret Roberts in Melbourne (her home town) 31 December 1877, when they were both 22 - and this photo may have been taken then or at about that time (someone has written under the photo 'W & M Hill') - but they must have gone to South Australia almost immediately, as their first five children were born in Adelaide, 1879-1885. They then appear to have returned to Victoria as the last two were born in Melbourne, 1888 and 1891. In 1885, he was serving in the Water Police at Port Darwin and living in Palmerston (which was renamed 'Darwin' in 1910). Then in about 1899 he took his wife and remaining four children (three [or five?] boys having died in very early childhood) to Western Australia to make his fortune (or not) on the goldfields.

Billy's time in the Territory may not have been long. The Northern Territory Times of 29 August 1885 reports this.

The Minister of Education, in reply to Mr Moule, today, stated that he had his attention drawn to a letter signed by W.S. Hill, in reference to the management of the Police Department in the Northern Territory, and had found on enquiry that the writer W.S. Hill was a man who had been discharged from the Police force in Palmerston for disobedience of orders.

A week earlier, the NT Times and Gazette had the beginning of the story.

William Samuel Hill, the police trooper lately discharged from the Palmerston force, has written a letter to the Advertiser, describing his experiences in Palmerston, and alleging that he has been unfairly treated by Inspector Foelsche. He is applying for redress and compensation.

(The letter is available here.)

So perhaps I'm right in thinking that Billy Hill looks like a bit of a wild one in that earlier photo.

Margaret died after only two years in the appalling conditions on the fields, of tuberculosis, in 1901. She was buried at Yundamindera Cemetery. This is a photo of what is thought by Alex Palmer (to whom we are all grateful) to be her grave. He writes this.

The next [grave] in line has been carefully prepared by a loving bereaved person, probably Sam [Billy] Hill husband of Margaret Hill. The grave was once carefully lined with boulders and a large ironstone rock stands proud as a headstone. All is still in fair shape. (Palmer: 56)

Apart from a brief return to his earlier occupation as a bootmaker in Kalgoorlie, Wm Samuel pretty much stuck at mining. Alex Palmer describes him as being by about 1906 the sole occupant of what had been the town of Linden.

W S (Billy) Hill, together with his ten dogs and as many goats were the only sign of life on the field. Over the years he had built himself a battery from the scrap of the abandoned shows. Its two stamps were kept moving by a long doglegged arm that buckled in the middle about ten times an hour. Each buckle meant a drop. It worked, but its through put [sic] at the best was five ton a month. The coughing and spluttering associated with its operation acquired it the name of the consumptive battery. (Palmer: 78)

The 'consumptive' epithet is not very amusing, given that Billy's wife died of consumption (tuberculosis).

Here's a mining inspector's report from 1907. It refers to a letter that Billy Hill had written, which the inspector supports, requesting that a battery be supplied by the government not far from his mine at Linden.

I am enclosing a copy of a letter from Mr. W. S. Hill who owns a small ore crushing plant 210 chains south of Mt. Linden. ... He has a water shaft 80 ft. deep ... This locality appears, at first sight, to be the best for any proposed battery, as there is a splendid catchment at the Carbine Creek, which runs about 300 yards west of the water shaft, and a basin where a dam could cheaply be made. Mr. Hill also owns a fresh water well ...

Palmer writes:

WSH remained at Linden until 1914 [tho he doesn't say what happened to any of his children] living on his homestead lease and operating the Great Carbine mine (in the photo), from which he did quite well. He left the district and later died at Claremont WA on the 2-12-1924 [sic]. He was buried at Karrakatta Cemetery. (Palmer: 82) Here is his death certificate.

He was indeed buried at Karrakatta Cemetery, and here is a photo of his unmarked grave. (At Anglican JA0409.) If he 'did quite well', he didn't provide for any monument to himself. Except, of course, all his descendants!

William Samuel and Margaret (Roberts) Hill's seven children were: Hugh, Lionel and Leonard - who all died in earliest infancy - Beatrice Harriet, Ethel May, Leslie Lewis, and Elizabeth Mary (Elsie). The first five children were born in Adelaide, and the last two in Melbourne. Beatrice married Robert Raftis and had five daughters: Ellen, Beatrice, Margaret, Mary and Hanoria.
Leslie Hill enlisted 17 February 1915 and saw active service in France. He was wounded 19 September 1917, sustaining a compound fracture of the left femur, which led to him being discharged 30 August 1918 with a 1914-1915 Star, a British War Medal and a Victory medal. His sister Ethel wrote him a letter in verse, addressed to 'Les', which has survived (as a handwritten copy) in the possession of GMG . He married, but had no children.

References

Coate, Yvonne E. & Kevin Coate, More Lonely Graves of Western Australia, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, WA, 2000.
Palmer, Alex, Yundamindra: Its Towns, Mines, People and Station, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, WA, 2006.
Acknowledgements
Many thanks to fellow descendant Adrian Spall for almost all of the above, including the photos of WSH, and the research.


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