Thursday, May 12, 2011

Portraits of Huron’s Past: Edward R. Hilton

The occupations of those living in Huron, Ohio, at the turn of the twentieth century varied as greatly as they do today. Around 1900, occupations of Huron residents included farmer, fisherman, shop keeper, etc. Edward R. Hilton’s occupation was a bit different from the norm in that he was a lumber salesman. Hilton was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1868. At the age of 15, he left school and began working in Detroit’s lumber yards. Hilton’s work in the lumber industry ranged from logging to sawmill operator to commercial salesman. His financial success in the lumber industry came due to his extensive knowledge of the industry and his great enthusiasm. Hilton moved to Huron prior to 1890 and worked as a sales representative for various lumber companies, eventually representing three southern companies- Crossett Lumber Company of Arkansas, Enoch Brothers Lumber Company of Mississippi, and Ruddick Orleans Cypress Company of Louisiana.

After residing in Huron for only a few years, Edward Hilton moved to Toledo, Cleveland, and then Ontario. He returned to Huron and, in October of 1893, married Miss Mary Halladay of Huron. Through this union, two children were born: Ruth in 1896 and Edward, Jr. in 1903.

In April of 1905, Edward and Mary purchased a lot on Center Street for $625 and constructed a comfortable and attractive residence of eight rooms, which were all equipped with the most modern of conveniences and facilities. This grand house became the hub of social and family events for the Hilton family. Though Edward, Sr. traveled a great deal with his job, Edward and Mary were socialites and often entertained at their home. Edward was civically active and served as a trustee for the Children’s Home in Sandusky from 1917-1919. Further, Edward was a member of the village council in Huron and was appointed as mayor of Huron in 1920 during a time when no one else wanted the job. In addition, he was prominent in the Masonic organization, Knights Templar, and the Toledo Consistory.

Ruth Hilton, a graduate of Huron High School and Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, married Lieutenant David Taylor at the home of her parents on November 29, 1919. The wedding came just one day before Lt. Taylor of Norwalk was to sail to France on military duty. The couple was stationed in many locations, but spent five years in the Philippines where all three of their children were born. Edward Hilton, Jr. attended college in Pennsylvania and eventually settled in Florida with his wife, Margaret.

Edward Hilton, Sr. died at his home in November of 1941. His funeral was held at the Center Street home, and he was buried in Scott Cemetery. Mary Hilton died in 1961. Though the Hilton family is gone from Huron, the house they built in 1905, located at 217 Center Street, stands as a reminder of an influential Huron family of the past.