Herbert Bradford Hill (1904-1943) and Lorena Geneva Nichols (1902-1982)

 

Photo of Herbert, Lorena and young Milford in 1928 courtesy of Georgia Belle Nichols.

The father of Milford Lee Hill was Herbert Bradford Hill who was born in Magdalena, New Mexico on September 23, 1904. My brothers Marty and Paul Hill did an immense amount of work to piece together the family history. Herbert's parents were Francis Marion Hill and Sarah Rebecca Wilson. For his genealogy see the Hill Family Genealogy page.

This branch of the Hill family moved into Socorro County, New Mexico in the 1880s, where Francis and Sarah married on November 4, 1885 in her sister's home. Sarah had been born on January 24, 1870 in Mexico, Audrain Co., Missouri and so was 15 at the time she married. She died on June 22, 1957 in Prescott, Arizona and was buried in the Pioneer's Home Cemetery.

The Hill family mined copper in the Magdalena section of the county. The siblings of Herbert, born on September 23, 1904 in Magdalena, Socorro, NM, were: Charles Francis Hill born in September 1886 in Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico; Robert Marion Hill born on June 15, 1892 in Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico; (the Social Security Death Index says he was born in 1891); Arthur G. Hill born Feb 1893, Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico; David N. Hill, born Dec. 1899 in Magdalena; Milton D. born in 1900 in Magdalena.

Sharlott Hall Library in Prescott sent me copies of the Hill pages of the City Directories for 1923, 1925, 1926 and 1928. In 1923 Herbert B Hill was listed as an attendant at Whipple Barracks. I don't see anyone else who would be a relation. In 1925, he is listed as an attendant at Whipple Barracks. Lorena's name is given and their home address is given as 431 S. Montezuma (that's two numbers down from 429 S. Montezuma, the Nichols' address in 1919. Sarah R. Hill (widow of F M) is listed with the home address 535 E. Sheldon. In 1926 he is listed as an asst pharmacist at Whipple Barracks, wife Lorena, with the address 142 N. Summit. Sarah's address is given as 412 Sheldon. In 1928, he is given as an asst pharmacist at Whipple Barracks, wife Lorena. His brother Robert M is given as a Miner living at 726 E. Willis and Sarah, widow of F M, is given as living at the same address.

Herbert Bradford Hill married Lorena Geneva Nichols in Flagstaff, Arizona in September 1923, two days after her father Milford Lee Nichols was buried. A marriage record that we obtained from Cococino County saying that the marriage took place on September 23, 1925 (that was Herbert's 21st birthday), which would have made her 7 months pregnant at the time of her marriage, is wrong according to a recently inquiry to the Arizona State Archives. That certificate also says that both she and Herbert were 21 years old at the time they married and there are some problems with that too. Lorena was born in Snyder, Curry County, Texas (her Bible says Verbena, Garza County, Texas) on March 16, 1902 to Milford Lee Nichols and May Retta Lester

The Arizona State Archives have now supplied me with a copy of their marriage license and certificate. The License reads:

To any Regularly Licensed or Ordained Minister of the Gospel, any Judge of a Court of Record, or any Justice of the Peace Within this County: You are hereby authorized to solemnize the RITES OF MATRIMONY between Herbert B. Hill, age 21 of Prescott, Yavapai county, Arizona and Lorena G. Nichols, age 21 of Flagstaff, Coconino County, Arizona and endorse the same on this License and make return thereof to this office according to law. I witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and afficed my official Seal this 22nd day of September A.D. 1923. Signed by the Clerk of the Superior Court of Coconino County, Arizona.

