William L. Hill (October 17, 1855 - August 2, 1922) was born in Auburn, Iowa of Henry
Clay and Margaret (Cater) Hill. On November 18, 1873, he enlisted in the United
States Navy and began a career that was to span a lifetime. On 1884 he received the
Medal of Honor, the highest decoration in the United States, for saving William
Mulcahy from drowning when the young man fell overboard from Hill’s ship the U.S.S.
Minnesota in Newport, Rhode Island on June 22
that same year. Hill served in the rank of boatswain on the U.S.S. Brooklyn during the Spanish-American War and received a
special commendation from Rear Admiral Winfield S. Schley for his bravery and
In 1904 Chief Boatswain Hill took command of the U.S.S. Southery and U.S.S. Topeka prison ships
at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and instituted policies of prison reform that were
later adopted by other branches of the service and in civilian prisons (such as
removing ankle chains from prisoners). In 1901, Hill testified before the Schley
Court of Inquiry established to evaluate the conduct of Rear Admiral Winfield S.
Schley “during the recent war with Spain, and in connection with events thereof.”
The Inquiry lasted a little more than eight weeks and newspaper accounts (not all
complimentary) earmark Hill’s testimony as one of the highlights of the proceedings,
“bringing the courtroom to its feet” in patriotic fervor. William Hill was a member
of St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 1 in Portsmouth from 1905. Hill married Blanche
Hedden from Troy, New York in 1881. After her death, he married her best friend,
Katherine Sweetser, on February 3, 1917 and it is through this connection that the
collection has been made available. He took his own life on August 2, 1922 at the
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Chief Boatswain Hill was an avid collector of news clippings, especially those
related to naval matters. Moreover, he was a precise and articulate (and often
emotional) observer of people and events. Accordingly, the collection contains an
unusual record of turn-of-the-century American Naval history, including first-hand
reports of “The Battle of Santiago,” the decisive battle of the Spanish-American
War, the Schley Court of Inquiry (1901), and a series of photographs of the
Portsmouth Navy Yard around the turn of the century. The collection also contains a
scrapbook by Katherine Sweetser Hill which details her activities, especially those
as a member of the New Hampshire Federation of Women’s Clubs.
This collection is open.
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions
about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.
[Identification of item], William L. Hill Papers, 1873-1930, MC 115, Milne
Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham,
Mr. and Mrs. William Warren, October 1986 (Acession #: 8657)
|Box 1, Folder 1||Continuous service certificate (in leather pouch)|
|Box 1, Folder 2||Service records and assignments, 1875-1883|
|Box 1, Folder 3||Service records and assignments, 1886-1891|
|Box 1, Folder 4||Service records and assignments, 1892-1893|
|Box 1, Folder 5||Service records and assignments, 1894-1895|
|Box 1, Folder 6||Service records and assignments, 1896-1899|
|Box 1, Folder 7||Service records and assignments, 1900-1903|
|Box 1, Folder 8||Service records and assignments, 1904|
|Box 1, Folder 9||Service records and assignments, 1905-1906|
|Box 1, Folder 10||Service records and assignments, 1907-1908|
|Box 1, Folder 11||Service records and assignments, 1909-1914|
|Box 1, Folder 12||Service records and assignments, 1915-1917|
|Box 1, Folder 13||Service records and assignments, 1918|
|Box 1, Folder 14||Service records and assignments, 1919-1921|
|Box 2, Folder 1||1881-1894: Army and Navy Register, (US Military Gazette); Clinton H. Meneely
Bell Co.; Dept. of the Interior; L.R. Hamersly and Co. (2 letters); Navy
Yard, Portsmouth, NH; Navy Yard, New York; W.H. Reeder (2 letters); W.
Smith; US Navy Dept. (8 letters, including 1 regarding award of Medal of
|Box 2, Folder 2||1895-1898: W. Bull; F.H. Cleveland; Chauncey M. Depew;
James R. Durham; Mrs. Hardy; T.W. Hartford; Blanche Hill (Mrs. William)
(2 letters); F. Stanhope Hill; Theresa W. Hollis; Jordan Marsh and Co.;
John Levis; Manhattan Railway Co.; National Association of Letter
Carriers, New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Co.; John M.
