The Maxie and Mollie Hill Family Pictures

Hill Cemetery background as inscribed on the Historical Marker

"Upon this Hill" - A Short History of the Hill Family by Elmer O. Hill

1992 Dedication Photographs of the Hill Cemetery Historical Marker



The Maxie Gregg Hill / Mollie Eugenia Dominy Family

This is the earliest picture we have of the Maxie Gregg Hill / Mollie E Dominy Family; click on the picture for a larger version.  The date is estimated at 1902-1905.  We can identify some of the folks in the picture, but could use help in identifying all of the persons here.  If you know the identities of all or part, please contact us via the admin email address on the main page.  Thanks!

This is a later picture of the Maxie Gregg Hill / Mollie E Dominy Family.  The photo date is estimated at 1913-1915.  Everyone in the picture has been identified and numbered.  Click the picture and a larger version (without numbers) will open for viewing or saving.  Please let us know if you see errors in identification.


1.    Grace Julia Hill  (1907-1998)    Married Leslie Oran Baker
2.    Fred Worren (Dock) Westbrook ( 1912-2001)    Married Pauline Francis McQueen
3.    Hugh Edward Westbrook  (1884-1957)   
Married Willie Henry Hill
4.    Oma Dell Westbrook  (1910-1996)    
Married Elvin Carlton Gibson
5.    Willie Henry ( Hill) Westbrook  (1889-1976)     Married Hugh Edward Westbrook
6.    Joe Gregg Hill   (1905-1961)
7.    Maxie Gregg Hill  (1859-1935)   Married Mollie E Dominy
8.    Dixie Hill   (1909-1947)
9.    Mollie Eugenia (Dominy) Hill   (1869-1942)    Married Maxie Gregg Hill
10.  Maxie Virgil (Bug) Hill  (1888-1978)    Married Ollie Dora Westbrook
11.  Deb Eugene Hill  (1911-1997)    Married Marie Reeves
12.  Tina Irene Hill  (1903-1994)   Married R M ( Marshall) Troutman
13.  Ollie Dora Westbrook Hill  (1889-1972)   Married Maxie Virgil (Bug) Hill
14.  Mary Jane Hill  (1901-1977)    Married Henry Aaron Goodman
15.  Henry Braswell   (Unknown)
16.  Effie Arty Hill    (1897-1983)   
Married Eddie Dominy
17.  Henry Curtis Hill   (1887-1982)     
Married Helen O'Neil
18.  Cornelia Hill    (1893-1980)
19.  James Hogg "Jim" Hill   (1890-1968)   
Married Henrietta Troutman
20.  Nettie Ida Hill   (1896-1995)      Married John William Westbrook
21.  Thomas Matchett Hill   (1895-1970)    Married Winnie Clark 
22.  Ralph Eugene Davis    (1913-2002)    
23.  Samuel Falcon Davis  (1883-1973)     Married Jennie Eugenia Hill 
24.  Jennie Eugenia (Hill) Davis   (1892-1965)    Married Samuel Falcon Davis 
25.  Fred Coleman Hill    (1899-1970)      Married Ella Mae Troutman 

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Hill Cemetery history as noted on the State of Texas Historical Marker in place at the cemetery:

     The Hill Family Cemetery was established in November 1900 when Maxie Gregg Hill (1857-1935) and his wife Mollie (Dominy) (1859-1947) set aside a plot of land on their farm to bury their son, Dudley, who died at the age of four months.  Maxie Gregg and Mollie Hill, eleven of their sixteen children, and several generations of their descendants are interred in the Hill Cemetery.  It has been the site of numerous family reunions over the years.  Among the graves here are those of veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam.  

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A Short History of the Hill Family
Elmer O. Hill
 Maxie and Mollie Hill


     Among he whispers of the cedar trees, there lies the silence of another generation, another time, and another place.  How did they come to rest upon this hill?  What story do they have to tell?

     If one listens carefully to the sounds, on can hear the voices of the past as they tell the story that intertwines the past to the present.  That story is the story of the Hill family.


     A tragic era that no one wished to remember, but yet they must recognize that the years between 1860 -1865 changed the face of the nation.  The war, the Civil War--the War between the States--whatever one calls it, broke the country into the grey and the blue.  What caused this war?  Was it slavery, states' rights, or economical differences?  The destruction of the South would be complete.

     A strong, tall, handsome man, William H. Hill, a graduate of West Point Military Academy in New York, made the choice to fight for the South.  He believed in states' rights but not in the idea that the South had the right to secede from the Union.  Refusing an officer's commission, he fought as a private with the Confederate States of America.

     The end of this was brought freedom for the slaves and the final economical destruction of the South.  In 1864, when William returned to his home in Soda, Texas in Polk County, the fires of the war were not over.  The scars would burn deeply into the minds of the returning men.  William, with the lost sense of self worth became dependent upon the almighty bottle filled with alcohol.  His children suffered from the lack of an education, which William could have given them.

