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The Hills

            William Hill (1811 – 1880) was the newspaperman of 1838. He started the newspaper, with the backing of Asahel Gridley, Jesse Fell and James Allin in 1837 selling a weekly paper “issued on every Saturday. Office in the white house corner of Madison and Grove Streets.” This was the Bloomington Observer and McLean County Advocate. He and W. B. Brittain brought the printing press and other necessary equipment by way of New Orleans and up the Mississippi to Bloomington so that this small town could begin to document its odyssey. Today the Observer continues, as the Pantagraph. In 1881 there was one copy of the Observer from January 1838, which gave evidence of the many businessmen and professional men in the city. Many of those men did not appear on the 1838 map: E. Boggs, the saddler; J. Ricketts, who made sashes and panel doors; Franklin Brattan, a lawyer operating out of the courthouse; George F. Markley and Stephen A. Douglas, two law partners also in the courthouse; and B.F. Wood, who had just opened a general store.


            Hill’s last descendant to live in McLean County was Abigail Rees (1860 – 1946), a granddaughter. She was an artist and head of the Illinois Wesleyan Fine Arts Department for 19 years. 

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