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Della May (Firestone) Hilling


Chalk Hill Lutheran Cemetery

Della May (Firestone) Hilling was born on April 25 or 26, 1885 in Connellsville, Fayette County, PA, the daughter of George E. and Barbara (Minerd) Firestone Sr.

During her teenage years, Della lived with her parents at the Continental No. 2 mine.

Four days before Christmas 1904, Della at the age of 19 married 29-year-old William T. Hilling (1875-1919), the son of Nelson and Catherine (Inks) Hilling of Chalk Hill, Fayette County. He was 10 years her senior, and it was a first marriage for both. The ceremony was performed at Connellsville by Rev. C.A. Sturns.

The Hillings had nine children -- Annabelle Herring, Edward T. "Bo" Hilling, William Woodrow Hilling, Arthur Hilling, George N. Hilling, Mabel Bishoff, Nellie G. Hilling, Mary Fordyce and Gertrude Marie Hilling. 

In an interesting twist, Della's cousin Ulysses Simpson "Grant" Turner was married to Nelson's sister, Mary Etta Hilling.

They dwelled along the National Pike (U.S. Route 40) at Chalk Hill near Uniontown, PA. When the federal census was taken in 1910, the Hillings and their three eldest daughters lived together, with William employed as a "retail merchant," working in a local grocery. That year, their next-door neighbor was Della's uncle and aunt, Stewart and Eliza (Groover) Minerd (Stuart Miner). William's primary work circa 1919 was as a farmer.


Chalk Hill Lutheran Cemetery

Tragedy rocked this family when William contracted a deadly case of typhoid fever during the first week of the new year in 1919. He suffered for six days and succumbed at home on Jan. 13, 1919, at the age of only 45. Rev. David Ewing Minerd, Della's cousin and the famed "Blacksmith Preacher" of Fayette County, conducted the funeral at the Hilling Home. In an obituary, the Connellsville Daily Courier reported that William had "conducted a store at Chalk Hill."

His untimely death left Della widowed at age 32 with seven children under the age of 14, and expecting twin babies who were not yet born.

Della outlived her husband by more than two decades. The 1920 census shows her in their home, with all nine children, along the National Pike, but with no way of making a living. How she endured the 1920s, and kept her home and family intact, is not yet known. 

In 1930, with her three eldest daughters married and living away, she maintained a home in Chalk Hill, with her sons George (age 18) and Arthur (16) working to generate income. George labored in a saw mill, while Arthur earned money laboring in a summer home.

She endured the death of her eldest daughter Gertrude in 1936, at the age of 30. 

Della was afflicted with uremia and chronic nephritis (kidney disease) for about five years. She passed away in the Uniontown Hospital on Aug. 4, 1940, at the age of 55, "after a lingering illness," said a local newspaper. She was buried beside her husband in the cemetery of the Chalk Hill Lutheran Church. Rev. William Hough officiated at the funeral. Obituaries were published in the Uniontown and Connellsville newspapers.


Chalk Hill Lutheran Church



Chalk Hill Lutheran Cemetery

~ Daughter Gertrude Marie Hilling ~

Daughter Gertrude Marie Hilling (1905-1936) was born on Dec. 8, 1905. 

She resided in Chalk Hill near Uniontown and apparently never married. At the age of 15, in 1921, following the death of her father, she moved into the home of Frank W. and Edna Gleason at Chalk Hill. She remained in the Gleason home for many years and worked as their domestic servant.

Without having married, she and Albert Marker produced a daughter, Betty Jane. The daughter carried her mother's maiden name of "Hilling."

Gertrude and Betty Jane were members of the Chalk Hill Lutheran Church, also known as "Christ's Lutheran Chapel."

Gertrude suffered from chronic heart-valve disease, and in November 1936, at the age of 30, was admitted to the Uniontown Hospital for treatment. She was unable to recover, and died in the hospital on Feb. 25, 1936. Following a funeral held at the Gleason home, said the Uniontown Daily News Standard, she was laid to rest at the Chalk Hill Lutheran Church Cemetery. Among those attending the funeral was her lifelong friend Harold Gleason, having traveled from Mount Union.

Daughter Betty Jane Marker (1926-2017) was born on July 2, 1926 in Chalk Hill to a single mother. At the age of 3 years, 9 months, she lived with her mother in the home of Frank W. and Edna Gleason in Chalk Hill. Betty Jane was only 10 years old at he rmother's death. She was joined in marriage with William H. Berwick Jr. (June 4, 1925-2004). Their children were Donna Tressler and David Berwick. As a young married woman, Betty Jane was employed as an operator by Bell Telephone Company. Later, after having borne children, she became a stay-at-home mother. They resided in Hopwood and were members of the Connellsville Street Church of Christ, where she taught Sunday School. Reported the Uniontown (PA) Herald-Standard, "Her love was for God first, family and friends. She also served her community in a large way by being the first to help anyone in need... [with] compassion and selfless towards others." William passed into eternity at the age of 78 on April 24, 2004. Betty Jane lived for another 13 years and spent her final time on earth in LaFayette Manor. She died at the age of 91 on Dec. 1, 2017. Evangelist David Watson officiated at the funeral held in the family church, with burial in Mt. View Memorial Cemetery.