Portal; The United Press; US Army and Navy Journal; US Dept. Navy; US
Dept. of War (2 letters); US House of Representatives; US Post Office;
T.R. Wilson; S.J. Wright; Alice and Charlie; Maggie, Charley and
|Box 2, Folder 3||January
1899-June 1899: The Denver
Times; Historical Dept. of Iowa (4 letters) Frank Jones;
Thomas Lipton; William Ludlow; J.E.M. Sanford; US
Army and Navy Journal; US Navy (2 letters)|
|Box 2, Folder 4||July 1899-
December 1899: W.A Marble; N.E. Mason (2 letters); The
Salem Iron Co.; W.S. Schley; George E. Van Nostrand; US Navy; Charley
|Box 2, Folder 5||1900: Army and Navy Journal; Baltimore
American; Francis T. Bowles; First Presbyterian Church of
Annapolis, Ind.; Frank Fitzmiller (2 letters); E.H. Hall; Kearsarge
Association of Naval Veterans; E.W. Kennison; C.J. Leach; Chas. M. Moses
(2 letters); New York Times (2 letters);
A. Nowell; The Philadelphia Inquirer;
Universalist Church of Portsmouth, NH; Andrew B. Rogers, US Dept. Navy
(2 letters); US House of Representatives (4 letters)|
|Box 2, Folder 6||1901: The Army and Navy Register; Baltimore American; Francis T. Bowles;
Pascual Cevera (in Spanish with translation); Commonwealth of Mass.
House of Representatives; Clarence De Knight; Merta M. Fitch; First
National Bank of Portsmouth, NH; Edward Hagman Hall; Harry Hayden; N.E.
Mason, US Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, RI (2 letters); Frances W.
Ross; Elihu Snow; George S Wasson; US Dept. of Navy (2
|Box 2, Folder 7||1902: Army and Navy Register (2 letters); Francis
T. Bowles (2 letters); S.R.(?) Luce; A.P. Niblock; J.E. Pillsbury (2
letters); US Dept. Navy; Winston Churchill; Julia (sister)|
|Box 2, Folder 8||1903: F.T.
Bowles; Geo. R. Bufferton (?). F.A. Cook; William S. Coombs; Lloyd
Erickson (?); Richard Kipp; B. L. Lopez (?); N.E. Mason; J.E. Pillsbury;
George Rafferty (?); Winfield S. Schley; George S. Wasson|
|Box 2, Folder 9||1904: J.S.
Chadwick; W.L. Hill (2 letters relating to Hill’s heroic deed); Arthur
F. Howard; Medal of Honor Legion; T.S. Peck; Treasury Dept. of Navy (4
letters); US Navy Dept.|
|Box 2, Folder 10||Feb.
1905-Sept. 1905: Pascual Cervera; John L. Garrity (?);
Mrs. Mabel Humphreys; Arlo S. Knepper; J.C. Laughlin; Rear Admiral W.W.
Mead (2 letters concerning rules for Peace Commission with Japan and
Russia; 1 congratulations on a job well done); New York Railway Co.;
T.S. Peck; J.E. Pillsbury; Treasury Dept. of Navy; A. V. Wadhams (3
|Box 2, Folder 11||Oct.
1905-Nov. 1905: Geo. A. Bufferton (?); Lena Cole; H.S.
Howard; Wm. Kennedy; Horatio C King; Julius Langbein; Fred T. Lape (?);
Robert H. Messer; T.S. Peck; Edgar Pressman (?); Alex Scott; H.A.
Strohmeyer;; Charles Todd; A.V. Wadhams; Charles and Vi;
|Box 2, Folder 12||Oct.
1906-Nov. 1908: Florence H. Bodge; B.Diehl (?); Herbert
Kimball; Arthur Mac Arthur; J.D. McClintock (2 letters); A.G.
Muiterhalter; J.P. Parker; Moses Greeley Parker; J.E. Pillsbury (4
letters); J. Louise Porter; W. S. Schley; A.V. Wadhams; H.B. Wilson;
unidentified (2 letters)|
|Box 2, Folder 13||1909-1911: W.B. Caperton; Albert H. Lides; F.A. Wilson;
Arthur A. Carey (8 letters); G.R. Gove; Joseph Hill (brother); Arthur B.
