... our families through the years
The McDowell Genealogy

The Hill Families of Johnston, Wake, Randolph, Davidson, and Guilford Counties

Before we begin to discuss the Hill families and their relation to the McDowell families, some introductory comments are needed. First, there is a great deal of Hill genealogy to be presented. Some of the direct line information will be presented on this web site and other details will be made available through a different format in the near future.

When we first began our study of the McDowell families of Randolph County, we had no idea that there was a relationship between the Hill families and the McDowell families. As we began our study of census records and other original resources at the NC State Archives, it became clear that one Riley Hill was somehow related to the McDowells. We knew that the name of the mother who was head of the 1850 household was Tilathy McDowell (the name has been spelled many ways and on the marriage record she is listed as Tilathy Hill). It was only in the 1970's that the NC State Archives had the marriages of North Carolina indexed through microfish and it was through the microfish that we found a John McDowell marrying a Tilathy Hill in 1819 in Wake County. And so began our search into Wake County to determine who John McDowell was; why he married in Wake County; how he got to Randolph County; and, why he was NOT on the 1850 census as head of household.

We speculated that Tilathy Hill was a sister to Riley Hill but we had no proof of this assumption and no proof that they came from Wake County other than being married there. Somewhere along the way in those early years, we stumbled upon an individual who had some hand written notes. When I called her, I distinctly remembering her saying "yes, Riley Hill and Tilathy Hill were probably brother and sister because a sister of Riley Hill married a McDowell." And, on top of that, she had information about Riley Hill's parents. After collecting my thoughts, I remember asking her how quickly could I come down and look at the information. It turns out that my Dad and I went down that night.

We visited with Mary Hattie Jackson Nance. She was born on March 6, 1897 and died in High Point in 1994. She had married Norman Glen Nance who was born on Nov. 11, 1898 in North Carolina and died in February 1969 in High Point. Mrs. Nance was in her 70s when we met her. She had a copy of the the eight page, handwritten document that was written and compiled in 1955 by Ruth Miller Case. She also compiled a short, two-page document on the Miller and Hill families in 1948 and referenced the reunions. Presumably, she wrote up this information for family members. There are not many dates in the documents, but there is a wealth of information on who married who and who their children were. Ruth Case's maiden name was Miller and hence the short write up on the Miller-Hill family connection.

The Ruth Miller Case compilation of the Hill Family History is availabe in pdf format at this link. Be aware that the file is 4.5 MB and it will take a few minutes to load to your computer. The initial information on the first pages reads as follows:

The Hill Family History as compiled by Ruth Case

The name Hill is undoubtedly of English origin, the first one of the name having lived upon, or near, a hill. There have been many eminent men of the name, as anyone who has consulted a biographical dictionary knows.

In his early youth, Sion Hill was captured by the British forces under Lord Cornwallis and made to take care of the General's horses. Upon reaching Randolph County, he evidently made his escape, and apparently liking Randolph, he decided to stay. Perhaps a certain young lady name Stairage (sic) Lee had something to do with his decision to settle in Randolph instead of return to his native county. At any rate, they were married. They had a daughter named Talitha who married a McDowell and two of their sons were named Simeon and Riley.

Most of those who attend this reunion are descended from Riley married Absilla Nance.

Now, the information makes a nice story, but there are some discrepancies that we need to clarify. More detail will be presented below, however, indeed Sion Hill is the father and he married Orpha Starage Lee in Johnston County, NC on October 21, 1800 and the bondsman was one Green Hill. This Green Hill could be a brother or a father; it is unclear although there is an older Green Hill living near Sion Hill in the 1800 census of Johnston County. The wife is sometimes referred to as Orpha and sometimes Starage. Riley Hill, son of Sion Hill, does name one of his daughters Orpha Starage Hill.

Next, at the time that Lord Cornwallis comes through Randolph and Guilford County, we are talking about 1781. Now, we will show that Sion Hill was born around 1773, so indeed he was a young boy if he was captured by Lord Cornwallis to take care of his horses. He would have been captured in Johnston County and then taken by Lord Cornwallis along the way up to Randolph County.

Next, being such a young boy, it is unclear how he got back to Johnston County, but I personally doubt that he fell in love with Randolph County and wanted to come back. In fact, the records show that after his marriage in 1800, he moved over into Wake County and remained there until the early 1820s at which time he and his brothers (and probably sisters) and other families moved into Randolph County and Davidson County right near the border of the two counties. In fact, Sion Hill and his wife remain in Davidson County until 1860 when they are in Randolph County living close to Calvin Hill and daughter Tilathy (Hill) McDowell in the Jackson Creek area.