  • Granddaughter Donna Berwick married Almon Tressler. They live in Hopwood and have one son, Dustin K. Tressler.
  • Grandson David Berwick wedded Michele. They dwell in Smithfield, Fayette County and have a daughter, Megan Mateosky.


~ Daughter Mabel (Hilling) Bishoff ~


Mt. Washington Presbyterian Cemetery

Daughter Mabel M. Hilling (1907-1981) was born on May 9, 1907.

At the age of 17, she married Elmer W. Bishoff (1903-1994), son of Homer and Olive E. (Ramsey) Bishoff. The ceremony was held at the First Presbyterian Church of Uniontown on June 20, 1925, officiated by Rev. Scott Bowman. 

They resided in Farmington and had five children -- Janet B. Bishoff, Frances Randlett, Jean Jackson, Irma Dell Miller and Doris Ann Swanson.

To celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, on June 20, 1975, an open house was held at the Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church in Farmington. They were pictured in a related story in the Uniontown Evening Standard

Mabel passed away in November 1981 at the age of 74.


Book naming Elmer Bishoff

Elmer outlived his wife by 13 years. He died on Oct. 28, 1994, at age 91.

In 1994, a photograph of Elmer, a member of the 1915-1916 elementary school class at Mt. Washington School, was published in the book, Yesteryear in Ohiopyle and Surrounding Communities, Vol. II, compiled by author Marci Lynn McGuinness.

Daughter Janet G. Bishoff (1926-2000) was born in 1926. She did not marry. She passed away in 2000, at about age 74, and rests with her parents at Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Chalk Hill.

Daughter Jean Bishoff married John L. Jackson.

Daughter Irma Dell Bishoff married Roy W. Miller of Chalk Hill. 

Daughter Doris Ann Bishoff wed Walter W. Swanson. In the mid-1970s, they made their home in Coral Springs, FL. Their two known children were Eric Swanson and Chris Swanson.


Mt. Washington Presbyterian Cemetery


Daughter Frances Bishoff (1927- ? ) was born on Nov. 13, 1927. She was united in holy matrimony with Louis H. "Spiz" Randlett (1927-2005). They had one known child, Kathy Randlett. Said the Uniontown Herald-Standard, Spiz was a self-made businessman who got his start in Uniontown in the 1940s with the I.N. Hagan Milk and Ice Cream Company.

He then ran a service station in Farmington as well as the National Highway Motor Sales auto dealership in Markleysburg, Pa. After serving two years in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict he took over partnership in 1953 of the Uniontown Farm Equipment Company where he remained in successful business for 27 years. While in business, he served four years on the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Farm and Power Association... He was a member of Mount Washington Presbyterian Church, Farmington, for over 60 years where he served as an Elder, Deacon and Trustee, and Property Committee Chairperson and was instrumental in the development and care taking of the church cemetery. He served on the Board of Directors for the Izaak Walton League of Uniontown. He was a Charter Member of the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department.

Louis passed into eternity on May 9, 2005. His remains were placed into rest in the Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church Cemetery.


~ Daughter Annabelle (Hilling) Herring ~

Daughter Annabelle Hilling (1909-1991 ) was born on Nov. 12, 1909. She married Paul Eugene Herring (1909-1992). Their one known daughter was Roberta Louise Wright Gleason.

Circa 1936, they lived at Hopwood, Fayette County. Later, by the 1950s, they resided in Farmington, Fayette County, where Paul was co-owner of the Herring and Wright Lumber Mill at Chalk Hill, across the highway from the famed Stone House restaurant. He then founded a transport company, Herring Trucking, which moved goods throughout the Eastern United States.

In August 1971, the Herrings attended the 20th annual reunion of the Thomas Newton and Elizabeth Jane Herring family at the Farmington Hunting and Fishing Club at Gibbons Glade, Fayette County. Paul won an award at the event for driving the oldest automobile. They went to other Herring reunions during the rest of the 1970s. 

Annabelle passed away on Aug. 26, 1991, at age 81.

Paul outlived his wife by a little more than 15 months. He died on Dec. 9, 1992, a month shy of his 84th birthday.