     But the strong hand  rocks the cradle, and the Hill children would learn from their mother, Mary Jane Gregg Hill, who had attended a small Presbyterian College in South Carolina.  She taught her seven childern the basic elements of writing, reading, and arithmetic.  From her love of learning, her fourth son Maxie Gregg, born on October 8, 1859, would continue his studies and succeed as a self-educated man.

     Gregg, as he was called, spent his teen years rounding up and branding cattle.  Instead of wages, he took his pay in cattle, which was the beginning of his herd.

     "Young man, go west," said the sounds within Gregg's twenty-two year old mind.  In 1884, the west he sought came to life at Pennington, Texas.  Needing a trade, he was hired by Blackshire General merchandising Store.  There two young people would meet and two hearts would interwine their lives.

     "Where are we going?  Why are we going?  How long will it take us to get there?"  The young six year old girl with the many questions was the second child of Ben and Martha Jane Hendley Dominy.  Born on March 17, 1869, in Lawrenceville, Henry County, alabama, she was leaving that home with her parents and her grandparents, the Hendleys.  The sign on the door would read, "Gone to Texas."

     The covered wagons with a milk cow tied to the back of one were ready to leave Lawrenceville for the difficult journey along the Old Spanish Road.  This was the summer of 1875.

     The adventures along the way would be numerous.  Not long after entering Mississippi, the axle broke, which meant that Ben had to take it to Waynesboro.  Two days would be spent at the camp, which was near water.  Cooking was done in cast iron pots over an open camp fire.  As the night came upon them, the beds were placed beneath the wagons.  If the rain came, a wagon sheet was thrown over the wagon to keep the sleeping family dry.

     "Come on, Molly, you are too slow," John, who was two years older, would yell at his sister.  The children walked behind the wagon.  Sometimes, when they would tire, they would ride for a few miles.

     Among her many cherished memories Molly would share with her family was the one very special camp and evening spent at a plantation in Louisiana.  Not only was Ben given permission to camp, but he was also given an invitation to the evening meal as well as a visit with the owners.  Molly had a new friend, the owner's daughter, who was about the same age.  Some ideas are not new to this generation.  Molly was invited to sleep over.  Molly followed her friend to the bedroom.  The hours spent in playing were special, as well as the cake and the glass of cold apple juice.

      The next morning after breakfast, Molly had to leave her friend and return to the camp.  She appreciated their kindness, and she let them know by her joyful thank you.  Upon returning to camp, Molly's childish voice yelled in excitement, "Maw, Paw, I slept in the most wonderful bed.  It was a feather bed.  I got the best nights sleep that I have ever had."

     Where was this plantation?  From the vague description given by Molly, it is believed that it was Melrose Plantation in Louisiana.

     They crossed the Sabine at the Port of Milam which marked their arrival into Texas.  The westward journey took the family into San Augustine and a camp at Senora de Los Delores Mission, which was at the crossroads of the Spanish Road and the Nacogdoches and Liberty Road.

     From the mission the journey turned southward along the Nacogdoches and Liberty Road.  At fort Teran they crossed the Neches River and arrived in Chester where several days were spent visiting Ben's brother Frederich, who came to Texas before the Civil War.

     The day came for the two families to say goodbye.  Ben chose to travel westward along the Bedias Trail.  If one studies the history of this trail, they will discover various names have been used.  Since it was used by Spanish explorers, it was called the Trail of the Spanish Explorers.  From the cattle drives to Louisiana it was called the Beef Trail.  Probably one of the most colorful names was the Horse Thief Trail, which was from the men who illegally entered during the Mixican rule of Texas and rounded up wild horses, drove them into Louisiana, and sold them to the United States Army.

     The trail made its way through Corrigan, to Sumpter, the county seat of Trinity County but now is deserted.  The trail made it way into the area that we know as Groveton.  To follow that trail today, one would go through the buildings of the Groveton Schools.  Ben and his family made their last camp at the present day Rhindson Spring.

     "Home at last we are home," yelled Molly as she looked around the land in Houston county.  "But, Paw, we don't have a house.  Are we always going to camp out?  Who's going to build us a house?"

     "Not to worry, little Molly.  My brothers and their families, as well as the neighbors will have a house raising for us."

     The house built in 1876 was a double pen house with a dog trot and a mud fireplace at each end.  The little girl would grow and attend the Dominy School which was near her home.

     Ben purchased his supplies from the Blackshire Store in Pennington.  Molly would often go on these trips.  there at the store she would make eye contact with a young fellow--Gregg Hill and their hearts would become as one on April 11, 1886.

     Home, a rented house and land from Molly's cousin Alexander Blackshire, was in Trinity County about a mile southeast of Ben Dominy's home.  This home saw the birth of five of their sixteen children.

     In the fall of 1892, Gregg and Molly purchased on hundred and eighty acres of land and improvements, which was about a mile northwest of where they were renting.  This home was i n Houston, County.  It was here that their children, fifteen out of sixteen, would grow to be adults.