There is no way to know who all the brothers and sisters of Sion Hill are as of December 29, 2007. We will present evidence of some in the data below. Also, we have not proved who the father of Sion Hill is. Many sites on the Internet say that Green Hill, the son of Sion Hill who died in Wake County in 1780 is his father. That particular Sion Hill in 1780 has a large family, is an excellent candidate as the grandfather of our Sion Hill and the father of Green Hill (particularly since a Green Hill is a bondsman for Sion Hill and Orpha Starage Lee's marriage). However, we cannot say this with any assurances of proof as there seems to be no data found to date to prove this lineage.

The following information on the Sion Hill family comes from the draft of a book in progress on the Hill Families of Northampton, Wake, Johnston, Randolph, Davidson, and Guilford Counties.


There are numerous books and articles written about the Hill families of North Carolina. Many of them offer conflicting information as to the early descendants beginning in the 1600s in Virginia up through their descendants in the 1800s. The purpose of this web site is to begin to relay information about specific Hill families who finally settled in the Randolph, Davidson, and Guilford Counties of North Carolina. The information is not complete as data is simply not available. Please feel free to contact the owners of this site for updates, corrections, and/or comments to jerry@sonstarmedia.com.

The number of Sion Hills found in genealogical records are many. However, one Sion Hill was born approximately 1773, probably in Johnston County, NC (1850 Davidson County Census). This is the Sion Hill noted above that was supposedly captured by Lord Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War. I have included information on Lord Cornwallis in North Carolina so that you may decide for yourself as to whether Sion Hill could have been captured by Cornwallis.

Sion Hill moved into Wake County and lived there for approximately twenty years. The Wake County Tax Lists show a Sion (Sihon) Hill beginning in 1802. He is shown as paying only a poll tax (meaning he had no land). Sion Hill appears also on the 1813, 1814, 1815,1816, and 1820 tax records of Wake County. (Source - Wake County tax lists) Note that since Sion Hill paid a poll tax in 1820, he was not yet or just turned 45 years old as the upper age for paying a poll tax changed in 1817 to 45 years old. This is in line with his birth around 1773-75. On the 1820 tax list, Sion Hill is listed in the White Oak District as "not paying in a tax." This could indicate that he had already moved to Davidson County.

In the miscellaneous tax records of Randolph County (CR 081.701.5), Sion Hill is listed with "lands to be sold 1821 for sold for taxes...(sic)". The land was 250 acres on Deep River and valued at $0.78. According to these records, a landowner's land is for sale at public auction if the landowner cannot pay his tax.

In the fall of 2007, we found out that the Tom's Creek Primitive Baptist Church records were on file in the UNC Southern Collection library. We had been told that there was a reference to Sion Hill and his wife Starage. Indeed, we know that Sion and Starage had moved into Davidson County according to census records. In the church records, it is noted on May 17, 1823, the church met and after taking up any business for the day, the clerk was appointed to write to Liberty Church in Wake County for the fellowship of Starage Hill, wife of Sion Hill. This definitely puts Sion and Starage Hill in Davidson County by May 1823 and their intent to be members of Tom's Creek Primitive Baptist Church. It took until 1826, but later in the records, there is also a reference to Starage Hill bringing in her letter of fellowship from Liberty Church in Wake County.

New information was found in May 2009. Liberty Church in Wake County is now Mount Vernon Baptist Church on Falls of Neuse Road. Actually, Wake Liberty Baptist Church was constituted on August 18, 1810 by Rev. John Purefoy, Elder Bartholomew Fuller and others. Rev. Purefoy was the pastor from 1810 until 1834. The original records of this church are in the Baptist Archive Collection at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC. The "original" book appears to be a copy of the original although it is difficult to tell. Unfortunately, the monthly history is not in the book until around 1834 where the book shows a list of nearly 100 members. Therefore, any detailed information about people in the 1810-1823 period is not available. The location of the original church is about 1/2 mile west of the intersection of Falls of Neuse Road and Durant Road. Currently, "Olde Mount Vernon Baptist Church" is located on the property along with the graveyard belonging to the original church. The land was given for the church by James Fort. The church kept the name Liberty Church until 1847 when it was changed to Mount Vernon Baptist Church and the records are filed under this name. Liberty Church, Wake Crossroads Baptist Church, Holly Springs Baptist Church, and Cool Springs Baptist Church formed the Raleigh Baptist Association in the early 1800s (Raleigh Baptist Association History, copyright 2009, web page).

While visiting Wake Forest University, this researcher also found the microfilm records for Wake Crossroads Baptist Church and their records go back to 1789. Interestingly, Starage Hill, Delany Hill and her daughter Candice Hill are found in these records. These, of course, are the same names found in the Tom's Creek Records. On August 21-22, 1812, Starage Hill was received into membership through "baptism by experience." On January 23, 1813, Sister Starage Hill was dismissed by letter (the records didn't say dismissed to ... perhaps Liberty Church, just a few miles away). Also, on October 26, 1822, Candice Hill and Delany Hill were dismissed...this author will presume that would be to Tom's Creek Primitive Baptist Church as they came to the church in 1823 with letters from Liberty Church in Raleigh. It is possible that since these churches were in the same Raleigh Baptist Association, that a letter from either church was acceptable for transfer for membership into a new fellowship; or, Delany and Candice Hill may have been dismissed to Liberty Church at the close of 1822 before coming to Davidson County.

