Jefferson Hill is an interesting Civil War veteran. He was a member of the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC) with a life that was anything but average. Jefferson was born in November 1838 in Maineville, Warren County, Ohio to John and Anna Hill. He came from a large family being one of seven children. Jefferson grew up farming and gave that as his occupation when he enlisted with the 4th OVC.
By the summer of 1858, a few months shy of 20 years old, Jefferson married Abigail Eliza Carr on August 30th in Clermont County, Ohio. It’s interesting to note that Abigail was six years and in some records even eight years older than Jefferson. They had been married five years and had two children when Hill enlisted with the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.
He served with Co. I, had an enlistment date of December 17, 1863 and was to serve for a three year period. It was recorded that Jefferson had brown hair, hazel eyes and a clear complexion. Like all enlisted men he started out as a private but rose to the rank of corporal less than a year later on November 1, 1864.
Like his fellow cavalrymen, Hill experienced some ferocious fighting and participated in several other minor skirmishes. He saw the hard fought Atlanta Campaign to lesser known Sandtown and also Wilson’s Raid. While the 4th was engaged in a monumental battle against Nathan Bedford Forest and Confederate forces at Selma, Alabama Jefferson Hill was wounded. April 2, 1865, the day he was injured changed his life forever. Shot in the upper right back, the minne ball tore through into his right shoulder. This grueling injury plagued him for life. He would spend the rest of his enlistment in the hospital and was eventually discharged August 15, 1865 in Cincinnati.
Jefferson found it very difficult to work after the war. He suffered a great deal of pain and experienced a lack of arm movement and even arm use from this war injury and filed for a pension.
The physician who examined Hill in June 1886 as he applied for his pension noted, “. . . as result of the wound . . . is atrophy of right arm” also “right arm cannot be extended in the low horizontal way in any direction. Grasping powers of right hand is very weak.”
When Jefferson was examined again in June 1891 for his pension the doctor wrote . . . “right arm wound had atrophy . . . shoulder is very much stiffened and painful in motion . . . arm can be elevated only to right eye. The other motions are limited or dim.”
Hill was granted a pension for his Civil War injury and presumably lived off of that pension for the rest of his life. A notation on a public family tree on Ancestry.com said Hill was not able to work again after the war.
Even though Jefferson was not able to join the workforce once back home he didn’t lack in social activity. He seemed to have a lively love life.
Another public family tree on Ancestry.com has this note – “Hill was running around on (his first) wife and joined the army to escape the consequences. He never returned. There was no divorce, so his subsequent marriages were not legal in the strict sense.”
Those marriages mentioned in that Ancestry.com note:
In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census Jefferson is married to Elmira and has two children.
In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census Hill is married to Mary and has four children.
It would be very interesting to see who Jefferson was married to in the 1890 U.S. Federal Census if it were available.
There are no divorce records for any of the marriages of Jefferson Hill. Presumably Jefferson fathered at least eight children with three different women. The Sharonville Historical Society notes a fourth wife listed in Hill’s pension file.
Jefferson Hill’s original headstone
Jefferson Hill’s incorrect headstone
The extent of Hill’s love life was fully revealed after his death. At least a couple of his wives filed for a widow’s pension after his demise. The pension office had a heck of a time sorting out this marital mess. But without any divorce records Hill’s first wife Eliza was recognized as his widow and granted a widow’s pension. The rest of his marriages were null and the children from those marriages were considered illegitimate.
Jefferson Hill died January 13, 1899. He is buried in Coleman Presbyterian Cemetery, Sharonville Ohio.
Ironically Jefferson Hill’s controversial lifestyle didn’t end with his death. A typical white marble Union military headstone was placed on his grave but it had become worn and deteriorated over the years. A Boy Scout project aimed at getting him a new headstone somehow went wrong. Instead of getting a new Union headstone Hill ended up with a pointed obviously Confederate headstone. The Sharonville Ohio Historical society is working on remedying this error.
Certainly Frank Sinatra could have been singing about Jefferson Hill when he crooned. “I did it my way.”