ROBERT P. HILL.
Among the distinctively prominent and brilliant lawyers of the state of Illinois none is more versatile, talented or well equipped for the work of his profession than Robert P. Hill, who maintains his home and business headquarters at Marion, in Williamson county. Throughout his career as an able attorney and - well fortified counselor he has, by reason of unimpeachable conduct and close observance of the unwritten code of professional ethics, gained the admiration and respect of his fellow members of the bar, in addition to which he commands a high place in the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens. At the present time, in 1911, Mr. Hill is a member of the law firm of Hill & Skaggs, of Marion, and he is representing the Fiftieth district of Illinois in the general assembly.
The original representative of the Hill family in Illinois was John W. Hill, grandfather of the subject of this review, John W. Hill accompanied his father to Illinois from North Carolina in an early day and he passed his life in Hamilton and Franklin counties where he was long engaged in agricultural pursuits. Robert P. Hill was born in Franklin county, Illinois, the date of his nativity being the 18th of April, 1874. He is a son of James B. Hill, a fruit commission man at Anna, Illinois. James B. Hill was born in Hamilton county, this state, in 1844. He was a gallant and true soldier in the One Hundred and Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry during the war of the Rebellion, having belonged to the Army of the Cumberland. He participated in strenuous conflicts at Murfreesboro, Lookout Mountain and Mississippi Ridge and received his honorable discharge from service in 1865. For a number of years he was most successfully engaged in farming operations in Franklin county, Illinois, but in 1899 he located at Anna, where he has since been engaged in the commission business. In 1869 was solemnized his marriage to Miss Rebecca Spilman, a daughter of a noted Christian minister, who died at Mulkeytown, this state, at the advanced age of eighty years. Mrs. Hill passed to the life eternal in 1884, and concerning her children, Robert P. is the immediate subject of this review; James J. is circuit court clerk of Franklin county, Illinois; Rebecca A. is the wife of Joseph Webb, a prominent merchant and farmer near Ewing, Illinois; and W. J. Hill, of St. Louis, Missouri. Two daughters, Sarah and Alice, are both deceased.
Robert P. Hill was reared to the invigorating influences of the old homestead farm in Franklin county and his preliminary educational training was completed by a course in the Ewing, Illinois, College, in which he was graduated as a member of the class of 1896, duly receiving his degree of Bachelor of Science. While attending college he taught two sessions of county school in the vicinity of his home and after leaving college he came to Williamson county, where he was elected principal of the Crab Orchard Academy, serving in that capacity for two years. Being ambitious for legal training, he located at Marion, where he began to read law under the able preceptorship of Messrs. D. T. Hartwell and E. M. Spiller. He was engaged in the real estate and life and fire insurance business while in the embryonic stage as a lawyer. In June, 1906, Mr. Hill went to Chicago, where he passed the state bar examination and where he was admitted to the bar of Illinois. He initiated the active practice of his profession at Marion, where for a time he was alone but where he is now associated in a business way with Walter W. Skaggs.
The first public service of an official nature rendered by Mr. Hill was that of police magistrate of Marion, to which office he was elected prior to his admission to the bar. Subsequently he was elected city attorney of Marion, succeeding Hosea Ferrell in the office and serving therein for a period of two years. It was during his incumbency as city attorney that the city paving was inaugurated. In 1910 he was nominated as one of the Democratic candidates of the Fiftieth district for representation
in the general assembly of the state. The district comprises the counties of Franklin, Williamson, Union, Alexander and Pulaski, and while the district is normally Republican by a wide majority he was elected to the office. His interest in legislation has not taken a wide range but it is shown to be practical by the activity he has manifested in legislating for good roads, to reform the bill of lading practice of railroads and other common carriers, to remove the technicality of “exceptions” in cases on appeal to higher courts of the state and to eliminate the fee evil of the state's attorney's office by placing the incumbent of that position on a salary instead of tempting him with the fee graft, as of old. In the Forty-seventh general assembly Mr. Hill was made a member of the committees on judiciary, judicial department and practice, good roads, military affairs, railroads and the committee to visit penal and reformatory institutions. He was also selected by his party as a member of the Democratic steering committee.
Mr. Hill's plan for good-roads legislation was agitated in the house and the same resulted in the naming of a committee to meet with a committee of the senate for the purpose of selecting another committee to investigate conditions and make recommendations to the next general assembly in that connection. Existing laws upon the subject will be revised and the element of economy will enter into the consideration of the question by the committee. As chairman of the sub-committee of the house on railroads Mr. Hill was enabled to report favorably on the “uniform bill-of-lading bill” and he secured its passage through the house. As the end of the session was near the bill was hurried over to the senate, where its friends secured prompt action, and the measure is now a law.
Mr. Hill introduced a bill to change the court practice of requiring 'exceptions' to be made and noted during the trial of a cause before an appeal to the higher courts could be taken and have standing with the body. The bill provides that where any point in a bill is controverted and passed on by the trial judge the party ruled adversely against may take up the case on appeal on a writ of error without reference to form of “exceptions” heretofore required to be made. The bill is now a part of the statutes of 1911.
It has been common knowledge for years that the office of state's attorney should be placed upon a salary basis in order to get the best moral and financial results for the state. The temptation for graft is ever present with the incumbent of the office and it has too frequently been taken advantage of. A bill to abolish the fee evil came over to the house from the senate end of the capital and Mr. Hill, as a friend of the framer of the measure, fathered it and secured its passage, with the result that it is now a law.
Mr. Hill in his legal practice is recognized as a particularly able lawyer and among his clients are numbered some of the largest corporations and most influential business concerns in this section of the state. As already intimated, he is a stalwart Democrat in his political affiliations and he is a zealous and active factor in all matters bearing on the party welfare. He is connected with a number of fraternal organizations of representative character and his religious faith is in harmony with the tenets of the Baptist church, in whose faith he was reared. He is a man of broad human sympathy and fine mental caliber and is held in high esteem by all with whom he has come in contact.
On the 25th of December, 1901, Robert P. Hill was united in marriage to Miss Lora Corder, of Marion. Mrs. Hill is a daughter of the late Willis Corder, who was born and reared in Williamson county, Illinois, and whose father was a pioneer here. Mrs. Hill is a grand niece of the historic character and frontier lawyer of this county, Anderson P.
Corder, who was a compeer of Lincoln and other ante-bellum lawyers of Illinois. Willis Corder married Julia Springs, and Mrs. Hill was their only child. Robert P., Jr., born on the 30th of June, 1905, is the issue of Mr. and Mrs. Hill.