Two important facts come from this new information. (1) The information about Starage Hill puts the Sion Hill and Starage Hill family exactly in the same physical location as the George McDowell family in Wake County - that is the Wake Crossroads area known as the Crossroads District. (2) The entries for Delany and Candice Hill being dismissed in October of 1822 put a time frame on when the entire Hill family probably left Wake County and headed west. That being the case, with Starage Hill showing up on May 17, 1823 at Tom's Creek Baptist Church, then we can assume that the family moved sometime between October 1822 and May 1823. Remember, we do know that Starage's daughter Tilathy had already married John McDowell and John McDowell witnessed a marriage in January of 1823 in Randolph County. This is enough factual information to put the family's move to the Randolph and Davidson County areas around the end of 1822.

Sion Hill's name has not been found on records again until 1828 in Davidson County. It appears that Sion Hill migrated from Johnston County, to Wake, and to Randolph County around 1822 and finally settled in Davidson County in the vicinity of Tom's Creek which is just a stone's throw from Jackson's Creek where the other Hills and McDowells settled in Randolph County. Sion Hill appears in Captain Harris' Tax District in 1828 with 40 acres of land. By 1831, Sion shows ownership of 175 acres in Captain Wright's District. There are records we have found where Green Hill of Wake and William Hill of Wake are having land surveyed for them in Davidson County in the 1830 timeframe. None have yet been found for Sion Hill. Sion Hill's name appears on the Davidson County tax lists consecutively until 1850 and several times up until 1858. The 1850 Davidson County census shows Sion Hill age 77 and wife Starage age 66 in dwelling number 735. A Doctor Washington Hill in the adjacent dwelling has a daughter named Starage Hill. This is a strong indication that Doctor Washington Hill is a son of Sion Hill. The census shows Sion Hill was a farmer.

We are not sure when Sion or Starage Hill died. We know that they are living in Randolph County in the 1860 census next to some of their children. The Randolph County 1860 census shows one Sion Hicks (sic) age 83 and wife Orpha age 75. Early records in Wake County confuse the name Hill, Hicks. and Hix. The double "L" was written as an "x" and the named looked like "Hix" and when pronounced and transcribed, it was sometimes incorrectly written as "Hicks". This is what we assume has happened in this case. His wife's name Orpha in 1860 poses no real problem, for one granddaughter was named Orpha Starage Hill. We therefore assume her full name was Orpha Starage Lee when she married Sion Hill on October 21, 1800 in Johnston County. Laverne Bunting Hayes states that Sion Hill's name (and Starage) are in the Tom's Creek Church Minutes in Davidson County and it is believed that they are buried at Tom's Creek which was a Primitive Baptist Church not far from Jackson Creek in Randolph County. Tom's Creek Primitive Baptist church is about 5 miles northeast of Denton, NC in Davidson County.

It appears that Sion Hill and Orpha Starage Lee had quite a few children (from Ruth Miller Case family records and the John Calvin Hill family Bible). Nearly half moved into Randolph County while others remained in Davidson County or moved away out of state. The following have been documented or presumed through family records to be their children. According to Ruth Miller Case, Riley Hill, Simeon Hill, and Tilathy Hill were brothers and sisters. She does not name other children in her document of 1955 but infers there are others. Tilathy Hill married John McDowell on October 6, 1819 in Wake County and he is the g-g-g-grandfather of the creator of this web site. A Green Hill married Nancy Sneed in Wake County on December 25, 1819 and the witness was one Sihon Hill. A young Green Hill appears on the 1830 Davidson County Census being born between 1800-1810. Recent contact with descendant John Eli Hill has given us the proof to be sure that this Green Hill is actually the first child and first son of Sion and Starage (this is a document in progress and all children are probably not listed or found). This information gives more strength to the possibility that Sion's father was the older Green Hill since he named his first son the same name as his possible father. And, when you check the children of this Green Hill of Sion and Starage you find that they name one of their children "Sion".