Hoff; R. Osborne McClintock; E.A. Moore; Louis W. Osborne; L.P. Rennolds
(4 letters); Letter to Mrs. W. Schley; Josie Sullivan; Burman
|Box 2, Folder 14||1912: Arthur
a Carey (4 letters); Anson W. Belding (8 letters); B. Diehl (?);
Frederick W. Donnelly (2 letters); Arthur B. Hoff; N.E. Mason; Thomas G.
Nellist; L.P Reynolds; W. R. Rush (?); A. Rust; Ernest D.
|Box 2, Folder 15||1913: Arthur
Carey (7 letters); E.A. Moore; National Concrete Co.; H.R. Shaw: Ernest
|Box 2, Folder 16||1914-1921: W.E. Benson (2 letters); Charles M. Charlton
(2 letters); F.A. Cook; G.L. Hanscom; Robert H. Messer; E.A. Moore;
Thomas Mott Osborne; C.W. Parks; M.J. Shaw (2 letters); Charles, L.
Stilman (?); Alberta Todd; Ernest D. Trueman (3 letters); U.S. Dept. of
State; U.S. Department of War; Union Trust Company; A. Watham (?); M.J.
Wilkinson; Thos. J (?); Billie|
|Box 2, Folder 17||Undated: Joshua W. Estes; L. Gaylor; L.L. Thompson;
|Box 3, Folder 1||Sons of the American Revolution 1, 1892-1895|
|Box 3, Folder 2||Sons of the American Revolution 2, 1896|
|Box 3, Folder 3||Sons of the American Revolution 3, 1897|
|Box 3, Folder 4||Sons of the American Revolution 4, 1898-1899|
|Box 3, Folder 5||Medal of Honor Legion: Eighteen General Orders, one Special
Order, Two circulars, 1894-1919|
|Box 3, Folder 6||Medal of Honor Legion: Two Rosters, April 23, 1890-April 30, 1895 and
April 23, 1890-March 1, 1898; Program of a Reception by
the Citizens of Brooklyn held at the Academy of Music, N.Y., Sept. 11; One-page
Congressional Report on the issuing of ribbons to Medal of Honor
recipients in the Navy, January 13, 1897; Two newsclippings, one from The
Scranton Truth reporting on the Medal of Honor Legion annual convention
held in the Scranton Board of Trade meeting hall the previous evening,
the other an undated, uncredited story about the banquet held the
previous evening at the Monmouth Hotel at which General Porter was the
guest of honor (Roosevelt was already President, so it must have been
after 1901. The issue of Roosevelt’s receiving the Medal of Honor was
raised), June 9, 1897;
Undated; Three letters from Headquarters, one a general
printed letter from Charles Collis, the others personal, one from James
Durham to Hill stating that he has recommended that Hill represent the
Navy on the Legion’s Executive Committee, the other from Nelson Miles,
Commander, recommending that the annual convention be held in Scranton
in June (as was later reported in the news clipping above), Dec. 1, 1894, July
25, 1896, April 5, 1897.|
|Box 3, Folder 7||Medal of Honor and Legion of Honor Banquet Programs, 1904, 1906, and
|Box 3, Folder 8||Programs for the Seventeenth and Twentieth Annual Conventions,
|Box 3, Folder 9||Newsclippings of W.L. Hill lectures, “The Battle of Santiago,”
|Box 3, Folder 10||Ledger containing handwritten extracts from letters written by
Hill, and a journal of the cruise of the U.S.S.
