Alden C. Hillman

ALDEN C. HILLMAN, A. M. One of the venerable educators of Kansas was Alden C. Hillman, of Salina, whose death occurred on the 24th of January, 1917. Mr. Hillman was the first man selected for a position in the faculty of the Kansas Wesleyan University. He began his work as an educator before the war, was very prominent in the State of Illinois in school work for many years, and for more than thirty years was a resident of Kansas.

He was born May 23, 1832, at Charleston, New York, a son of Ezra and Permelia (Horton) Hillman. Both parents were born in the same state, and were married there in 1828. His father was born in 1806 and died in 1859, spending his life as a farmer in New York and being very active in religious and temperance work. The mother was born in 1810 and died in 1860. She was also a devout woman and closely identified with the Methodist Episcopal Church. These worthy people were the parents of six children, three sons and three daughters: Jane, now deceased; Alden C.; Daniel Watson, deceased; Mary Elizabeth, wife of George P. Schouten, a retired farmer at Sedgwick, Kansas; Marvin J., deceased; Sarah Amanda, wife of H. Sherman, of Lockport, New York.

Alden C. Hillman grew up on his father's farm in New York. At the age of sixteen he entered the New York Conference Seminary of Charlotteville, and was a student there six years altogether. For four years he taught school in New York but in 1858 moved to Illinois. For a quarter of a century he was actively engaged in educational affairs in that state, as a teacher in state normals and agricultural colleges, and for three years was president of the Illinois Agricultural College of Irvington, and for nine years a member of the faculty of the Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. For eight years before his permanent removal to Kansas he was County superintendent of Washington County, Illinois.

In 1860 the degree Master of Arts was conferred upon him by McKendree College of Illinois. In that year he made a prospecting tour of Kansas, and bought some land near Salina which he owned until his death. After this trip he returned to Illinois and was actively engaged in teaching until 1883. He afterward made his permanent home in Salina. As already stated, he was elected a member of the first faculty of the Kansas Wesleyan University and for two years was dean of the Normal department. He resigned that office on account of failing health. In 1890 Mr. Hillman was elected county superintendent of Saline County on the populist ticket, and filled that office with credit and efficiency for two terms, four years. For a number of years Mr. Hillman was elected state chaplain of the Farmers Alliance. From 1895 he lived retired from active educational work, enjoying the comforts of a good home at Salina and had many interesting associations with the prominent people of that section of the state.

In 1860 he was ordained a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and elected a deacon without his consent. He preferred to remain in educational work, and was never a regular paster. Mr. Hillman was eighty-four years of age at the time of his death and was remarkably well preserved. Though he did a great deal of reading he did not use glasses.

On March 30, 1855, he married Miss Elizabeth A. Bell, second daughter of Rowland and Deborah (Harcourt) Bell. Mrs. Hillman was born March 17, 1832, at Florida, New York, her father being a native of that state also and her mother a native of Canada and a niece of Lord Harcourt of England. Mrs. Hillman was one of seven children named as follows: Henrietta A.,John Harcourt, Ephraim F., Elizabeth A., Henry J., William H. and James E.

Mr. and Mrs. Hillman had born into their household eight children: Marvin Watson, born July 6, 1856, and died June 20, 1857; Orcelia Bell, born July 28, 1858; James E., born December 13, 1860, and died August 4, 1862; Permelia, born September 8, 1862, died August 4, 1863; William, born February 19, 1865, died April 1, 1872; Alden, born October 16, 1866, died June 29, 1867; Elizabeth, born June 21, 1868, died January 10, 1869; and Helen, born June 18, 1871. The daughter Helen was graduated from the Kansas Wesleyan University with the class of 1893 and has the degrees Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed by April McAfee, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 1-28-99.

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