A Guide to the Leonidas Carrington Hill Family Papers, 1853-1970
Leonidas Carrington Hill, Sr. (1862–1935) was a lawyer, politician, farmer, and water and land developer born in Gilleland Creek in Travis County, Texas, on July 31, 1862. He attended Add-Ran Male and Female College before marrying Eustacia Dabney in 1882. After managing a general store in Manor, Texas, he studied law at the University of Texas and completed his degree at the University at Virginia. He moved to Beeville, Texas, in 1891. He practiced law and quickly rose to become a leading Democratic leader.
Hill developed an interest in the lower Rio Grande Valley area while traveling. He started a rice plantation in the Brownsville area while still practicing law in Beeville. After acquiring 300,000 acres of land in the Hidalgo-Cameron County area, he founded the city of Harlingen on land that had been school lands and part of the King Ranch. Hill raised money for the construction of a railroad while operating a hardware and impellent store in Brownsville.
Hill chartered both the Lon C. Hill Town and Improvement Company and the Capisallo Town and Improvement Company, which laid out the town of Lonsboro (later sold and renamed Mercedes). In 1904, Hill also helped incorporate McAllen. He chartered the Harlingen Land and Water Company in 1907, which operated 36 miles of canals and had 75,000 acres. Hill participated in passing the original state law governing irrigation districts and worked with the Texas rangers as a border scout to fight Mexican bandits, some of who burned the Hill Sugar Mill in 1917.
Red Beach used Hill as the model for the main character of the 1915 novel "Heart of the Sunset". Hill befriended William Jennings Bryan and bought some land in South Texas from him. The Lon C. Hill Park was dedicated in 1950 in Harlingen, Texas, and designated a state historical landmark twelve years later. By the early 1990s, Hill’s home, the first residence in Harlingen, had become a museum.
McKenna, Verna J. Handbook of Texas Online."Hill, Leonidas Carrington, Sr.," Accessed May 25, 2010. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhi25.
Correspondence, reports, affidavits, minute books, maps, ledgers, stock certificates, narratives, pamphlets, notebooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, deeds, receipts, a yearbook, contracts, bills, checks, and invitations comprise the Leonidas Carrington Hill Family Papers, 1853-1970, documenting the business and personal transactions of Lon C. Hill, Sr. from the time he left his hometown of Manor, his law practice in Beeville, and moved to Brownsville in 1901. The collection also includes various business and personal transactions of his daughter, Ms. Paul Hill, and one of his sons, Lon C. Hill, Jr.
Leonidas C. Hill, Sr., engaged in various activities relating to industry, commerce, agriculture, and land and water development in the Rio Grande Valley, and founded the city of Harlingen, Texas, in the early 1900’s. Leonidas C. Hill Sr., and Leonidas C. Hill, Jr. were additionally involved in real estate and legal activities, especially related to Harlingen Land and Water Co., Lon C. Hill Town and Improvement Co., San Jacinto Life Insurance Co., and Santa Cruz Mining Co. The collection also includes records of the activities of Troop G, 2nd Cavalry, Texas National Guard.
This collection is open for research use.
Leonidas Carrington Hill Family Papers, 1853-1970, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Processed by Robert W. Tissing, January 1975. Revised by Frances Rogers, December 1977.
Detailed Description of the Papers