The Marriage Certificate reads:

This certifies that on the 23rd day of September A. D. 1923 Herbert B. Hill and Lorena G. Nichols were united in marriage at Flagstaff, Arizona according to the laws of the State of Arizona and by the authority of the forgoing License by J. W. Saunders in the presence of R. L. Nichols and Georgia B. Nichols who haver hereto attached their signatures as witness to said marriage ceremony. In witness thereof, the said contracting parts, the said witnesses and the said J. W. Saunders, who solmenized such marriage ceremony have hereunto set their hands, this 23 day of September A. D. 1923. All the people signed it. I must say that all the signatures look as if they were signed by the same hand.

Their children were:

Milford Lee Hill, born at 5 pm on November 24, 1925 in the home of his parents at 431 S. Montezuma St., Prescott, Yavapai Co., AZ. His father Herbert is listed as a pharmacist on the birth certificate.

Thomas Robert Hill was born on April 22, 1928, in Flagstaff, Coconino Co., AZ. On his birth certificate, his father is listed as 23 years old, born in Magdalena, New Mexico and a pharmacist. The age of his mother is given as 26 years old, born in Post City, Texas, whose occupation is wife.

 

Photo of Tommy (left) and Milford (right) courtesy of Georgia Belle Nichols

Lorena moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico in the early thirties, where she worked as a switchboard operator for the telephone. It seems that May Retta basically accompanied her. According to my father's first cousin Lola Mae Jenkins, Alamogordo was chosen because Lorena's sister Georgia Belle (Lola Mae's mother) had a job there and was supporting the five of them. That is where Tommy and Milford grew up.

Herbert died escaping from prison in Florence, Arizona. The story as told by Lorena, Georgia Belle and the cousin whom I found taking care of Robert is that Herbert held up some people and was caught and sent to prison. It is said that he never hurt anybody. He just scared a lot of people. Georgia Belle says that he used to say that his middle initial was D. for devil. However, since it was B. I think that it must have been for Beelzebub.

In a letter that Lorena wrote to Milford in 1968, she said that this happened when she was pregnant with Tommy in the beginning of the depression and they needed money. Tommy, though, was born in April 1928, before the depression. By other reports Herbert died in December 1940 or January 1941.

The Arizona Department of Corrections has no record of his having been imprisoned in Arizona. According to the History & Archives Division of the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records at the State Capitol in Phoenix, there is no death certificate for Herbert from 1928-1939. They did not find a prison record, criminal case in Coconino or Yavapai counties, probate case or divorce case for him and Lorena in Flagstaff or Prescott.

Great aunt Georgia Belle Nichols once told me that she once went with Lorena to visit Herbert in prison in California, which is a whole new story! Some kind researchers in California report that they couldn't find Herbert Bradford Hill listed as a prisoner of San Quentin, from 1851 to 1940, either as Herbert, etc. Hill, or as Bradford Hill.

Milford and Tommy were told that their father died when they were very small. However, Tommy went to West Point and became a professional military man. At one point he was questioned about the fact that he had said that his father had died when Tommy was young, but a background investigation had shown that he was alive after that. My father testified that that was what they had been told.

I, however, have now made an immense breakthrough in the Herbert mystery. According to Prescott City directories Herbert work at Whipple Barracks. This sounding like a military name to me, I inquired and found out that it was and still is a federal Veteran's hospital and that I could acquire his personnel records. I now have them and they are really revealing.

From his physical examinations were learn that he was born on September 23, 1904.

On June 30, 1924, he was 71 1/4 inches tall and weighed 152 pounds. His vision was 20/20. Ears 20/20. His lungs showed granular breathing over rt. lobe and middle lobes, probably result of pneumonia, March 1924. His systolic blood pressure is illegible. His pulse sitting is 60, standing 80, after exercise 84. There is the mention neg. after skin, bones, hernia, conjunctive, joints, venereal disease, digestive system, asthma, rheumatism, typhoid fever. He was vaccinated against smallpox in June 1914. His position is dispensary attendant. A note on the back says underweight.

