Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hill Family Photographs by R. H. Gardiner

William and Blanche Hill were not shy about having photos taken of them, their family and their surroundings. The following set of three photos was taken by Roswell Harry Gardiner who was born in Maine in the mid-1850s and became an itinerant photographer on the west coast. Early in his career, Roswell was the Manager of the Great Eastern Photographic & Advertising Company in Portland, Oregon and about 1885 he moved to Southern California. He and his family, second wife Lenora Newby of Jonesboro, Indiana and son George Daniel born in Oregon are listed in the 1900 U.S. Census as living on Comstock Street in Whittier, California. While Roswell took many photos of various subjects at numerous Orange and Los Angeles locations, very few have actually been posted on the Internet with his credits. Based on the people in the first photograph, I believe that Roswell took these pictures in late 1896 or early 1897.

Photo 1 is of the Hill Ranch house was located on what is now Hill Road about 500 feet east of Brookhurst Street in Garden Grove. After studying this photograph, comparing it to family group sheets for William Hill's two families and guessing about when this photo was taken, I believe that from left to right is Annie Hill (age 8), William Hill (48), Blanche Hill (26), Edith Ella Hill (2), John Harry Hill (5), Elizabeth Mary Hill (11), Laura Rebecca Hill (1), Blanche Hill (3), William Robert Hill (15), and another family of an unknown man, boy, girl and woman whose ages don't look like they match any other Hill or Spielman families. Missing from this picture is Jane Hill (12) and Samuel Hill who died in 1890. The girl identified as Elizabeth could possibly be Jane who was a year older.

William Hill's 1911 bio said, "He put out eucalyptus and forest trees, also pines and evergreens." From this picture and the next, he definitely loved trees.

Photo 2 is of the Hill Ranch barn and outbuildings. Blanche Hill is in this photograph along with William Robert right of her and possibly Elizabeth left of her. The other woman, a child and William Hill on a wagon are in front of the white building and the other man is behind the black horses to William's left. William Hill had plenty of horses and mules for his business and directly in front of Blanche are her turkeys and further left are her ducks. One can only guess what it took to direct this photo and get everyone and everything in right place.

Photo 3 is of the Hill threshing machine with William Hill in his buckboard and his crew in position. The location of this picture with hills in the background could possibly be on forty acres of property that he owned in La Habra, north of Anaheim.

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