Grace Hill TeSelle, neice
Kevin Miller, grand-nephew
[editor’s notes by
Larry Pearce, cousin]
I think my first memory about Uncle Carl and Aunt Debbie must have been at the house and farm of my grandparents, Joe and Alice Hill, along what is now Babcock Blvd. in Pine Township, northern Allegheny County, PA . At an early age, I would trudge over to their house, on my own, about a quarter of a mile away, at first by going through the pasture field that separated our houses, then later as I grew older (and trusted to be careful of cars), by walking along the road that led first to the dairy barn and then to their house just beyond.
Sometimes it was being sent by mother on an errand to borrow an ingredient needed for our supper, or to make my pre-supper trip to obtain a milk pail full of milk from Grandma’s refrigerator. For many years we did not have a refrigerator, or even an ice box. The reason was that we did not have electricity at our house. (More about that in another chapter.)
I was in and out of their house a lot, for a good reason or NO reason at all – just visiting. As I got older, my grandmother would ask me to get the mail from the box across the road. Very often she would say, “Maybe there is a letter from Carl” — there was never a letter from Uncle Carl.
Uncle Carl Raymond Hill (1893-1970) sold real estate and lived in Wilmington, Delaware, with his wife, Aunt Debbie. Their only son, Carl Richard Hill (called Richard), was a year or so younger than I. Carl’s wife and son would visit us every few years. They are in the 1931 photo below taken at the time of Joe and Alice’s 45th Wedding Anniversary.
I remember the times when they would come and our family, and maybe some other siblings, would be settled in the evening in Grandparents’ living room and there was much conversation. During that time, Carl would light up his cigar(s) and the smell of the smoke would travel home with us. Every time I smell cigar smoke today I think of Uncle Carl, dressed in elegant clothes (to my mind). I probably fell asleep listening to the talk that swirled around me.
On one visit, those sibling families, the Pearces (sister Bessie), the Millers (sister Myra), the Charles Hills (Carl’s brother) and maybe the Crummys (sister Mayme) (and our family, of course) assembled for a picnic dinner – every one bringing food to contribute to the meal at the home place. For some reason Carl and Charles, and maybe others, had gone on errands or business of some kind and had not returned in time for the meal or the ice cream bars for dessert. In those days ice cream was a real treat. At that time dry ice was packed with the bars to keep them frozen. Aunt Myra had put aside the package containing the bars for the missing men on the top step on the stairs going to the basement. The older kids – my sisters, Mary and Irene, Dale Pearce, probably Nettie and Alice Miller, Jean Ruth Hill — found out where the left over bars were put, and as we were all playing outside (“Andy-Andy over” and some such active games, in the twilight), someone got the idea of going into the basement and up the steps to the delicious prize. I do not know whether we consumed all of them or if we saved enough for the hungry men. But, the aunts were furious when they discovered the theft, of course blaming the older cousins, but we were all contrite. I think I heard the uncles chuckling, so it was not a serious matter to them.
One time Carl came back home alone, but by that time Grandpap had died and Grandmother’s house had been divided with a family of renters, so he stayed in our second floor bedroom, while we girls moved up to the attic, which had been set up as another bedroom. Looking back, he probably came alone because his son Richard (b. 1930) was older by that time and busy with other activities. Carl slept in late most mornings, which made fixing his breakfast an interruption in Mother’s busy schedule of maintaining the produce garden, doing household duties and meal preparation for lunch, etc. Uncle Carl had apparently come in the summer, so Mother had not gone away early to teach school as she did in the fall. Of course we girls helped Mother at all times.
When Uncle Carl died in 1970, I believe that Walter Pearce drove his Mother Bessie, Aunt Myra Miller, and maybe Aunt Mayme Crummy to Delaware for his funeral service. It is my understanding that, unfortunately, there were very few at the service.
[Research is ongoing to determine how it came to be that Uncle Carl and Aunt Debbie are buried in Gilman, IL, as the photo below indicates. It was found on FindaGrave.com. Was there a family plot there connected with either Debbie or son Richard? Was the couple separated at some point, and how could Debbie have lived to be 97, as the stone suggests, without our family knowing? We’ll add to our story as facts are found. See additional editor’s notes below.]
I will always remember that every visit from Uncle Carl was a special event — a man from a far-away land who led a (perhaps) lonely, but certainly prosperous life to a poor Western Pennsylvania farm to visit with excited, close-knit, happy, hard-working parents and siblings and their children.
When cousins Nettie and Jim Stark had a Hill-Miller reunion in the early 1980s, we were visiting Mother from Virginia and thus my late husband Virgil and I were able to attend. Cousin Richard also attended with his second wife. I learned then that Richard had five children: Debbie (b. 1950), Kathy (b. 1956), Spencer (b. 1958), Richard, Jr. (b. 1962), and Steven (b. 1964). He lived then, I believe, in Haddonfield, New Jersey. [See Richard’s obituary below for more details.] Perhaps Richard, like my cousin Carolyn (on my mother’s Fisher side) had not liked being an only child, for she also had five children. I am sorry that Nettie and Alice lost track of Richard after the death of his wife. I wonder if there is anyway to contact any of his children. Perhaps, if you know, you will respond in the inquiry section below.
[Editor’s notes: First, I have posted much about my beloved brother Carl Dale Pearce (1942-2004) at this site. As a matter of information and tribute, he was named for my father Ralph’s Uncle Carl, about whom this story is written. Brother Carl’s middle name was after Ralph’s younger brother Dale, also mentioned above.
Second, I seem to remember my father telling me that his Uncle Carl was also involved in the insurance business at one point. This occupation is certainly not far removed from the real estate business that Grace mentions above, and there may have been a connection to or inspiration from her Grandpa Joe’s insurance business covered in my article “Treasures in a Old Box.”
Finally, this is the obituary for Carl Raymond Hill’s son Carl Richard, found online, which confirms the information in this article. Ironically, my sister Ellen currently lives in The Villages where Richard lived and may have unknowingly crossed paths with him. Ditto for author, niece, and my cousin Grace, who lives just up the road in Gainesville, FL. Additional details are always welcome:
Carl Richard Hill, 90, of Lake City, FL, went to be with our Lord, Monday, October 19, 2020. Mr. Hill was born August 20, 1930 in Wilmington, Delaware to Carl Raymond and Susan Deborah (Spencer) Hill. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Delaware and was a member of Theta Phi Fraternity. Carl served our country in the U.S. Army in Germany during the Korean War. He attended the European Command Intelligence and Military Police School, Intelligence Division from December 10, 1952 to June 11, 1953. He completed the Military Intelligence Service School Tactical Intelligence Specialist course in Nürnberg, Germany in August 1953.
Carl was a retired commercial loan officer. He lived in The Villages from 2007 to 2014 when he moved to Lake City. While living in The Villages, Carl was a member of the German American Club. He was very active and accomplished becoming an Eagle Scout followed by a Sea Scout as a young man. He loved swimming, diving, skiing, hiking, camping, sailing, sailboarding and ballroom dancing. He met his companion, Gloria Robbins while ballroom dancing in 2000. Along with Gloria, he is survived by his children, Deborah Sinclair, Kathryn San, Spencer Hill, Richard Hill and Steven Hill; 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life service will be held 2:00 PM, Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the Banks/Page-Theus Chapel, Wildwood, and via Zoom. On-line condolences may be shared by visiting www.bankspagetheus.com .]
Last revised 4/5/21