Thursday, October 7, 2010

BIOGRAPHY - The Dutifiul Son

The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill
Life in the Shadow of the Empire Builder, James J. Hill

Biloine (Billie) Whiting Young
Eileen R. McCormack

The Ramsey County Historical Society

When James Norman, eldest son of James J. Hill, departed St. Paul for the brighter lights of New York City, it was second son Louis Warren who took his father’s place managing the portfolio of railroads that became today’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe. When James J. died without signing his will, it was Louis who executed his father’s vast estate, oversaw the welfare of his mother, and distributed their inheritance to his eight surviving siblings. When their mother, Mary Theresa Hill, died in 1921, their long-simmering family disputes broke out into the open and multiple lawsuits fractured the unity of the family.

Louis was a worthy successor to his empire-building father. He looked beyond railroads to the nation’s natural resources and identified the value of the iron ore deposits in northeastern Minnesota and the wealth inherent in the vast tracks of timber in Oregon. Louis’ efforts led to the establishment of Glacier National Park and the Great Northern Railway, under his leadership, became its developer. Louis oversaw the design of the historic hotels, and the location of many of the roads and trails. He was an artist who stole time from a hectic schedule to paint.

Louis rejuvenated St. Paul’s Winter Carnival and led his community in relieving the suffering brought on by the Great Depression. His example of leaving a major portion of his fortune to a foundation, today’s Northwest Area Foundation, inspired two of his sons’ philanthropic efforts—the Jerome and Grotto Foundations.

Author Biloine (Billie) W. Young and researcher Eileen R. McCormack, depended almost entirely on archival sources to produce this first full-length biography of Louis W. Hill. They reveal the complex personal and business influences on Louis as he succeeded his celebrated father in the management of a vast transportation empire and dealt with the dynamics surrounding his parents’ estates and his siblings’ disputes. In The Dutiful Son, Young and McCormack provide an insightful portrait of a conscientious, generous business leader who left a legacy of continued service to communities from the Mississippi to the Pacific along the route of the Great Northern Railway founded by his father.

The author, Biloine (Billie) Whiting Young, holds a B.A. degree in English and Journalism from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in Communications and Latin American History from the University of Illinois, Urbana. A resident of St. Paul, she is the author of numerous journal articles and more than a dozen books. Her books include A Dream for Gilberto: Mexican Odyssey; Minnesota Women in Politics with Nancy Ankeny; Grand Ave—The Renaissance of an Urban Street with Prof. David Lanegran; Cahokia: The Great Native American Metropolis with Prof. Melvin Fowler; Obsure Believers:The Mormon Schism of Alpheus Cutler; River of Conflict—River of Dreams: Three Hundred Years on the Upper Mississippi; My Heart, It Is Delicious: The Story of the Center for International Health; and A Noble Task: The Saint Paul Public Library Celebrates 125.
She is the recipient of the 2010 More Award given by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons for excellence in orthopedic reporting. Young agreed to write the Louis W. Hill biography when Eileen R. McCormack signed on to conduct the research in the vast archive of Hill family and Great Northern Railway papers. For fourteen years McCormack was the associate curator of the Hill Manuscript Collections in St. Paul. Her research in the papers, now housed at the Minnesota Historical Society, provided the documentary foundation for their account of Louis W. Hill’s life in the shadow of his celebrated father.

McCormack holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in American History, Museum Studies, Women’s Studies, and Historic Preservation from the University of Minnesota. She has published articles and presented public programs dealing with James J. Hill, Louis W. Hill, and Hill family history. McCormack lives in St. Paul where she operates a business that preserves history through archival services, research, and writing for a variety of national clients.

The Ramsey County Historical Society invites you to celebrate the publication of the book The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill, Life in the Shadow of the Empire Builder, James J. Hill on Saturday, November 13, 2010, at 2:00pm at Landmark Center.

Author Biloine (Billie) W. Young and researcher Eileen R. McCormack will present an illustrated talk exploring the extraordinary life and contributions of Louis W. Hill Sr. The new biography of Louis W. Hill will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

The event is free and open to public, but reservations are required call 651-222-0701 or email

No comments:

Post a Comment