On October 28, 1925, he was 70 inches tall and weighed 137 pounds in clothing. He did not wear glasses and his vision was 20/25. He could hear conversational voice at 20 feet. His ears, nose, throat were normal. There is a check next to heart, lungs, inguinal rings, varicose veins, flat foot, deformities, scars, unrinalysis. His position was assistant druggist. He was deemed able to perform the duties of his job. His fingerprint is given.

On December 31, 1926, he was 23 years old, assistant pharmacist. He wore glasses and had normal ears. His systolic blood pressure is not given. His pulse sitting is 60, standing 80, after exercise 84. There is the mention neg. after skin, bones, hernia, conjunctive, joints, venereal disezse, digestive system, asthma, rheumatism, typhoid fever. He was vaccinated against smallpox in June 1914. His position is dispensary attendant. A note on the back says underweight.

On July 10, 1927, he was 24 years old, 71 1/4 inches tall and weighed 142 pounds. There are checks after eyes, ears. His systolic blood pressure is not given. His pulse sitting is 72, standing 76, after exercise 84. There is the mention neg. after heart, state of valves and any murmurs, nose and throat, lungs, chest, skin, bones, hernia, conjunctive, joints, venereal diseases, digestive system, asthma, rheumatism, typhoid fever. He was vaccinated against smallpox in 1926. His position is dispensary attendant. A note on the back says underweight.

The file also tells how he abandoned his family on two occasions. First he was absent without leave from work in September 1926. So his services were discontinued "without prejudice". The file includes this letter from him to the Medical Officer in Charge of the U. S. Veteran's Hospital, Whipple, Arizona, dated September 29, 1926, Prescott, Arizona: "Sir:- In answer to the enclosed charge, my reason for being absent without leave during the period mentioned was because my wife and my mother, who are solely dependent on me for support were having trouble with each other and I became so discouraged that the best thing I thought I could do was to leave everything, however I informed a friend to notify you but he failed to do so. I am very sorry this has happened and shoul I be given another chance, I am sure that you will have no further trouble from me. Respectfully, Herbert B. Hill, Asst. Druggist.

So, his discontinuance was ultimately cancelled. The Medical Officer in Charge wrote this letter to the Director of the U.S. Veteran's Bureau in Washington, D.C.: Sir:- In compliance with General Order No. 265-0, theire is enclosed herewith copy of charges and answer to charges preferred against Herbert B. Hill, assistant druggist, who has been suspened from duty since September 17, 1926. Mr. Hill absented himself from duty from September 11-16, without permission. Investigations of the circumstances show that Hill's domestic relations became unbearable by reason the ill feeling that existed between his mother, who lives with him and is dependent upon him, and his wife. He foolishly concluded to end his troubles by deserting his family, by in a few days saw the rror of his actions and returned. He has served this hospital in the capacity of assistant druggist for over three years and except for this one instance has been very reliable. Due to the fact that he has more or less access to narcotics and liquors, a man of his integrity and reliability is difficult to replace. he has a good working knowledge of pharmacy and can replace the Druggist while he is on leave. He is a very valuable employee in every respect. Hill, when he was informed that the charges would be preferred agianst him assumed that he sould remain off duty until receipt of confirmation from Central Office and has therefore not been on duty since September 17, 1926 and has been carried on a non-pay status by this office. In consideration of his trhee years of faithful service and in view of the fact that his offense was an act of thoughtlessness, it is recommended that he be reinstated and allowed to resume duty on a pay status. As stated before he has been on a non-pay status since September 11, 1926, and it is hoped that Central Office will feel that this is sufficient punishment for his offense."

