Birth: About 1742 Probably Northern Ireland
Death: 8 Dec 1803 Washington Co., PA
Matthew HILLIS (abt 1742 - 8 Dec 1803) & Elizabeth CARR (abt 1742 - 6 Nov 1820)
Jane HILLIS (9 Dec 1767 - 13 Dec 1849) & Robert GLASS ( - 1798)
Thomas GLASS* (abt 1793 - ) & Mary KIRK
Dorcas GLASS (25 Jan 1814 - 20 Nov 1892) & Aaron Kimble ATEN (18 Feb 1812 - 9 Sep 1901)
Ellen Arminda ATEN (17 Dec 1849 - 6 Mar 1919) & Moody ROBINSON (11 Dec 1850 - 22 Mar 1938)
Adelia Gertrude ROBINSON (12 Sep 1878 - 16 Jan 1973) & Newton COFFEY (1875 - 1969)
Leo Newton COFFEY (22 Jul 1901 - 26 Oct 1998) & Elsie Maureen WALKER (1903 - 1983)
NOTE: Most of my information on my G5 Grandfather Matthew HILLIS comes from Terese Hiles-Olson, who has put tremendous effort into researching her Hillis ancestry. She descends from Matthew's probable brother John, who is her G6 Grandfather. Any info below taken from her notes is prefaced with the label "(Terese)".
Note that in the early years Matthew is found in the area where Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland come together. And in the earliest years Delaware was not a colony, but rather a disputed territory between PA and MD. Thus the mix of locations below:
BIRTH: ABOUT 1742: (Terese): Some have suggested he was born in Northern Ireland. Some say in County Sligo. Others believe he is the son of a local Hilles/Hillis/ or Hillas family. There are many such families to choose from.
1763 TAX ROLL: (Terese): Found on the Nottingham Twp., PA, tax roll. Note the boundary lines for Nottingham changed drastically after this date, and he may or may not have lived within the current Maryland border.
1766 TAX ROLL: (Terese): Found on the North Milford Hundred, Cecil Co., Maryland tax rolls. Listed as Matthew & John Hilles. (Memo from Fred: Saw abstract of this tax roll. It listed number of slaves (Matthew had none), and for some curious reason also listed the number of dogs (Matthew didn't have a dog).)
1767 MARRIAGE: Matthew Hilles/Hillis marries Elizabeth Carr of White Clay Creek Hundred, New Castle, DE.
1772 WASHINGTON CO., PA: Matthew has land holdings for Dunlap Creek, Washington Co.
1773 WITNESS TO WILL: Matthew was a witness for the will of Arthur Carr, the brother of his wife Elizabeth, at White Clay Creek Hundred, New Castle, DE. This will also lists Elizabeth's mother Jane, and her brothers William and David.
(Tim Peterman): From DAR Index: Matthew Hillis served as private in Capt. Thomas Rankins' company, Col. William Crawford's regiment, in the Sandusky expedition; also a Ranger on the frontier of Washington County, PA.
(Terese): Service with the Washington County Rangers of western PA. Listed under the command of Thomas Rankin. (Note: Thomas Rankin's line participated in the notorious 1782 "Gnudenhutten Massacre" (the killing of 96 Christian American Indians at a Moravian missionary village). Although I found ¾ of the line on a partial list, I did not find Matthew. The catalyst, however, was an Indian raid on a Raccoon Creek neighbor of Matthew's, the Robert Wallace family.)
(Terese): Matthew may have participated in the "Crawford Expedition". (aka "Sandusky Expedition") This was an American defeat at the hands of the British and Indians. The retreat turned into a rout, with several of the Patriots captured and executed by the Indians as revenge for the Gnudenhutten Massacre.) Almost all of the 100 to 200 participants of the Gnudenhutten Massacre had joined the line led by William Crawford. I have not found any documentation for Matthew on reimbursement for lost horse or supplied from that expedition of which many filed for. Therefore I am assuming he was of the 200 plus who escaped by horseback.
1784 LAND HOLDINGS: (Terese): He had land holdings for Chartiers Creek (about fifteen miles southwest of Fort Pitt), Washington Co., PA
1786 LAND HOLDINGS: (Terese): Had land holdings for Raccoon Creek, Washington Co., PA.
(by Fred Coffey): The evidence shows that our Great (several times) Grandfather Matthew Hillis had an interesting confrontation with General George Washington, father of our country. The source of this information comes from Boyd Crumrine's "History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men" (Philadelphia: L. H. Leverts & Co., 1882). You can read the full text at:
If it remains available, you can also find fascinating discussion in an article published in The Washington Post on June 6, 2004, titled “George Washington’s Western Adventure” by Joel Achenbach. This article can be found at:
(Both of these sites were still active in May 2016.)