Brooklyn , Aug. 6, 1890-Aug. 29, 1891; Jan. 1
1899-July 24, 1899|
|Box 3, Folder 11||Ledger containing information on “Heavy Weight Purchases”, misc.
poetry and a detailed accounting of crew member results of annual skills
testing (splicing, knots, exercise aloft, etc), circa
|Box 3, Folder 12||Cut Book – Standing, Running and Misc. rigging from U.S. Ship
Portsmouth, Aug. 1888|
|Box 3, Folder 13||“Scrapbook” 1, 1895-1897|
|Box 3, Folder 14||“Scrapbook” 2, 1895-1897|
|Box 3, Folder 15||Receipts (W.L. Hill) including 3 purchase orders for the Peace
Conference of 1905, 1902,
|Box 4, Folder 1||General Orders and Navy Records, 1891-1894|
|Box 4, Folder 2||General Orders and Navy Records, 1895|
|Box 4, Folder 3||General Orders and Navy Records, 1896|
|Box 4, Folder 4||General Orders and Navy Records, 1897|
|Box 4, Folder 5||General Orders and Navy Records, 1898|
|Box 4, Folder 6||General Orders and Navy Records, 1899|
|Box 4, Folder 7||General Orders and Navy Records, 1900-1904|
|Box 4, Folder 8||North Atlantic Station “Squadron Bulletin,” 1898|
|Box 4, Folder 9||Navy prisoner records (health record and service record) for 3
|Box 4, Folder 10||Photocopies of f.9 (Navy prisoner records; health record and
service record for 3 men), 1917|
|Box 4, Folder 11||Enlistment papers and fingerprint papers for 2 Navy prisoners,
|Box 4, Folder 12||Misc. papers pertaining to the USS
Brooklyn: Crew lists for Oct. 1897 and July 4, 1898
including other correspondence, 1897-1898|
|Box 4, Folder 13|| Misc. papers including the Constitution and By-Laws of Warrant
Officers Association 1893, International Flag Code, Knights of Templar
|Box 4, Folder 14||Misc. papers|
|Box 4, Folder 15||Misc. papers|
|Box 4, Folder 16||Souvenir booklet by Eugenio de Texeira, USS Southery and Topeka
Christmas Menu, 1898,
|Box 4, Folder 17||Photocopies of original signatures of the officers for the USS Galena, USS
Brooklyn, USS Jamestown and
USS Prairie. [In Box 8 are pieces of
pink silk that have original signatures], 1884, 1887, 1889, 1902|
|Box 4, Folder 18|| 3 indexes from William Hill’s scrapbooks. The Scrapbooks were
dismantled for preservations purposes, |
|Box 5, Folder 1||Misc. newspaper reprints|
|Box 5, Folder 2||Newspaper Clippings, 1895-1897|
|Box 5, Folder 3||Newspaper Clippings, 1895-1897|
|Box 5, Folder 4||USS Brooklyn, 1897|
|Box 5, Folder 5||USS Brooklyn, 1898|
|Box 5, Folder 6||USS Brooklyn, 1898|
|Box 5, Folder 7||USS Brooklyn, 1898|
|Box 5, Folder 8||USS Maine, 1898|
|Box 5, Folder 9||USS Maine, 1899|
|Box 5, Folder 10||“Admiral Sampson and Gunner Morgan,” 1901|
|Box 5, Folder 11||“Schley Trial,” 1901|
|Box 5, Folder 12||“Schley Trial and Death,” 1901|
|Box 5, Folder 13||“Schley Trial and Death,” 1901|
|Box 5, Folder 14||“Schley Trial and Death,” 1900-1910|
|Box 5, Folder 15||“Schley Trial and Death,” 1905-1910|
|Box 5, Folder 16||“Schley Trial and Death,” 1913-1917|
|Box 5, Folder 17||Retirement of William L. Hill, 1919|
|Box 5, Folder 18||Obituary of William L. Hill, 1922|
|Box 5, Folder 19||Re: Settlement of Estate of William L. Hill, 1922-1923|
|Box 5, Folder 20||Re: Settlement of Estate of William L. Hill, 1922-1923|