There is a letter to Personnel, Mr. G. D. Allee, Fort Whipple, Arizona, from Mrs. H. B. Hill at 616 N. Beaver St., Flagstaff, Arizona, dated March 27, 1928, a month before Tommy's birth. It reads: "Dear Mr. Allee, Am returning this letter to Mr. Hill as I have no idea where he is, haven't heard anything from him or of him. I opened the letter to see if it was anything of value, intending to return it if I though necessary, I though it necessary that you should know that he did not receive this letter. If you should hear from him in regard to pay or retirement fund, I'd be more than obliged if you would let me know his where-abouts and address, if it isn't against rules and regulations. Yours Truly, Mrs H. B. Hill

There is also a letter dated July 12, 1928 addressed to the Commandant Whipple Barracks. It reads: "Dear Sir: On May 17 of this year I recieved a check from Herbert Hill. I believe he is there at Barracks. He was introduced by Mr. Harry Boatwright a cook or chef there. The check was returned and I have written 8 times to them and they have not answere. I don't expect your office to be a collection agency but I shall send check to you. It is not large enough for me to prosecute but I do think they should be stopped. Very respectfully yours, from A. M. Polkey of Hi Way Garage, Box 65, Wickenburg, Arizona. Would appreciate any courtesy you wish to spare me."

There is this reply from G. D. Allee, Medical Officer in Charge, dated July 16, 1928: "Dear Sir: Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of July 12, 1928, encolsing a worthless check that was given you March 17, 1928 by Herbert B. Hill. Hill was employed here for several yers as an Assistant Pharmacist, but left without warning the hospital or his family about the time he gave you the check. His present address is unknown and I regret to inform you that, judging from his past actions, you will never get your money."

 The People vs. Herbert B. Hill

In October 2003, Felice and Claire acquired a file dating from the summer of 1930 on their grandfather Herbert from the Los Angeles County Records Center-Archives on North Hill St., Los Angeles near where Milford worked in the State building and where Felice now works.

On June 28th a complaint was filed against Herbert in the municipal court of the county of Los Angeles for 5 counts of felonious forgery. As witnesses there were two officers, four witnesses, three of them residing on W. Pico St., one on S. Vermont, and a representative of the Bank of America. On July 3rd Herbert appeared in Court with his counsel William Inns. He was held on 2000 dollars bail. Four of the counts were eventually dropped on the motion of his attorney.

Count 1 reads: "The said HERBERT B. HILL is accused by the District Attorney of and for the County of Los Angeles, State of California, by this information, of the crime of FORGERY, a felony committed as follows: That the said HERBERT B. HILL on or about the 11th day of June, 1930, at and in the County of Los Angles, State of California, with intent then and there to cheat and defraud Donald Rodgers, L. Ward and the Bank of America, Sixth and Main Branch, a corporation, did wilfully, unlawfully, fraudulently and feloniously make, forge and counterfeit a certain check and order in writing for the payment of money, and did then and there utter, publish and pass the same, knowing said check to be false, forged and counterfeited, as aforesaid, with intent then and there to cheat and defraud the said Donald Rodgers, L. Ward and the Bank of America, a corporation. Said check was and is in the words and figures as follows, to-wit: Head office, Los Angeles, Sixth and Main Branch, Bank of America of California, 601 South Main Street, Los Angeles, Cal. June 11, 1930 no. 386, Pay to the order of Leon Dale, Thirty dollars and no/1000 (Sd.) H. Boyd Laird, Endorsed: Leon Dale.

On July 24, 1930, before Hon. Marshall F. McComb, Judge and Deputy District Attorney David H. Clark and Herbert's counsel, Deputy Public Defender W. B. Neeley, the defendant Herbert B. Hill entered a plea of "Guilty as charged in Count 1 of the information" and orally applied for probation. The passing on the application for probation, the pronouncing of judgment and sentence as to Count 1 and disposition of other counts were set from August 8, 1930 at 10:00 A.M.

On August 8, 1930, before before Hon. Marshall F. McComb, Judge and Deputy District Attorney J. Robert O'Connor and Herbert's counsel, Deputy Public Defender E E Cuff, it was ordered that the proceedings as to Count 1 of the information be suspended and defendant granted probation for a period of ten years under the condition that the defendant should serve the first six months of the probationary period at the county road camp. The other counts were dismissed.