In 1784, after the revolution and before he was elected president, George Washington took a trip to western Pennsylvania, to what is now Washington County, to inspect a mill and some land he owned. This trip resulted in a confrontation between General Washington and some Scotch-Irish settlers (George considered them "squatters") that were on the land that George claimed. These settlers defied General Washington, and refused to move, and George threatened to take them to court. (The settlers remained defiant, but George ultimately won the court case.)
We have excerpts from Washington's 1884 journal, which he kept, describing his inspection of the land and the status of the squatters living there. George had this to say about his visit and about two of those settlers:
"September 19th. Being Sunday, and the People living on my Land apparently very religious, it was thought best to postpone going among them till tomorrow.... "September 20th. Went early this morning to view my Land, and to receive the final determination of those who live upon it…
"William Hillas; 20 acres of arable Land no Meadow. But one house, and that indifferent; fences not good. "
"Matthew Hillast; has with my line about 7 Acres of Meadow, 3 besides; Arable; also a small double Barn."
Overlooking George's spelling (Matthew probably couldn't write, so George was left to figure out the spelling based on the sound of the name), could this be our Matthew Hillis? There's more:
George took the case to Washington County Court, and the trial was in 1786. After winning the case, George then sold the land, some 2813 acres, to Matthew Ritchie for $12,000. Ritchie died, and his heir sold the land in parcels in 1802. And Crumrine reports that "On the 8th of September the same year ninety-nine acres were sold to Matthew Hillis."
Further, another entry by Crumrine tells us that OUR Matthew Hillis was indeed living right there: "Matthew Hillis was a settler here before these lands were sold. He had taken up a tract of land on a Virginia certificate, on hundred and thirty acres of which he sold Dec. 5, 1803, to John McKibbins. He died in 1803. He left a wife, Elizabeth, and seven daughters, --Elizabeth (Mrs. Hugh Dobbins), Martha (Mrs. John McKibbins), Eleanor (Mrs. Abraham Boyd), Rebecca (Mrs. Ebenezer R. Donaldson), Jane (Mrs. ---- Glass), Agnes (Mrs. ----- Smith), and Mary. There were in 1780 a Richard and William Hillis; the latter was one of those ejected in 1784."
From other records, we also now know that Matthew's daughter "Jane (Mrs. --- Glass)" was actually Jane (Hillis) Glass, the wife of our ancestor Robert Glass. And note that the buyer of Matthew’s land just before his death was his son-in-law. Also, from evidence introduced in the court case, we know that the Seceders (the group of settlers, see below) arrived and settled the area in October 1773. (Matthew may have been here slightly earlier than that, based on a 1772 land entry.)
So Matthew Hillis did indeed have "… about 7 Acres of Meadow, 3 besides; Arable; also a small double Barn" on land claimed by Washington. However he wasn't a party to the "ejectment suit" trial in 1786, presumably because only his little barn was at stake and his house was safely off the disputed area. I wonder if the 99 acres he later bought include his "small double Barn"? Was William Hillis his brother, and was Matthew buying back some of his brother's land too? Was Richard Hillis another brother? Or maybe even his father?
(Terese): I did a nine-month research paper on William HILLAS/HILLIS, and no, he is not the brother of Matthew. However I suspect they did know each other, as William named his third son Mathhew, and both men lived within a few miles of each other in both Washington Co. and in Cecil Co., Maryland. As for Richard Hillis… who is he? I have read references made to him via forums but have NEVER come across any documentation about him.
(Terese): Re the land dispute: Through a careful reading of Washington's letters to William Crawford, and documentation pertaining to George Croghan, I am more inclined to believe that the settlers had a greater right to the land that did Washington. He was speculating and did so illegally. He used his power to win the case, knowing that if the traveling Supreme Court Judge heard the case, he would win.
Back in the 1600's, England was doing flip-flops as to whether their rulers were going to be Catholic or Protestant, and Catholic Ireland was very much a party to this discord. Whenever the rulers were Protestant, they began to confiscate the lands of the Irish in Northern Ireland.
And the English then began to encourage lowland Protestant Scots to settle in Northern Ireland and counter the Catholic Irish. These immigrants became the "Scotch-Irish", or if you prefer "Scots-Irish" or "Ulster Scots". (And there you have the beginning of today's continuing troubles in Northern Ireland.)
In the 1700's these "Scots-Irish" began to have economic difficulties of their own, and also to have their own disputes with the English. The Scots (Presbyterian) did not want to take oaths imposed by the English (Church of England). And there were internal issues in the Presbyterian Church. So many of them began to leave, and many ended up in western Pennsylvania.
