Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Euphemia A. Hill - Rancher of Calaveras County, California

Euphemia Ann Hill and her husband, Hugh Lawson White "Lawson" Hill established, in 1855, a prosperous ranch in Camanche, Calaveras County, California, not far from Stockton.  The town closest to the ranch was originally called Limerick before the Hill family moved there.  By 1849, it was renamed Camanche.

She and Lawson arrived in California with their young son, Jesse, from Arkansas where Jesse had been born.  Euphemia and Lawson were natives of Warren County, Tennessee.  Also moving west with them was Euphemia's brother, Pleasant H. Hill.

Euphemia was a daughter of Cornelia Smart and Jesse Pleasant Hill.  Lawson was a son of Elenor Hyman Morgan and Ervin Hill.  Euphemia and Lawson were first cousins once removed.

The children of Euphemia and Lawson were:  Jesse Jerome Hill, born in 1850 in Lawrence County, Arkansas; John H. Hill, born in 1855 in Calaveras County, California; and Francis Irving Hill, known as "Irving", born in 1857 in Calaveras County, California.

Lawson Hill was murdered in 1861.  He is interred in Pioneer Cemetery, San Andreas, Calaveras County.

After the death of Lawson, age 35 years old, Euphemia took over the care and running of their enormous estate, Hill Ranch.  She was about 30 years old with small children under age 12.

Hill Ranch was not far from the Shenandoah Valley, home to the oldest Zinfandel vineyards in the country.  It existed from 1855 until 1931, was over 1,000 acres in size, and the Mokelumne River ran through the expansive Hill Ranch.

Euphemia, who ran the ranch, became known as "Auntie Hill".  Buhach, an insect powder made from a plant, was manufactured on Hill Ranch.  She entered into a contracted partnership with G. N. Milco to cultivate the Chrysanthemum Turreanum plant to be sold as "Milco's Universal Insect Exterminator".  After the termination of the partnership, Euphemia ran the business for many years.  Her surviving child, Irving Hill, remained with her on the ranch into old age.

Her older sons died in young adulthood:  Jesse died in 1874 at age 25; John died the following year in 1875 at age 19.  Euphemia died in 1910 at age 81, and son Irving died in 1932, circa age 75.  Jesse and John were originally buried in Dorsey-Holman-Ostermann Cemetery, Camanche, Calaveras County, California,  but were removed and re-interred in Lodi Memorial Cemetery, Lodi, San Joaquin County, California, in February 1962.  Euphemia and Irving were originally buried in Hill Cemetery, Comanche, but were later re-interred in Lodi Cemetery.

Today, the Hill Ranch property lies at the bottom of Lake Camanche.  The ranch's history is noted in a California state historical marker located in Camanche South Shore Park, at Camanche Reservoir.

The Barkley family of television's The Big Valley (1965 - 1969) was reportedly based on the Hill family of Hill Ranch.  The fictional Barkley Ranch, vast in size, was supposed to be much larger than the real life Hill Ranch.