The proceedings read: "Upon the above date this matter came on regularly for hearing before Hon. Marshall F. McComb, Judge of the Superior Court, the defendant present in court with his counsel, E. E. Cuff, Esq., Deputy Public Defender of Los Angeles County, the people being represented by J. Robert O'Connor, Esq., Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County, and the following proceedings were had, to wit:

The Court: The People vs. Herbert Hill. Application is granted on the following terms and conditions: The period of probation is to be fixed at 10 years. How long have you been in jail?

The Defendant: Since the 28th of June, your Honor.

The Court: June. The first six months of that period to be spent in the County Jail, with the recommendation that you be sent to the road camp. And a further provision that your earnings on the road camp be turned over to the support of your family; a further provision that withing 15 days after your release from the County Jail you return to your family, and make adequate provsion for them during the period of probation you will obey all the laws of the United States, and all the laws of the State of California, and all laws in any state in which you happen to be; that means when you are released from the County Jail, if you don't provide for your family, you violate the law, you will be subject to have your probation revoked and sent to San Quentin, so you either have to work in jail, or work our, and provide for your family, one or the other. Do you understand that?

The Defendant: Yes, sir.

The Court: Further proceedings will be suspended at this time.

Mr O'Connor: In information No. 41258, Herbert Hill, the defendant having been sentenced upon Count one of the Information, I move that Counts two, three, four and five be dismissed in the interests of justice.

The Court: So ordered.

On January 7, 1931, Herbert was released after having served 5 months of a 6 months sentence as a condition of 10 years probation. It says "Must return in family in New Mexico."

Herbert's Life from 1931 until his Death on August 23, 1943

After decades of hunting I have finally found out what happened to Herbert. A parole official in Los Angeles told me that he thought that the family story that Herbert died trying to escape from prison was probably true but that I couldn't find any record of this because he was probably using an alias. He advised me to fool around with different possibilities. I didn't know where to begin. I gave it a try and then gave up. On October 21, 2011 I tried studying the death certificates from Pinal County by date and I found one for a prisoner named Homer Bradford Horan, born on September 23, 1900 whose mother was Sarah R. Hill. He died after a fall from the roof to the ground at Florence Prison on August 23, 1943. Immediately wrote to the Arizona State Archives, which sent me Homer Horan's file. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was Herbert Bradford Hill. It has the record of his various imprisonments in California, in Folsom and San Quentin among other places. It has mug shots, a complete set of fingerprints, a physical description and a letter to Sarah informing her of Herbert's death. It gives these additional aliases: Jim North, Herbert E. BAker, William S. Carter, William S. Lawrance, Thomas S. Wentworth, Thomas L. Wentworth, Thomas B. Horan, ?? Joins, J. B. Logen. It doesn't say what he did from the time he was paroled from Folsom on April 18, 1933 until the next recorded arrest on November 9, 1940. He was paroled from San Quentin on December 11, 1942 and arrested again in Phoenix, Arizona on April 17, 1941.

On August 30, 1943, the Warden of Florence Prison wrote this letter to Mrs. S. R. Hill, 515 Tritle St., Prescott Arizona: Dear Mrs. Hill: In reply to you letter of recednt date, I am indeed sorry to advise you that you son in trying to escape, fell about 60 feet and was so severely injured internally that he passed away. He was rushed immediately to the Pinal County Hospital for X-rays, but died about eight hours after the injury, in the hospital. Rev. S. B. Hannah, our prison chaplain performed the services at the funeral.

According to his death certificate Homer Badford Horan died at the Pinal County Hospital in Florence. He had been in the hospital for 1 hour and in the community for 3 1/2 months and in Arizona for the same amount of time. It says that his usual residence was Colorado, but that there was no record of the city or the county. He was male, white and single and born in Colorado on September 23, 1900. His usual occupation was that of a carpenter. There was no record of his father's name or birthplace. His mother's maiden name was Sarah R. Hill and there was no record of her birthplace. He died at the prison at 12:30 pm. of shock due to contused leg, arm and back caused by a fall from the roof to the ground. The accident did not occur while he was at work. The informant was Arizona State Prison in Florence Arizona. He was buried in the prison cemetery on August 24, 1943. The funeral director was Cole and Maud Mortuary and the emblamer Dalton H. Cole.

