Vernon David Hill was born in Dundee, Kane County, Illinois in March of 1887, the son of Maggie Grant (a Scottish immigrant) and David Hill, an English immigrant and nurseryman. Maggie died when Vernon was very young, and his father then married a much younger woman named Hortense.
Vernon lived in or near Dundee for much of his life, working in the family nursery at least through 1920. He married some time in the 1920s, but the union was short-lived and he had divorced by 1930. In that year he was working in Chicago as a clerk in a brokerage house, but in 1932 he moved to Roseburg, Oregon where he lived for five years and first began dealing in agates and other minerals.
Vernon then moved to Salem, Oregon in 1937, where he opened a rock shop, running his first classified ads in Rocks & Minerals in March 1938. The ads continued through March-April 1960, but in that year the shop closed and the mail-order business was thereafter conducted from Hill's residence at 5450-C Portland Road. He dealt in "general minerals, crystallized minerals, fluorescent minerals, polished mineral specimens," rough and cut gemstones, meteorites, fossils, agates, petrified wood, books and lapidary materials.
Vernon D. Hill died in Salem, Oregon on April 10, 1952, and was buried in City View Cemetery in Salem. Shortly thereafter the company's ads got smaller, but the company stayed in business, under the management of his niece, Mrs. Marilyn Wolcott, and nephew, Robert W. Patterson, both of whom had worked for him before his death. The company advertised as Hills Gems & Minerals (4902 Portland Rd) beginning in May-June 1960. By January-February 1961 the company had moved to 4837-38th Place and made the statement "Guaranteed satisfaction for over 25 years" (i.e. since before 1936 through November-December 1961). In November 1966, the company left no room for doubt about their origin when they stated "formerly V.D. Hill" in their ad.
ANONYMOUS (1952) Vernon Hill, agate shop operator dies. The Statesman, Salem, April 11, 1952, p.7.
ANONYMOUS (1952) Salem Obituaries: [Vernon David] Hill. The Statesman, Salem, April 12, 1952, p.5.
ANONYMOUS (1952) Salem Obituaries: [Vernon David] Hill. The Statesman, Salem, April 11, 1952, p.12.
Oregon Death Index, 1903-1998.
Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900.
U.S. Federal Census, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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||V.D. Hill's ad in the December 1942 Rocks & Minerals.|
||V.D. Hill's ad in the October 1943 Rocks & Minerals.|