The commercial history of Henry would be incomplete without mention of Richard E. HILLS, who for many years figured prominently in business circles here and his activity and enterprise made him a leading merchant and gained him a gratifying measure of success. He was born in Waterloo, Seneca county, New York, January 24, 1825, and was a representative of an old New England family, his parents being Elisha and Elizabeth (CATLIN) HILLS. The father was born in Connecticut and for forty years engaged in merchandising in Waterloo, New York, where his death occurred in 1856. His wife has also passed away. In their family were eight children, but only two are now living, the daughter being Helen P. HILLS, who resides in Chicago.
Richard E. HILLS, reared under the parental roof, acquired his early education in the public schools of Waterloo and afterward attended the academy there. Throughout his active business career he was identified with commercial interests and while still living in the east engaged in the grocery and dry-goods business on his own account. The west, however, attracted him and in 1855 he became a resident of St. Charles, Illinois, where he established a store which he conducted for ten years. He then came to Henry, where he purchased a business which he carried on for thirty consecutive years and then sold out to C. E. SMITH, who still occupies the same location. Thus the name of Richard E. HILLS is inseparably interwoven with the commercial records of the city. He always carried a well selected and large line of goods and made every effort to please his patrons. His business methods were such as would bear the closest investigation and scrutiny and his commercial integrity and honor were unassailable. As the years passed by he prospered and in the evening of life he retired to enjoy throughout his remaining days a well-earned rest.
Mr. HILLS was married in 1849 to Miss Elizabeth F. OWENS, of Geneva, New York, and for many years they traveled life's journey together, but were separated through the death of the wife in 1883. Mr. HILLS is a republican in his political views, having supported the party since its organization. For one term he served as alderman of the third ward in Henry. He has preferred that his public service, however, should be done as a private citizen rather than an office holder, and he has withheld his support from no plan or purpose for the general good. He favors the Presbyterian church, and a life of business integrity and his probity in public and private affairs have gained for him a foremost place as a representative and honored resident of Henry.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from
Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties