Okey Johnson Hill

TYLER COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA
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Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
vfcrook@trellis.net
April 13, 2000
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The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 404-405

OKEY JOHNSON HILL, now in his second term as Cir-
cuit Court clerk of Tyler County, is a man of versatile
gifts and attainments. He has taught school, has been a
successful lawyer and merchant, and is also a practical
farmer and stock raiser. In referring in this brief intro-
ductory way to his place in the affairs of Tyler County
it is appropriate to notice also that Mrs. Hill is deputy
Circuit Court clerk, a unique honor, since she is the only
woman in the state to fill such a position.

Okey Johnson Hill was born on McKim Creek in the Meade
District of Tyler County, June 27, 1872. His grandfather,
Thomas Hill, was a native of Pennsylvania, and as a
young man moved to Marion County, West Virginia, and
shortly after his marriage settled on McKim Creek, where
he spent the rest of his life as a farmer. He married
Miss Margaret Cooper, who also died at the old homestead
on McKim Creek. The farm they owned there was the
birthplace of Israel Nicholson Hill, who was born Novem-
ber 26, 1840, and in his mature years owned and farmed
the homestead and lived there all the days of his useful
and honorable life. He died December 1, 1916. He voted
as a republican and was always attentive to his duties as
a member of the United Brethren Church. During the
Civil war he served as a member of the Home Guards.
Israel N. Hill married Elizabeth McCullough, who was
born in Greene County, Pennsylvania, November 3, 1841,
and now at the age of four score is still living on the home
farm. She came when thirteen years of age with her
parents to Pleasants County, West Virginia. The children
born to her marriage were ten in number: George W., a
merchant and later a farmer, who died in Wood County,
West Virginia, September 29, 1910, aged forty-eight; Lan-
dora, living on her farm on Sancho Creek in Tyler County,
widow of Lloyd Davis; Horace Greeley, head carpenter in
a large furniture establishment at Detroit, Michigan; John
Taylor, a farmer three miles from Parkersburg in Wood
County; Okey Johnson; Ida Lorene, wife of Charles Shutt,
a farmer in Crawford County, Ohio; James Daniel, an
employe of the Hope Natural Gas Company at Clarksburg
in Harrison County; Oliver, an employe of the Oklahoma
Natural Gas Company, living at Warwick, that state; Miss
Ettie and Miss Florida, both on the home farm with their
mother.

Okey Johnson Hill stayed with the farm long enough
to learn its practical duties, and all his life has had more
or less active connection with agricultural matters. He
attended the rural schools, took normal training in Tyler
and Ritchie counties, and at the age of seventeen was ap-
pointed to his first responsibility as a teacher in the Brush
Run School of Meade District. He remained in Meade
District eight terms, and for one term taught in Center
District. In 1898 Mr. Hill became a merchant on McKim
Creek, and sold goods there until June, 1903. For nearly
two terms he had served as justice of the peace, and while
in that office he diligently studied law. Because of this
early preparation he was able to complete his law course
and graduate LL. B. from the West Virginia University
Law School in 1904, having entered the school September
22, 1903. Mr. Hill was admitted to the bar December 8,
1904, and for a year or so practiced in Middlebourne. In
1906 he moved to Friendly, Tyler County, and was a mer-
chant there six or seven years. On March 14, 1913, he
returned to Middlebourne to resume his law practice, but
in November of that year was by popular election called
to his present duties as Circuit Court clerk. He began his
first term of six years in January, 1915, and in November,
1920, was re-elected for a second six-year term. Besides
being clerk he is also commissioner in chancery of the
Tyler County Circuit Court.

Mr. Hill is a director of the Bank of Middlebourne and
secretary of the Tyler County Farm Bureau, his eligibility
to this office resting upon his ownership of 400 acres of
farming land in Tyler and Ritchie counties. He does gen-
eral farming and raises some blooded Polled Angus cattle.
Hia home is a modern residence in Middlebourne. Mr.
Hill is a republican, is a member of the Baptist Church,
and is now serving his fourth consecutive term as president
of the Tyler County Sunday School Association. He is a
trustee of his church. Fraternally he is affiliated with
Hebron Lodge No. 1ll, F. and A. M., in Pleasants County,
with Sistersville Chapter No. 27, R. A. M., Mountain State
Commandery No. 14, K. T., and he and Mrs. Hill are
members of Friendly Chapter of the Eastern Star. He ia
a past grand of Friendly Lodge No. 350, Independent
Order of Odd Fellows, past chancellor of Middlebourne
Lodge No. 86, Knights of Pythias, and also belongs to the
Improved Order of Red Men, Junior Order United
Mechanics, Order of Owls, and is a member of the West
Virginia Bar Association. During the war he assumed a
personal share in the responsibilities for keeping Tyler
County well represented in all the war causes. He gave
much time to filling out questionnaires for recruits, and for
this work received an honorary discharge from the Govern-
ment, and also delivered a number of speeches in behalf
of Liberty Loans throughout the county.

On January 15, 1898, in Ritchie County, Mr. Hill mar-
ried Miss Zanie Alice Corbin, who was born at Highland
in that county, was reared there and acquired a common
school education. She is a member of the Baptist Church,
and in addition to looking after her home and children
is performing her duties as Deputy Circuit Court Clerk.

Her father, Joseph Corbin, was born near Highland in
Ritchie County, November 4, 1843, and was a leading
farmer in that section until he retired in 1914, while living
at Belmont in Pleasants County. He was a democrat, a
member of the Baptist Church and the Masonic fraternity.
Mr. Corbin married Julina Hogue, who wag born at Beech
Grove on Bond’s Creek in Ritchie County in 1845, and
died at her home near Highland in 1887. The children of
Mr. and Mrs. Corbin were: Olive, wife of William Boggess,
a farmer on Bond Creek; Alonzo Taylor, an oil contractor
at Muskogee, Oklahoma; Mrs. Hill; Floyd Haymond, fore-
man in the oil field of the Ranger District in Texas; Sarah
Rebecca, wife of Morris Morgan, an oil well contractor
of Muskogee, Oklahoma; Lillian, wife of Samuel Campbell,
a traveling salesman living at St. Mary’s in Pleasants
County; Howard, an oil well contractor at Muskogee.

Mr. and Mrs. Hill have an interesting family of six
children. The oldest, McKinley Tennyson, born February
18, 1899, is specializing in agriculture at West Virginia
University, and on September 18, 1918, was enrolled in
the Students Army Training Corps at Buckhannon, serving
until the armistice. He is a graduate of the Tyler County
High School at Middlebourne. The second son, Franklin
Herman, born March 26, 1901, is also a graduate of the
County High School, and is now specializing in mechanical
engineering at Virginia University. Edith Marion, born
February 18, 1903, is a graduate of the County High
School in the literary and normal courses, and is a teacher
in the Emerson School at Monongah in Marion County.
The three youngest children of Mr. and Mrs. Hill are
Zelma Rebecca, born September 18, 1904, in the sophomore
class of the County High School; Thelma, born September
8, 1911; and Ada Esther, born December 12, 1913.