Colorado County Biographies

Do you have biographies you would like to share?


A history of Texas and Texans, by Frank W. Johnson, Chicago and New York: The American Historical Society, 1916

FERDINAND HILLJE. One of the solid Germans of Southwest Texas, a leader among his nationality which more than any other countrymen have developed many of the most prosperous counties of the state, Ferdinand Hillje has spent most of his business career at Hallettsville, is chiefly prominent as a cotton oil mill man, and is also a banker and a factor in public affairs.

Ferdinand Hillje was born at High Hill in Fayette county, Texas, December 12, 1862. He represents the second generation from the Fatherland. His father, John F. Hillje, who died in Colorado county, Texas, in 1893, at the age of seventy-six, was a native of Oldenburg, Germany, the son of a wagon maker, and the son learned the same trade. He came to the United States when a single man, landing at Galveston, and his first location was Frelsburg, where he invested his small capital in the construction of a cotton gin. Although this was to him a new business, he ran it with success for a few years, and then sold the plant to his brother, who had followed him to the United States after two years. John F. Hillje then located in the High Hill country of Fayette County, built there another gin, and also owned and operated a small farm. The ginning business was his principal work during his active career. During war times he was exempt from military service owing to the fact that he was a miller and was more useful in his capacity as grinding the grist for the "war widows" and others than as a soldier in the ranks. In politics he voted as a republican, but held no office. John F. Hillje was married in Colorado County to Miss Mina Fahrenthold, who was born in the town of Pritzwalk, Prussia, and came to America with her father who was a farmer. Mrs. Hillje died at La Grange, Texas. Aside from Ferdinand, her children were Fred, who died while in the oil mill business at Weimar, and left children; Mary, wife of Rudolph Klatt of LaGrange; Louis, an oil mill man in San Antonio; Anna, who married Herman Reissner of Weimar; Bertha, who married Gus Seydler of Wharton; William, who is in the oil mill business at Weimar.

The boyhood of Ferdinand Hillje was spent in the country, where he attended the public schools, learned the arts of ffarming and the mechanism and operation of a cotton gin, and remained at home in managing these different interests until twenty-seven years of age. At that time Mr. Hillje became interested in and connected with the oil mill business at Weimar and was superintendent of the Hillje Brothers mill one year. In 1893 he removed to Hallettsville, and here purchased the Lavaca Oil Company's plant, which had been built by the Baumgarten interests, and since that time has been secretary and manager of the mill. The Lavaca Cotton Oil Company has a capacity of forty-five tons daily and is the chief manufacturing industry of Hallettsville.

Mr. Hillje has steered as nearly clear of politics as possible for a business man to do, although at the present time he is an alderman and is city treasurer of Hallettsville. A business man and manufacturer who has increased the facilities of his home town, and also a capable banker, he succeeded Mr. Henry J. Strunk in the office of president of the First National Bank of Hallettsville. The Hillje home, which he erected some years ago, is one of the best in the city. Mr. Hillje belongs to several fraternities, but is not an ardent lodge man.

Ferdinand Hillje was married at High Hill, Texas, in 1890 to Miss Marguerite Seydler. Her father, Julius Seydler, was a native of Saxony and came to the United States before the war between the states, and followed ffarming. Julius Seydler married Miss Herder, and they became the parents of a large family. Mr. and Mrs. Hillje have no children. . -- pp. 1270 -1271.

-WILLIAM HILLJE. That section of Colorado County of which Weimar is the metropolis has for many years been influenced in its general development and commercial life by the presence and activities of the Hillje family, of which William Hillje is one of several representatives. Concerning the early ancestry, the first settlement and the fortunes of the different generations of this family in Texas, a more complete sketch will be found on other pages of this publication. William Hillje is one of the younger members of the family, and has gained prominence as an oil mill operator at Weimar, being manager of the large industry of Hillje Brothers, the chief industrial asset of the little city.

William Hillje was born in Fayette County December 24, 1872, and is a son of the late John F. Hillje. His early education came from country schools at his birthplace, and he also attended the LaGrange High. School. Practically all his active career has been identified with some phase of the cotton industry, either as a ginner or as an oil mill operator. When he left home he went to San Antonio and took a position in the machinery department of the San Antonio Oil Mill as a foreman, his previous experience at home having well qualified him for the responsibilities of that place. After about six months he returned to Weimar and became foreman of the machinery department of the oil mill there. At the death of his brother Fred, in 1896, he assumed the latter's duties as one of the owners and the manager of the mill.

The Weimar oil works of Hillje Brothers was erected in 1880 by that firm, then comprising Fred and Lewis Hillje, who were especially prominent as oil mill operators, Lewis Hillje is still active in the business in San Antonio. The capacity of the Weimar plant is forty tons daily, and its operations extend over a period embracing .about one-half of each year. During the active crushing season its working force embraces about thirty-five employes. Naturally the presence of such a business means much to community prosperity, and the Hillje Brothers Oil Mill is always mentioned as foremost among Weimar's resources. William Hillje is also a stockholder and director in the T. A. Hill State Bank of Weimar and a stockholder and director of the Brady Cotton Oil Company of Brady. For several years he served as an alderman of Weimar, and was a member of the municipal government when the water mains were extended and the new school building erected, in addition to the routine business of the little city. Politically his affiliations are as a democrat, but the only convention service he has performed was in 1914, when Ferguson was indorsed for governor and when the county convention gave its seal of approval to both state and national administration and instructed delegates in their attitude on the candidate for governor at the state convention.

Mr. Hillje was married in Lavaca County, Texas, in July, 1903, near Shiner to Miss Emma Busch. Her father was a German settler, a blacksmith, and the only two children in the family were Mrs. Hillje and her brother, Ed Busch, now of Shiner. Mr. and Mrs. Hillje have become the parents of three children, but the only one still living is Wilma, who was born in January, 1912. Mr. Hillje affiliates with the Sons of Hermann and is a Lutheran in religion. He and his family reside in a new home, erected in 1915, one of the modest but comfortable places of Weimar. Personally Mr. Hillje is an able and successful business man, and physically is typical of the robust and vigorous German family to which he belongs. -- pp. 1330 -1331

Return to Colorado County Biographies

Return to Colorado County Home Page