     Gregg and Molly obtained a few head of cattle, which were purchased by helping other cattlemen with the cattle drives.  This bartering method was common in the South, since there was very little money.

     Gregg took a trip back to Polk County to drive his cattle to his new home.  When he was ready to leave, his brother Harry decided to help.    

     As the mist of the morning was beginning to break in the east, the cattle drive to Pennington would begin.  To insure that the cattle would be tired by nightfall, the crew drove the cattle hard through Livingston and across the ford at Kickapoo Creek, where they made camp on the west side of the creek.  The cattle were bunched up and bedded down for the night.

     "Listen, I hear riders.  They are coming from the direction that we drove the cattle."

     The riders stopped.  Looked around.  Surveyed the camp.  Dismounted their horses and made camp. 

     Gregg, being cautious, posted his men and informed them to keep watch.  "You never know whether they are friends or foes."

     As the sun began to rise, Gregg, standing on the bank of the creek, saw a man on the opposite side.  Breathing a sigh of relief, he knew that they were friends--Joe Scott Evans and his brothers.

     "Get the breakfast ready.  We have friends here."  The Hill crew and the Evans' brothers joined in helping drive the cattle through Groveton.  Late afternoon saw the cattle and Gregg home.

     Gregg and Molly's dream was to have a prosperous farm with good crops and fine cattle.  There was only one small problem.  Gregg, who could study theories on farming, did not have the practical knowledge.  Who was to help in this area?  Prayers are often answered ni unusual ways.  This answered prayer came from a former slave named Joe, or as he was to be called Uncle Joe.

     "Mr. Hill, I need work.  I can plant, hoe or whatever you need."

     "Joe, I have no money."

     "Mr. Hill, you give me food and a place to live, and I will work for that instead of wages as I cannot make it trying to work for other.

     Gregg and Molly built him a small cabin and gave him food.  In return, Uncle Joe taught Gregg how to farm.  With Gregg's theories and Joe's practicality, the farm fulfilled all the dreams.

     These were happy years.  The children were growing into young men and women, who attended school, had fun, but yet learned.  One of them would even go on to finish at Sam Houston Normal.  These were the beautiful, prosperous years.

     But, sometimes with all of the sunshine, rain does come.  Molly, shortly after the birth of her last child, began to go blind.  Within a few years Molly would learn to see by her senses.  She learned to walk around the house, to go outside to the barn and smokehouse, to gather eggs, and to shell peas and beans.  Her sense of hearing developed to a point that she knew a person as they entered the front gate, which was a hundred feet from the house.

     Molly liked her snuff.  That can be a messy habit for those who can see, but what about the blind woman who took her dips?  Never fear, she could spit into the fireplace and never miss.

     The golden years had arrived with cash in the bank, stored cotton, a good herd of cattle, and the children on their own.  They could reduce the cultivation and still have enough for the lifetime.  But, the hard hand of fate blew into their lives.

     In 1930, Gregg suffered from a stroke, which left him in a wheelchair.  In 1929 the Great Depression hit not only the Hills, but the country.  As the expenses mounted, the income was dropping.  They were soon broke.  The children would have to help them.

     The day was like any other.  Gregg in his wheelchair was on the porch.  The chair rolled across the porch and down the step into the yard.  The year was 1931.  Gregg had suffered from another stroke which left him as a complete invalid until his death on November 11, 1935.  He was buried in the family cemetary.

     Molly, who had been married to Gregg for over forty nine years would have to pick up her life and continue to live.  Even though she greived, she adjusted to a new life.  Besides she still had two daughters at home.  Also, Jim and his wife had moved in to help take care of the family.

     On February 3. 1942, seven years after Gregg's death, Molly died of intestinal influenza.  She was laid next to her beloved Gregg. 

     As we stand upon this hill today, April 18, 1992, we can feel the legacy built by Molly and Gregg.  From this firm foundation, we the descendants have chosen to walk in many directions.  Some chose to stay among the hills; others have chosen to move into various areas of East Texas;  others have chosen to make their way to the big cities.  Yet, there is one common thread that bonds us together--we are all sewed together with the love built upon this hill by Gregg Hill and Molly Dominy Hill.  The roots of all our tomorrows are implanted upon this hill.


     ELMER O. HILL, the grandson of Gregg and Molly Hill, spent his life as a retractment land surveyor in Texas and Louisiana.  From resurveys, studies of old records and deeds, as well as the accounts told to him by his grandparents, he has written this biography, UPON THE HILL, a story of the Hill family of East Texas.

     UPON THE HILL, is dedicated to his daughter Linda Lou Hill for her help and assistance in editing this biography.

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Unveiling and Dedication of the Hill Cemetery
Historical Plaque
April 18, 1992

Dedication Ceremony Program

Ms Eliza Bishop of the Houston County Historical Society


The full group of ceremony attendees
(Click for larger version)

The Historical Marker as it stands today

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