James Jerome Hill (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: Hill used his tenacity and entrepreneurial skills to amass a personal fortune and create a railroad empire in the American Northwest. In the process, he substantially contributed to both the region’s and the nation’s prosperity and growth.
James Hill, born September 16, 1838, in the Quaker village of Rockwood, Ontario, Canada, added the middle name Jerome later in life; appropriately, the “Empire Builder” took the name of Napoleon’s brother. The Hill family farmed for a living, though Hill’s father pursued other occupations as well, and was frequently unemployed. Through his father, young James encountered many different personalities and learned the often harsh realities of the business world. After the death of his father in 1852, James’s mother kept an inn, and the future transportation magnate worked as a grocer’s assistant. The Reverend William Wetherald, a local schoolmaster, played an important role in preparing Hill for what lay ahead. Wetherald taught him algebra, geometry, literature, and grammar. The instructor also instilled a sense of purpose in his pupil and increased his awareness of the world beyond rural Ontario.
Both of Hill’s parents were of Anglo-Celtic descent, and neither came from a distinguished or wealthy family. They had immigrated to Canada in the early 1820’s. Ann Dunbar Hill, James’s mother, adhered to the tenets of the Methodist...
(The entire section is 2088 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!