 

Lorena Divorces Herbert and Remarries

In June 1943 Lorena married Gail Berrif (born in Potter Co., Pennsylvania on May 15, 1903) in Alamogordo, New Mexico. She signed the marriage license as Lorena G. Hill, saying that neither of them was bound in marriage to another. They were married by "a minister of the Gospel" Ed. Breton, Methodist minister. The record is at the Otero County Counthouse in Alamogordo. Georgia Belle told me that she and Lorena filed a deposition at the Otero County Courthouse explaining what happened.

I inquired to the Otero County Courthouse in Alamogordo in order to find out how Lorena was able to marry again. The helpful Deputy Clerk researched the case and sent me about seven pages of a complaint filed by Lorena against Herbert in the Spring of 1943. The Complaint reads: "The above named plaintiff complaining of the above named defendant, and for her cause of action charges:

That she is an actual bona fide resident of the County of Otero State of New Mexico and has been for many years last past. That residence of the defendant is unknown to plaintiff his last Post Office address having been Prescott, Arizona. That she and the defendant were married the 21st day of September, 1923, and lived together as husband and wife un-til about the 17th day of March, 1928. That the defendant without any just cause therefor neglected and failed to support her and her two children according to his means, station in life and ability, has been so disposed, and that on the said account they separated and have ever since lived separate and apart from other with no intent of ever resuming their matrimonial relations. That since the date of the said separation she has earned her own support and that for her two sons, both of whom have now grown up and can choose for themselves as to whom they will live with. That no property was accumulated as a result of the said marriage. WHEREFORE, Prays that the bonds of matrimony existing between her and the defendant be by this Court dissolved and both parties restored to all the rights of un-married persons and for all and moral (? hard to read) relief.

There is another paper where Lorena swears on oath that she knows the contents of the complaint to be true of her own knowledge.

Then there is a decree filed the 23rd of June 1943 (the day of her marriage to Gail Berrif) saying that since Herbert was served with process in the manner provided by law and has failed to answer or appear, from the evidence submitted by plaintiff the Court finds the plaintiff an actual bona fide resident of the County of Otero State of New Mexico and has been for many years last past. That residence of the defendant is unknown to plaintiff his last Post Office address having been Prescott, Arizona. That the said parties were married on the 21st day of September, 1923, and lived together as husband and wife until about the 17th day of March, 1928. That the defendant without any just cause therefor neglected and failed to support and her two children according to his means, station in life and ability, has been so disposed, and that they separated on the said account and have ever since lived separate and apart from each other and plaintiff has earned her own support and that for her two sons, both of whom have now grown up and can choose for themselves as to whom they will live with. That no property was accumulated as a result of the said marriage. WHEREFORE, It is ordered and Decreed that the bonds of matrimony existing between the said plaintiff and the defendant, be and the same hereby dissolved and both parties restored to all the rights of un-married persons.

Lorena was working the switchboard for the phone company the morning that the first atomic bomb was dropped on New Mexico near Alamogordo.

At some point Lorena got religion because we only knew her as a pious Southern Baptist.

Lorena then married Cliff Miller (born in Ellendale, North Dakota on November 16, 1893) at the Alamogordo Courthouse on March 17, 1950. They eventually retired and went to live in Truth or Consequences, NM. He died there on February 24, 1972 and was buried in Hot Springs Cemetery on February 26.

