Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Hill mss., 1851-1914, consist mainly of letters and papers of James Nathaniel Hill, 1833-1902, farmer of Owen County, Indiana, and Civil War soldier. Included also are some letters and papers of John Robert Steele, Civil War soldier and brother of Mary Elizabeth Steele, whom James Nathaniel Hill married in 1865.

Career of James Nathaniel Hill: born in Owen County, Indiana, February 11, 1833; son of Jeremiah and Clarissa (Hughey) Hill; enlisted in Company E, 33rd Regiment, Indiana Infantry, commissioned second lieutenant, September 6, 1861; promoted to first lieutenant, December 21, 1862; wounded in Battle of Thompson's Station, Tennessee, March 5, 1863; resigned September 7, 1863, on account of wounds; married Mary Elizabeth Steele, daughter of Howe and Margaret (Killough) Steele, October 18, 1865; children, Lucy, Alice, Jeremiah and John; died August 10, 1902.

Biographical information on James Nathaniel Hill may be found in Charles Blanchard's Counties of Clay and Owen, Indiana (Chicago, 1884) pp. 927-928.

Papers of James Nathaniel Hill in the collection include Civil War letters written by him to his mother, Mrs. Clarissa (Hughey) Hill; Civil War letters from him to his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Steele; letters, 1853-1870, to Hill from relatives and friends, some of whom were Civil War soldiers; Hill's commissions as second and first lieutenant, September 6, 1861, and December 21, 1862, both of which are signed by Oliver Perry Morton; a muster roll of Co. E, 33rd regiment, August 1-October 31, 1862; reports on clothing, camp, and garrison equipage, 1862; a Map of the 7th division, army of the Ohio, General Morgan, Cumberland Ford, Tennessee, 1862, by Estus Wallingford; and an undated constitution of Carp Rambler, an organization formed in Carp, Indiana, to explore the natural scenery and places of interest in Owen County, Indiana.

Particularly interesting letters of James Nathaniel Hill are one of October 31, 1861, to Mary Elizabeth Steele, containing his observations on slavery; and one of May 28, 1863, to his mother relating to the care he received while hospitalized.

Of letters to Hill one of April 27, 1856, from Thomas C. Westall comments on political conditions in North Carolina; one of June 9, 1857, from Charity C. Wright describes Freeport Illinois; a letter of January 1, 1858, from A. M. Penland relates to anti-slavery violence in Kansas; one of February 3, 1861, from George W. Naanes concerns rioting at an Abolition meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and an undated letter from Mary B. Strong tells of attacks of Siouan and Chippewa Indians on white inhabitants of Minnesota.

Papers of John Robert Steele, a member of Company E, 33rd regiment, Indiana infantry, who was killed in the Battle at Thompson's Station, Tennessee, March 5, 1863, consist of Civil War letters to his sister, Mary Elizabeth Steele, and to his father, J. H. Steele, and his certificate of appointment as second corporal in Company E, October 10, 1861.

Some of the manuscripts in this collection are in a folio folder.

Collection size: 226 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.