Mrs. Lona Wood has family records showing brothers of Riley Hill as Simeon, John, Doctor W(ashington), Jim (James), and Levi Hill. Mr. Ralph Taylor's family Bible records show Sion and Starage Hill as the father and mother of John D. Hill. Several other records imply the family relationships. For example, Levi Hill's marriage was witnessed by Riley Hill; Simeon Hill named a son Sion Hill; Calvin Hill's marriage was witnessed by Riley Hill in Randolph County. Calvin Hill moved to Brown County, Illinois. His death date is recorded in John Calvin Hill's Bible (son of Riley Hill), but the relationship is not stated. John Calvin Hill was a grandson of Sion and Starage Hill. Mrs. Lona Wood reports that one Ezekial L. Hill was thought to be a brother of Simeon Hill and thus a son of Sion and Starage Hill. Hinton Hill's marriage was witnessed by Riley Hill and Riley, Calvin, and another Sion Hill (Jr.) purchased some of the inventory of Hinton Hill's estate as he died married, and on 20 years old but with sixty acres of land on Jackson's Creek in Randolph County. John D. Hill's marriage was witnessed by the elder Sion Hill. John D. Hill lists his occupation in 1850 as a shoemaker and names his first son Hinton Hill. Riley Hill's marriage was witnessed by Simeon Hill. Riley Hill married Apsylla Nance and a Sion Hill (Jr.) married Elizabeth Nance, the sister of Apsylla Nance. In 1822, a Hill daughter married one Willis Lee, Starage's maiden name. Willis' wife in 1850 was named Jinsy. An older Hill named Myal or Mial Hill, a possible brother to the elder Sion Hill, married Delany Winters on May 7, 1806 in Wake County. Mial Hill died in Davidson County on December 27, 1823 leaving a wife and family (Davidson County Estate Records). A Delia Hill married Soloman Winters in 1816 in Wake County and died between 1860-70; she is probably a sister. Temperance Hill married Alsey Floyd in Wake County on December 4, 1807 and Alsey (Alsa) Floyd is in Randolph County at age 65 with his second wife by 1850; she is probably a sister of Sion Hill or one of the other Hill brothers. This lengthy discussion presents twelve possible children of Sion Hill and Starage Lee as follows: Green, Tilathy, Simeon, Levi, Riley, Sion, Calvin, Doctor Washington, Hinton, Ezekial L., John D., and Jinsy. Brothers and sisters of Sion are possibly Temperance Hill, Delia Hill, Myal Hill and Green Hill (there was a Green Hill in Randolph County who was 75 in 1860. (Delia was born around 1800 and could have married in 1816 being 15 years old, but then Green Hill and Tilathy Hill wouldn't have their dates of birth as noted unless there were twins.)

Children of Sion Hill and Orpha Starage Lee

    1. Green Hill - born August 4, 1801, Johnston County, NC and died February 5, 1882, Johnson County, IA
    2. Tilathy Hill - born about 1802 in Wake County, NC and died after 1880 in Randolph County
    3. Simeon Hill - born abt 1806 in Wake County and died after 1880 in Randolph County
    4. Levi Hill - born about 1809 in Wake County, NC and died September 28, 1881 in Davidson County
    5. Riley Hill - born June 20, 1810 in Wake County, NC and died April 2, 1881 in Randolph County
    6. Sion Hill - born 1813 in Wake County, NC and died in August 1877 in Randolph County
    7. Calvin Hill - born 1815, died March 9, 1896 in Brown County, Illinois
    8. Doctor Washington Hill - born October 15, 1816 and died February 10, 1896 in Davidson County
    9. Hinton Hill - born 1823 and died before November 27, 1843 (administration of his estate)
    10. Ezekial L. Hill - born September 15, 1820 and died December 27, 1893 in Randolph County
    11. John D. Hill - born May 5, 1825 and died in Brown County, Illinois after 1880.
    12. Jinsy Hill - born around 1811 and dies after 1860 in Randolph County.

It is important to get the Hill family being born in Wake County. One of the sons of Riley Hill was John Calvin Hill. I visited a Mr. John Grubb who had married into the Hill family - a descendant of Riley Hill. He had the family Bible of John Calvin Hill and a huge picture mounted on the wall. Here is the picture of John Calvin Hill. The Bible specifically states that Riley Hill was born in Wake County, NC. Also, the Bible listed all the children of Riley Hill and Apsylla Nance in order of rotation - meaning in order of their birth.

Riley Hill, son of Sion Hill and Orpha Starage Lee

Riley Hill, son of Sion Hill

John Calvin Hill, son of Riley Hill and Apsylla Nance

John Calvin Hill, son of Riley Hill

Children of Riley Hill and Apsylla Nance in order of birth

Sons and Daughters of Riley and Apsylla Hill

(names in rotation as they were born)

  • Caroline Wallstaine (Hill - married a) Harrellson
  • John Calvin Hill
  • Mary Ann (Hill - married a Miller)
  • Orpha Starage (Hill - married a Yeates [Yates])
  • Wm (William) Harrison Hill
  • Samuel Wade Hill
  • Jason C Hill
  • (Mary) Lucinda (Hill - married a Davis)
  • James Bulla Hill