Lorena then married Lawrence Tidwell in 1977. A newspaper clipping dated June 8, 1977 reads: RECITE VOWS -- Friday, May 27th, Mrs. Lorena Miller of T-or C became the Bride of Mr. Lawrence Tidwell of Marble Falls, Texas in a single ring ceremony at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church with Minister Reed Holder performing the ceremony. Matron of Honor and Best Man were Mr. & Mrs. Sam Bass. The bride wore a long pink gown and a white Carnation corsage. Also a white pearl necklace and silver beaded handbag. The groom wore a light blue suit and white carnation on his lapel. The Matron of Honor wore a long gold dress and daisy corsage. The Best Man wore a light tan suit and daisy on the lapel. Organ music was furnished by Della Weaver. Brother of the bride is Lester Nichols. Henrietta Nichols and John Nichols, uncle and aunt of the bride were guests attending from Post, Texas. Sister of the bride, Mrs. Georgia Johnson attended from Albuquerque. Other guests were Mrs. Crystal Robinson, Mrs. Mathney, Mrs. Emmett Henderson, Mrs. Hope Masingale and granddaughers and Mr. and Mrs. Same Bass all of T-or C. A dinner following the wedding was held at the Elephant Butte Inn. The couple are at home at 810 Gold, T-or C.

Lorena died on July 10, 1982 in Truth or Consequences, Sierra Co. NM. Lawrence died in Texas three months later.

Milford Lee Hill and Adelina Ortiz de Hill

Double cousin Dale Nichols remembered Milford and Tommy as boys: "I met the boys when they lived in Alamogordo, New Mexico and we lived in Mountainair New Mexico, about year of 1940. I would have been 12 years old and your dad would have 14 years old and Tommy would have been 11 years old. We went to the swimming hole (as I remember it was like a earth pond in a park which had a small zoo. We moved back to Washington State about 1942. Aunt Retta and your dad came and stayed with us in Renton, Washington. Your Dad worked in the defense plant as a Security Officer. After a few months they returned to New Mexico."

In an essay on his father that Marty Hill wrote for "The Dad Book" compiled by Michael Hill, Marty wrote: (warning Marty seems to be writing from memory and some of the facts are a little off). "...My father's name was Milford Lee Hill. The name Milford was handed down through his mother's side of the family. His mother's father was Milford Lee Nichols, and his great grandfather was Milford Riley Nichols husband of Isabel Lee Sowell. She was the daughter of Asa Jarmon Lee Sowell who wit Solomon G. Nichols (father of M. R.) and Milford Day helped to settle Texas in the 1830's. My father was born in November 1925 in Prescott, Arizona to Herbert Bradford Hill and Lorena Geneva Nichols Hill. According to an old Prescott city directory, Herbert was rooming next door to the house where Lorena lived with her family. Herbert is listed as being a pharmacist. Truth was he worked at a soda fountain at the town drugstore. Herbert's mother, Sarah Rebecca Wilson Hill was a widow who lived across town with her son Robert, a mechanic. Herbert's father had passed away only few years before that. He was a miner, and after he died Sarah had taken her children to one mine and then another before settling in Prescott. One of her children went off to die in World War I. Herbert was a rascal. Estalen Cross, an in-law who knew the Hill family, claimed "Herbert used to say his middle initial was 'De' for the devil." But what was Lorena's personality at the time? Years later she took extreme care to allow us to see only the moralistic Baptist in her. Was it because of mistakes she felt she made? Was she an example of a woman with fortitude but occasional weakness? Was she a flapper? She married Herbert when she was six month's pregnant with Milford. A little over three years later, in the spring of '29, she had a second child named Tommy. Near when Tommy was born, Herbert went out to buy a pack of chewing gum. He robbed a filling station in the process. Over the next few years he would be in and out of jail. What happened to him eventually Lorena would never tell. Story says he was shot escaping prison but we have never found when and where. Lorena moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico and got a job with the telephone company as a switchboard operator. In the early thirties she married a second time, to a Gail Berrie. Gail drank, and my father never got along well with his stepdad. The marriage broke up. My father told about his job as a teen keeping the grounds and running the shop at the Cloudcroft Country Club Golf Course, "The Highest Golf Course in the World", as it proclaimed itself to be. He read books on golf and advised golfers on their swings without ever swinging a club. From those early days my father kept an advertisement from a magazine. It announced that the secrets of the Indian Mystics were not (at last) available to those who had the discipline to learn and a dollar to send for the hardback book. While children on the East coast read stories of the rought west, my father read stories of the mystical East. Learn to Control You Mind, See Other Worlds, Ancient Mystics of Tibet Have the Secrets of Long Life and Peace of Mind..."