They often moved to America with their entire families, or even whole communities. General Washington, in his notes taken after he had dinner with the settlers, mentions "…their religious principles (which had brought them together as a society of Ceceders)…", suggesting these settlers were a close-knit group who likely had religious association going back to Ireland.
(The "Ceceders" (Seceders) term refers to a branch of Presbyterianism that did not go along with all the beliefs of the Established Church of Scotland. These Seceders or dissenters eventually became the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Every religious record we find for all our family from this general time period suggests they were strong Presbyterians.)
Our cousin Tim Peterman relates an interesting story about the status of these tough Scots-Irish settlers in Pennsylvania: "The Penn colony centered around Philadelphia – a Quaker city. Surrounding Philadelphia, Penn wanted Welshmen, because they were supposedly good in industry. Beyond the Welsh, Penn wanted Germans, because they were supposedly good farmers. Beyond the Germans, Penn wanted Scotch-Irish. Why? Because the Scots-Irish (more properly Ulster Scots) were descended from the lowland Scots that the Stuart kings had sent to Ireland to bring it under control. Penn figured that the Scots-Irish could deal with the Indians just as effectively as they had the Irish."
1787 TAX, SMITH TWP, WASHINGTON CO:
Taxed on 300 acres land, 2 horses, and 3 cows.
CENSUS REPORTS: The 1790 census of Washington Co., PA (p. 251) showed Matthew Hillis with 6 females (a wife & 5 daughters??) The 1800 census of Smiths Twp, Washington Co., PA showed Matthew Hillis, born before 1755, with a presumed wife born before 1755 and a presumed daughter born 1774-84.
WILL: The will of Matthew Hillis was written Apr. 3, 1790 & probated Dec. 30, 1803. He names his wife, Elizabeth and seven daughters: Jean Glass, Agnes Smith, Elizabeth, Martha, Elenor, Mary, and Rebecca. Those were their names as of 1790. (The partial text of the will can be found on ancestry.com. Specific reference: “I will to my Daughter Jean Glass the sum of 20 shillings.” Part of will missing, copying problem?)
Reports his burial in Oak Spring Cemetery, Canonsburg, Washington Co., PA.
Spouse: Elizabeth CARR
Birth: abt 1742 White Clay Creek Hundred, New Castle Co., DE
Death: 6 Nov 1820 Harrison Co., OH
The 1820 Census for Ohio, Harrison County, Cadiz Township shows a John McKibben. Ages of family are broadly consistent with the John McKibben in this web site, who married Elizabeth’s daughter Martha. And there are two females over age 45, suggesting that Elizabeth was living there.
Matthew Hillis died before 1810. The 1810 census of Smiths Twp, Washington Co., PA showed an Elizabeth Hillis, born before 1765, with a female born 1784-65, a female born 1784-94, a female born 1794-1800, and a male born 1800-10. It looks like a widowed daughter had moved in with her. We can't say that this was Jane, since we know from his will that Matthew had seven daughters.
The above website shows that Elizabeth Carr was born in ca. 1742 in White Clay Creek Hundred, New Castle Co., DE. Tim Peterman looked this up on the map & found that this land joins the Pennsylvania line, just inside of the southwestern most part of the arc that separates modern Delaware from Pennsylvania. At the time, Delaware was considered part of PA. She supposedly married Matthew Hillis at the same place ca. 1767. These dates are of course estimates.
The death date of Elizabeth (Carr) Hillis was identified as Nov. 6, 1820 in Harris Co., OH. I checked the map & there is no Harris Co., OH. There is a Harrison Co., OH & my current guess is that the author made a minor typographical error. Harrison Co., OH lies northwest of Wheeling, VA."
Reports her burial as Crabapple Church and Cemetery, located in Wheeling Township, Belmont CO., OH
Matthew HILLIS ( - 8 Dec 1803) & Elizabeth CARR (abt 1742 - 6 Nov 1820)
Jane HILLIS (abt 1768 - ) & Robert GLASS
Agnes HILLIS (abt 1770 - ) & SMITH
Elizabeth HILLIS (1772 - ) & Hugh DOBBINS
Martha HILLIS (1776 - ) & John McKIBBIN (2 Jan 1763 - 21 Dec 1844)
Eleanor HILLIS (1778 - ) & Abraham BOYD
Mary HILLIS (1782 - )
Rebecca HILLIS (24 Mar 1786 - 1 Apr 1843) & Ebenezer Reynolds DONALDSON (29 Dec 1771 - 18 Dec 1840)
Please report corrections or additions to... FredCoffey@AOL.COM