Friday, November 14, 2014

Victimology: William Hill

William L. Hill
After the murders, nearly all of the attention was given to the Cowing family and, what would become, a very public and bitter fight between the Clackamas County prosecuting attorney's office and the Clackamas County Sheriff.  The focus was entirely on Ruth Hill and her family. This seems natural since Ruth had grown up in Oregon City and her father and brother (all her brothers, really) were respected businessmen in the area. William Hill's entire family lived in Washington state as did his ex-wife and her new husband and before you ask, no, she was never a suspect. At the time of his death, William was a pipefitter for the Portland Gas Company in the community of Sellwood, just a few miles west of Ardenwald. Generally, not much was known about William. He was new in the area having just recently moved his new family into the little cabin by the woods. Neighbors would note he was a hard worker but not much else could be said. Let me add a bit more information about Mr. Hill...
Phillip, Ruth and Dorothy
William L. Hill was the oldest child of Oscar and Mary Ann Hill. He was born March 25, 1880 in the Apple Capital of Minnesota, La Crescent (roughly 300 miles away from Alexandria, MN). His father was a laborer in La Crescent and life in the small town seemed very uninteresting. At the age of 19 William married 18 year-old Lula Kirby and the young couple moved in with Lula's parents, John and Martha Kirby. Lula was an only child. I don't know much about William and Lula's life in Minnesota but I do know that William and Lula, the Kirby's and William's entire immediate family moved to Tulalip, Washington sometime after 1900. Also in that same time frame, William and Lula divorced. They never did have children and I don't know if this had anything to do with the divorce or not. Lula would remarry and spend the rest of her life with Silas Wolcott, originally from Minnesota; this new marriage also remained childless. When William met Ruth they were both living in Marysville, Washington, north of Seattle. Ruth was working as a milliner designing and selling ladies hats and William was, more than likely, a pipefitter, piping planner or something similar. Like most of the victims in these crimes, William Hill had no enemies. Nor did he have any vices that might bring him into contact with potentially dangerous individuals. William was a hard worker who's background and life was largely pushed aside in the public battles that would ensue after his murder. But more on that in another post.

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