|Box 5, Folder 21||Re: Settlement of Estate of William L. Hill, 1923-1945|
|Box 5, Folder 22||Account book of investments for William L. Hill, |
|Box 6, Folder 1||Hill Genealogy, Undated|
|Box 6, Folder 2||Blanche Hill’s Journal pertaining to “Young Ladies Social and
Literary Society,” 1877|
|Box 6, Folder 3||Wedding Book, W.L. Hill, Katherine Sweetser, 1917|
|Box 6, Folder 4||Mrs. Hill’s Expense Book, 1918-1921|
|Box 6, Folder 5||Personal Correspondence to Mrs. Hill, 1922-1937|
|Box 6, Folder 6||Business Correspondence to Mrs. Hill, 1922-1923|
|Box 6, Folder 7||Misc. receipts to Mrs. Hill, 1926-1930|
|Box 6, Folder 8||Mrs. Hill’s Diary, Sept. 1932-Nov. 1932|
|Box 6, Folder 9||Foreign Investments papers for Mrs. Hill, 1944|
|Box 6, Folder 10||Misc. Tax papers for Mrs. Hill|
|Box 6, Folder 11||Mrs. Hill’s scrapbook, pertaining to her involvement in the
Graffort Club of Portsmouth, NH, 1934-1936|
|Box 6, Folder 12||Typed Summaries of Speeches presented at Fifth Annual Forum on
Current Problems, sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune; copy of “The
New Hampshire Clubwoman,” 1936, May 1935|
|Box 7, Folder 1||Photographs of Hill
- e.1: W.L. Hill, Marseilles France, June 1, 1879
- e.2: W.L. Hill, 1881
- e.3: W.L. Hill [Vallejo, Cal], 1882
- e.4: W.L. Hill, 1882 (?)
- e.5: W.L. Hill, c. 1890s?
- e.6: W.L. Hill, c. 1890s?
- e.7: W.L. Hill in an unidentified group of 5 womem and 3 men with
Hill in background (probably the Hedden family), c. 1890s?
|Box 7, Folder 3||Photographs of Hill cont.
- e.1: W.L. Hill standing on deck of an unidentified ship in full
uniform, c. 1900s?
- e.2: W.L. Hill in uniform standing in front of an unidentified
building (2 same pose), c. 1900s?
- e.3: W.L. Hill double exposed image: Hill and Andrew E. Kakbash,
Naval Cadet, U.S.N., c. 1900s?
- e.4: W.L. Hill USN Commander of the Southery and the Topeka
(3 same pose different sizes), 1911
|Box 7, Folder 3||Photographs of Hill, cont.
- e.1: W.L. Hill USN Commander of Southery (3 same pose different sizes), Jan.
- e.2: W.L. Hill USN Commander of Southery (3 same pose different sizes), Jan.
- e.3: W.L. Hill USN Commander of Southery (5 same pose different sizes), Jan.
- e.4: W.L. Hill (2 poses), ca. 1919
- e.5: W.L. Hill in white uniform in his office at U.S.S. Southery, where he was
commandant, ca. 1900
|Box 7, Folder 4||Photographs of Other Hill Family Members
- e.1: Portrait of Blanche (Hedden) Hill, William Hill’s 1st wife,
- e.2: Portrait of Blanche (Hedden) Hill, undated
- e.3: Blanche Hill and Mrs. Soden swimming, undated
- e.4: Blanche Hill and Mrs. Soden sitting at water’s edge,
- e.5: Blanche Hill and Katherine Sweetser (they were best friends)
sitting on rocks. This was before she was married to Hill,
- e.6: Blanche Hill and Katerine Sweeter standing at the waters edge
in New Castle looking towards Seavey Island, undated
- e.7: William L. Hill and Katherine Sweetser Hill (center) at
launching of U.S.S. S-3 (2 copies), 1919
|Box 7, Folder 5||Photographs, etc.
- e.1: W.L. Hill and unidentified man, undated
- e.2: Autographed picture of Rear Admiral W.S. Schley,
- e.3: Sergeant Peter J. Downey, boyhood companion and shipmate.
