Sarah Cooper Tatum was born circa 1832, the daughter of Joseph Tatum (1806-1881) and Anne Cooper Tatum (1808-1834) of Woodbury, New Jersey. Sarah had one brother, John Cooper Tatum, who was a farmer and Director of the First National Bank in Woodbury, New Jersey. Sarah and John were educated at Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania from around 1846 to 1848, and John also attended Haverford College from 1850 to 1852. Anne Cooper Tatum died in 1834, when Sarah and John were small children. Joseph Tatum was remarried in 1845 to Hannah M. Whitall. Sarah Cooper Tatum married John Smith Hilles (1830-1876) on May 7, 1862. They had four children: Anne Tatum Hilles (1863-unidentified), William Samuel Hilles (1865-1928), Joseph Tatum Hilles (1867-1924) and Margaret Hill Hilles (1870-unidentified).
John Smith Hilles was born in 1830, the second son of Samuel Hilles (1788-1873) and Margaret Hill Smith Hilles (1786-1882), who were married in 1821. He attended Haverford College from 1844 to 1845 and afterwards operated brick kilns in Wilmington, Delaware. Later, he operated a coal-yard in Philadelphia and then went on to work for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, serving as General Freight Agent and Assistant Superintendent. Eventually, the Railroad gave him charge over their new steam vessel shipping service. Hilles’ work with Philadelphia and Reading Railroad attracted the attention of William P. Clyde and Company, a Philadelphia shipping firm, which hired him as manager and eventually made him a partner. John Smith Hilles was also involved with the Friends Association of Philadelphia and its Vicinity for the Relief of Colored Freedmen, making at least one trip into the south to visit and report back on the conditions of the freed black communities on Roanoke Island in Virginia and other places in the early 1860s.
John and Sarah Hilles’ son, William Samuel Hilles (1865-1928), graduated from Haverford College with honors in 1885, providing the valedictory address at the commencement ceremonies and receiving the Alumni prize for composition and oratory. He was also captain of the cricket team in 1884 and 1885.
William Samuel Hilles, John Smith Hilles’ older brother, graduated from Haverford when it was a select boarding school and then worked as an instructor there from 1844 to 1845. He then moved to Wilmington, Delaware and worked for Richard P. Gibbons as a clerk in a rolling mill. He moved to Philadelphia and worked as the Secretary of McCullough and Company in 1859. In 1860, he moved back to Wilmington and worked as Director of the National Bank of Delaware until 1862 when he became involved in a machine-shop where engines, boilers and machine tools were manufactured. The William S. Hilles, a seven-hundred ton schooner was one of the wooden ships built. He died in Nice, France in 1876. William Samuel Hilles married Sarah Lancaster Allen, daughter of Dr. Thomas L. Allen on May 17, 1849. They had four children: Susan Watson Hilles, Thomas Allen Hilles (b. 1852), Samuel Eli Hilles (1854-1928) and Margaret Smith Hilles (1856-1912).
John Smith Hilles also had a sister, Gulielma Marie Hilles Howland.
Samuel Hilles, John Smith Hilles’ father, was a notable educator, who taught at the Westtown School; opened his own school in Wilmington, Delaware; and served as Haverford College’s first principal, among other positions. From 1841 to 1873, he served as director of the Bank of Delaware, and from 1851 to 1857 he served as director of an insurance company. He also dedicated time and efforts toward the abolition of slavery, participating in the Underground Railroad by hiding slaves in his barn. He also served as the first president of the Friends Freedman’s Association which was established on November 5, 1863 as an Association of Friends of Philadelphia and its Vicinity for the Relief of the Colored Freedmen. As a Quaker, Samuel Hilles served as Assistant clerk of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Orthodox) and as an elder of the Wilmington Monthly Meeting.
Margaret Hill Smith Hilles, John Smith Hilles’ mother, was born on November 7, 1786 and died March 27, 1882.
Brown, Francis G. Downingtown Friends Meeting: An Early History of Quakers in the Great Valley. Glenmorore, PA: Glenmoore Corp., 1999.
Dictionary of Quaker Biography, Haverford College: Friends Review, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 48, July 4, 1885, pp. 761-762.
Descendents of David Hilles: http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/h/i/l/William-C-Hilles/PDFGENE60.pdf (accessed November 6, 2009).
Hilles, Samuel E. Memorials of the Hilles Family: More Particularly of Samuel and Margaret Hill Hilles of Wilmington, Delaware. Cincinnati: S.E. Hilles, 1928.