County Historical Society is proud to announce the publication of the
new book The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill, Life in the Shadow of the
Empire Builder, James J. Hill. Local author Biloine (Billie) W. Young and researcher Eileen
McCormack bring to light the extraordinary life and
contributions of Louis Hill Sr., the second son of James J.
Hill. Following the death of his father, Louis Hill took on the
management of the Great Northern Railway and banking empire, became
the major force behind the establishment and development of Glacier
National Park, restored the St. Paul Winter Carnival as a city-wide
celebration and equitably settled his parents’ vast estate despite,
at times, bitter opposition from members of his family.
About the Book:
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.
About the Authors:
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.
Comments from Readers:
“… at the heart of this biography is the story of one man, his decisions about his life and the context for those decisions; his luck and his talent, his relationships with his parents and siblings, his wife and his children, his career and his community. Yes, he’s silent on some key issues: how did he feel about living in an identity so thoroughly defined by people outside of himself? Did he find comfort or gloom in his father’s shadow? But it is a fascinating life.
“Who knew that Louis
Hill—so eclipsed in his times and ours by his amazing
father, James J. Hill—lived such a remarkable life? Young
and McCormack, clearly. Now, they’ve made it possible for us
to know, too. Thank you to them and to the Ramsey County
Historical Society for this book.”
Dutiful Son is the first fully developed biography of
Louis W. Hill—a complicated if talented man who lived always
in the shadow of his better-known father, James J. Hill, but
one who cut his own wide swath in railroading and in a host
of other business and social endeavors. And it was Louis
Hill who had to plot and navigate a vexing path through an
often public and very hostile family thicket following his
father's death. It is a compelling read for those interested
in early twentieth century business history and in the life
and times of an evolving St. Paul, Minnesota.
"The Ramsey County Historical Society inspires current and future generations to learn from
and value their history by engaging in a diverse program of presenting, publishing and preserving."
The place for St. Paul & Ramsey
County, Minnesota history.
Ramsey County Historical Society programs include a research center, St. Paul & Ramsey County MN history magazine,
historical exhibits, historic site attraction the Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life.
RAMSEY COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
323 Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102
Phone: (651) 222-0701, Fax: (651) 223-8539
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