Daughter Roberta Hilling married James Edward Wright, son of Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Wright of Brandonville, Preston County, WV. At the time of marriage in June 1952, James was employed his his father's family business. Later in the 1950s, she married J.P. Gleason of Elliottsville, Fayette County.


~ Son George Hilling ~

Son George N. Hilling (1911-1992) is believed to have been born on April 5, 1911. 

He married Mabel Staup ( ? - ? ), daughter of George and Anna (McNair) Staup of Ohiopyle, Fayette County. 

The Hillings resided in Farmington. George worked as a custodian for the Uniontown School District in the 1960s. 

George is thought to have died on May 17, 1992.


~ Son Charles " Arthur" Hilling ~

Son Charles "Arthur" Hilling (1914- ? ) was born in 1914. 

He lived in Farmington in 1968. 


~ Daughter Mary B. (Hilling) Fordyce ~

Daughter Mary B. Hilling (1915 - ? ) was born in about 1915. 

She married (?) Fordyce. 

Circa 1968-1975, she made her home in Clifton, TX.


~ Son William Woodrow Hilling ~

Son William Woodrow Hilling (1917-1968) was born in 1917. As a young man, he was employed in nearby Greene County, PA with the Island Coal Company.

On May 26, 1951, at the age of 33, William married 23-year-old Ruth Epley (1927-2012), daughter of Charles and Bertie Marie (Kyre) Epley of Fairchance, Fayette County. At the time, she worked at G.C. Murphy Company, and her photograph was published in a related Uniontown Evening Standard story about her engagement. The nuptials were performed in Oakland, MD, at the parsonage of St. Paul's Methodist Church.


Burial site of the Hillings

The Hillings had five daughters -- Sandra Lee Campbell, Terry Lynn Fieldson, Susan Marie Kopacko, Della Chuma and Cheryl Storey. On Nov. 1, 1961, a photograph of Susan, Terry and Sandra was published in the Evening Standard in connection with their respective birthdays. Over the years, their birthdays were publicized with stories in the newspaper.

They resided on 44 Maurice Street in Uniontown and were members of the Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church of Farmington. 

William was a coal miner and member of the United Mine Workers of America. In 1968, he was employed at the Karen Mine in Fredericktown, Washington County, PA. Tragically, William died suddenly at work on Aug. 5, 1968, at the age of 51. He was laid to rest in Lafayette Memorial Park near Uniontown. 

After William's death, Ruth supported herself with employment in Uniontown at G.C. Murphy Company, Green Thumb and Goodwill Industries. She "loved watching Steelers games, taking care of her home and she especially loved her chihuahua," reported the Uniontown Herald-Standard

Ruth outlived her husband by an astounding 43-plus years. She spent her final years in Uniontown, and died there at the age of 85 on April 15, 2012. At her death, said the Herald Standard, she was survived by nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was interred in LaFayette Memorial Park in Brier Hill near Uniontown.


Chalk Hill Lutheran Cemetery

~ Daughter Nellie G. Hilling ~

Daughter Nellie G. Hilling (1919-2000) was born in 1919, and was a twin with her brother Edward "Bo."

She never married. 


White Swan Hotel, Uniontown

Nellie worked for the White Swan Hotel and at the Uniontown Hospital Gift Shop for decades. The White Swan, along the National Highway (Route 40), is seen here in the years before it was converted to a personal care home.

Nellie died in 2000 at the age of 81. She rests with her siblings Gertrude and Edward and their parents at the Chalk Hill Lutheran Church Cemetery. 


~ Son Edward T. "Bo" Hilling ~

Son Edward T. "Bo" Hilling (1919-1975) was born in 1919 and was a twin with his sister Nellie. 

He married Marguerite Geho ( ? - ? ), daughter of William C. and Blanche E. Geho.

They had two children -- Eric Hilling and Christine Hilling. He was a member of the Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church.

Bo was a clerk with the National Tube Division of U.S. Steel Corporation in McKeesport, near Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA. 


Furnaces of the National Tube works



Chalk Hill Lutheran Cemetery

Edward lived in Pittsburgh circa 1968. By the mid-1970s, he had returned to Uniontown possibly following a divorce, and was residing at 75 Morgantown Street. His children remained in McKeesport, near Pittsburgh.

He died at the age of 56 on Nov. 18, 1975, in Uniontown Hospital. Following a funeral at the Jerome W. Shell Funeral Home, he was laid to rest in St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery in Chalk Hill, officiated by Rev. Robert Walsh. An obituary was published in the Uniontown Morning Herald

Son Eric Hilling lived in McKeesport in 1975. 

Daughter Christine Hilling made her home in the mid-1970s in McKeesport.


Copyright 2001-2002, 2005-2006, 2010, 2012, 2017 Mark A. Miner