Jasper Newton Hillhouse was a grandson of the pioneers, Mr. and Mrs. Eli Hillhouse, who moved to frontier Arkansas in 1812 from South Carolina. He was born February 22,1832 exactly 100 years after George Washington on what is now known as the Earl D. Perkins farm west and near Smithville, where a family cemetery is located which contains the original Hillhouses and three generations of descendents.
In I874 he married Anne Eliza Wasson, whose parents migrated here from Tennessee. They had four children: Benjamin Milton, Lockey Geneva, Sydney Ralph and Floy Louise. Ben M. married Bernice Baker, Lockey died when quite young, Syd didn't marry and Floy married Kennard Baker.
In early life Mr. Hillhouse served four years as county clerk -1852-1858 in Lawrence County, which covered a wide area of Arkansas at that time. He was county judge from 1874 to 1876. His genius lay as one of the best teachers in the county and he taught subscription schools in Smithville's Old Solomon log school house before, during the Civil War, and the difficult times after the war. His wife was a teacher and a musician and they had an outstanding library for his day and time. Both were Presbyterians by faith and Democrats in politics.
W.E. McLeod's history of Lawrence County (published in 1936) reports: "Any list of outstanding citizens of Lawrence County should contain the name of Jasper Hillhouse whose ancestors came here at an early date. He was born in 1832 and became in later years the most noted of pioneer teachers in the county. He was a man with unusual endowments and one of those teachers who made lasting impressions on the minds and characters of their pupils. He taught many years at Smithville and had much to do, no doubt, in giving directions to lives of the youth of the community. He built at this place probably the first frame building in the county. When he was an active teacher in Smithville, it was the leading community in the county. He taught at other schools in the county, Old Bethel, Powhatan and Walnut Ridge and for several years in the eighties, he was associated with Prof. M.S. Kennard in his famous school LaCross CollegiateInstitute at La Crosse, in Izard County."
Joseph G. Taylor, whose writings have contributed much to Smithville's history, was one of a group who followed Mr. Hillhouse to LaCrosse to attend school.
W.E. McLeod was correct in stating that Mr. Hillhouse made lasting impressions on the minds of his students. I have heard two of his students, James P. Baker, my father-in-law, and J. Newt Barnett, a next door neighbor for thirteen years, quote words of wisdom they remembered his quoting sixty-five years later. Mr. Hillhouse retired after teaching several years at La Crosse and the family returned to Smithville. They rented a house in town until one could be constructed on the farm one mile southwest of town. He had purchased it in 1856 from Nathan McCarroll, the first family to settle in this area (1808). The farm of over 500 acres of rich loamy soil was on either side of Cooper Creek.
Floy Baker's book, "When Life Was Young On The Farm ", (1939) reports: "I'll never forget the day we moved from Smithville to the farm and began our abode in our new home. I was seven years old. It was a lazy, sunny, October afternoon in the year of 1891. I rode atop of one of the loaded wagons on a huge feather bed and held one of my most precious possessions, Brindle, my cat! We brought with us two milk cows, Mary and Fanny, a team of mules, Beck and Jeff, a black shepherd dog, Carlo, and a few chickens.
We were happy to arrive at our new home which is on a hill, has plenty of large rooms with high ceilings, a spacious back porch and an old fashioned portico on the front, and was always painted white. The name of this old homestead was "Hillside". We had quite an impressive ceremony at the dedication. or christening of it. Several of our relatives were present and a bottle of water was imposedly broken on the front doorsteps, thus christening it Hillside and it continues to be know by that name. Under their father's supervision, Ben and Syd, with hired help were successful in farming and raising and dealing in livestock. Mr. Hillhouse died in 1902.
Ben M. and wife, Bernice Baker Hillhouse, became the parents of six children, Jane, who married Lo Holt, Helen, married Clyde Robins, Willie died when a young girl, Glenn married Charlene Kuntz, Ray married Nelsene Brewer and Geneva married Claude Mullen. They live in Charleston, Mo., Batesville and Smithville and Geneva is the Lawrence County descendent.
By - Dula McLeod Baker -1984
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