Further insight into Milford's childhood and youth is found in an essay reproduced on the page about Milford Lee Nichols and May Retta Lester

Milford Lee Hill married Adelina Ortiz on June 24, 1950 at Cristo Rey in Santa Fe. He eventually went to work for the California State Department of Rehabilitation and rose throught the ranks. At the time of his death he was a Regional Adminstrator. California had three regional administrators, Northern California, Southern California and Los Angeles. He was RA for Southern California and then for Los Angeles. He died on August 27, 1977 in Los Angeles, CA. He, Adelina, Felice and Claire Hill figure in the Portrait of the Ortiz Family in 1955.

The names of their children: Claire Retta Marie; Felice Veronica Ann; Michael Vincent Laurent; Christopher; Martin David; Eugene Emerson; and Paul Milford

 

Claire, Gene, Michael, Felice and her son Cameron in September 1999 (from left to right)

On March 15, 1983, Felice remembered her father for Paul's Ortiz Hill Family Newsletter:

My impressions of my Father, Milford Lee Hill, were formed during my early childhood and then in my early adulthood. I would characterize my Dad in the following terms: He was a handsome man with a strong jaw and a prominent nose. Dad was one of the most scrupulously honest people I've met in my lifetime, an image to live up to. I count myself lucky to have known him, much less have him as my Father. When Claire and I were young girls, Dad would come home with his huge brief case (that I still have in the loft of our garage) and we would take turns carrying it to the house. He used to bring us little treats or presents when he came back from trips. I always felt his support, though it was quiet and reserved. He was there when you needed him. he was understanding of all the growing pains and stupid mistakes I made growing up under his caretaking. He was patient and kind. I only saw him angry a couple of times in my whole life. (One of them was when Claire drove our new car, a Toyota, into a hole in San Timeteo Canyon in the dead of night). He was extremely proud of his children. For each one of us he held a secret (and sometimes not so secret) belief that we are great. He thought Claire was the intellect of the century. I was the "femme fatale" (he called me "Pretty Leecie"), Michael was the new messiah, Marty, the most congenial and social, Gene the greatest at whatever he chose to do, from photogrpaphy to music, and Paul a light just waiting to be turned on to something. He was very conscientious and hardworking in his job and was admired by his colleagues. His records reflected the opinions of his supervisors and co-workers that testify to his capabilities in human dynamics and administration. He was frugal and satisfied with the least necessary materially. (I can remember as a young child peeking through the keyholde of my parent's bedroom door to see what he was doing in there alone so much. (He was reading, meditating or doing yoga). Of course his passions, reading, chess, word games such as scrabble, and yoga are solitary types of activities. His reading material focused on Eastern philosophy, psychology, science fiction and fantasy (he like "good" trashy novels too). In his later years he began bicycle riding a bit (althought he was not the outdoors type at all) and turned into music and art much more. Socially, I think he felt a bit uncomfortable, although he coped well enough, he wasn't well versed in the social graces. He was very fond of steak. His vices were cigarettes and beer. One of the overwhelming feelings that I felt at his passing was that he felt ready to leave this life and go on to bigger and better things. He has such a fine spirit and intellect that I knew for certain that after he was gone, he was just not here on this planet, that instead he was off to do something else somewhere else. And that we will meet again someday. I loved and respected him very much."