Note on back of photos states Peter Downey and William Hill entered
the Navy together in 1893, 1897
- e.4: Autographed picture of Joseph Daniels, Secretary of the Navy,
|Box 7, Folder 6||Photographs
- e.1: William L. Hill’s cat “Timmy,” undated
- e.2: “Timmy” at Quarters G at Navy Yard, undated
- e.3: Black and white photo of an unidentified house,
- e.4: “The Pines,” Grover Cleveland’s house in Tamworth, NH,
- e.5: Unidentified young woman - future Mrs. Hill?
|Box 7, Folder 7||Shipyard Photographs|
- e.1: Portsmouth Navy Yard from Portsmouth side, July, 1920
- e.2: U.S.S. Southery and U.S.S. Topeka, undated
- e.3: U.S.S V-1 (submarine), November 13, 1926
- e.4: 2 unidentified photos of submarines, undated
- e.5: H.M.S. Capetown, August 14, 1929 -August 20, 1929
- e.6: Old Ironsides, Portsmouth, NH, July 4, 1931-July 19, 1931
- e.7: Unidentified photograph of the Portsmouth Navy Shipyard, undated
|Box 7, Folder 8||Shipyard: Construction, Prisoners|
- e.1: U.S S. Southery and U.S.S. Topeka at dock in Portsmouth, undated
- e.2: Spanish-American prisoners of war on parade, W.L. Hill at right
- e.3: Southery working parties, Rock
Drilling and Stone Handling Squads, >March 8, 1915
- e.4: Section of Yard work force leaving Southery, March 8, 1915
- e.5: Southery clothing factory squad,
- e.6: Southery, prisoners at study
- e.7: Driving the first rivet into the keel: William L. Hill holding pipe,
R.P. Schlabach of the construction crew and Admiral C.J. Bouche (2
- e.8: Unidentified crew as another keel is begun at Portsmouth Navy Yard,
|Box 7, Folder 9||Photographs - Spanish American War, etc.|
- e.1: Photograph of a painting of the U.S.S.
Brooklyn (painted by George S. Wasson, commissioned by W.L.
Hill, following the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on July 3, 1898),
- e.2: “The Wreck of the Aquinda” a Spanish ship in Cuba, undated
- e.3: Shore party in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, undated
- e.4: Shore party in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, undated
- e.5: Battleship in harbor, Spanish-American War, undated
- e.6: Unidentified men looking at a ship from a pier, undated
- e.7: Unidentified ship leaving port, undated
|Box 7, Folder 10||Portsmouth Photographs|
- e.1: Connie Bean Community Center on Daniel Street in Portsmouth,
originally the Off-Base Enlisted Men’s Reading Room. Hill raised the
money for the building (2 copies), undated
- e.2: Different view of the Connie Bean Community Center (2 copies),
- e.3: Billiard and Men’s Reading room, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, NH, Sept.
- e.4: Billiard and Men’s Reading room, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, NH, March 8,
- e.5: Billiard and Men’s Reading room, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, NH,
- e.6: Reading Room Building No.22, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, NH, undated
- e.7: Gymnasium, Building #22, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, NH, (3 copies),
Sept. 17, 1913
|Box 7, Folder 11|| Various views of London (probably acquired in 1895 at the U.S.S. Brooklyn‘s participation in Queen
- e.1: Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben (mistakenly
called “Big Tom” on the back of photo), undated
- e.2: The Strand and the Royal Courts of Justice with the monument, in the
middle of the street, marking Temple Bar (mistakenly called “Temble Bar”
on back of photo), undated
- e.3: Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column, undated
- e.4: St. Paul’s, top of Ludgate Hill on Cheapside, undated
- e.5: London Bridge and the monument marking where the Great Fire of 1666
- e.6: Thames Embankment and Cleopatra’s Needle (mistakenly called
Thotmosis Obelisk on back of photo), undated
|Box 7, Folder 12||Civil War Soldier|
- e.1: Tintype of unidentified Civil War sailor (in 3×3 black decorated box
with a clasp), undated
|Box 8, Folder 1||Physical Items|
- Three pieces of pink silk bearing the signatures of the officers of the
USS Galena, USS Brooklyn, USS Jamestown
and USS Prairie, (1884), (1887), (1889),
- “The Fight Off Santiago; A Personal Account of the Destruction of the
Spanish Fleet” by Rear Admiral William Scott Schley, Saturday Evening Post, August 13, 1904
- Framed order signed by President Herbert Hoover in 1930 posthumously
conferring the rank of Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy on William Hill,
- Portrait of William Hill kept at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
- Framed plaque kept at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum,