The name of Mr. T.E. Hills comes up in various accounts of early Garden Home. He lived in the older two-story blue house (Dickson home) on Oleson Road at Shirley Lane, 7730 SW Oleson Road, back in the early 1900s. His obituary says he lived in Garden Home from 1908 to 1941. At age 23 he married Emily Beebe in Illinois, who later taught at Garden Home School and then after Emily’s death, at age 80 he married her sister Alice who had lived with them. In 1909, T.E., Emily and Alice were listed as owners of 8 acres in Garden Home. T.E. died on Jan. 4, 1941 at age 96. (Mapes research and Mapes, Virginia: Garden Home – The Way It Was, 1980)
The book Conversations with Pioneer Men by Fred Lockley and compiled by Mike Helm identifies the T.E. Hills name to be Theophilus E. Hills. That book, published in 1996, contained extensive early interviews by Lockley. Theophilus is quoted in the book: “I was 17 when I enlisted in Company 1, 34th Illinois, as a drummer. We were with the 2nd Division of the 14th Corps and I went with Sherman to the sea. I enlisted in August, 1861, for three years, and reenlisted at the end of that period. Shiloh was our first battle. Most of the members of our company were young chaps—from 17 to about 21 years of age.”
T.E. Hills recounts his time in the Union army and the Battle of Stone River where he was eventually captured and later able to flee into a plum thicket and get back to his Union company. As a prisoner, he was ordered to take care of the wounded. After another battle as a Union soldier, he surveyed the battleground and found “his bunkie” badly injured. He carried this man to the ambulance and he lived to fight again.
Dorothy Upchurch (parents owned the White store, 1930s and 40s, current DQ property) writes in her memoirs:
“On the other side of our property was the T.E. Hills Victorian farmhouse. An orchard of filberts separated our places. We were fascinated by “Old Man Hills” as my father called him. He was a Civil War veteran, had a flagpole with brass cannon on the top and ran the flag up and down every day. I can still see him in the Memorial Day parade in his navy blue Union uniform with brass buttons, a campaign hat with a gold cord on his head. He also drove a spit and polished 1909 Ford. Quite a curiosity in the 20s when he drove it to Portland, it drew quite a crowd with its polished brass headlights and struts to the windshield from the fenders. It was in such a beautiful condition that Henry Ford offered to buy it and to put it in his Dearborn Museum and trade a new Mercury for it. Mr. Hill agreed, received the new car, drove it for a time and then demanded his old Ford back, and got it.”