29th Grand Master of Freemasons in North Carolina
By J. RAY. SHUTE, II, PM, Grand Historian
UPDATE: William G. Hill was elected an honorary member of WGH 218 on April 14th 2014.
William Geddy Hill was born in Raleigh, 11 Sept 1806, and died there 04 May 1877, being one of the most beloved Masons and citizens of the state during his life. In his honor William G. Hill Lodge, No. 218, of Raleigh, was chartered 07 Dec 1864, during his lifetime. William G. Hill was educated at the Raleigh Male Academy, University of North Carolina and the University of Pennsylvania, from the last of which he graduated in 1827 with the Doctor of Medicine degree, after an intermittent absence and training under private physicians. He was one of the outstanding medical practitioners of his day and enjoyed a widespread and deserved popularity and practice. He was one of the founders of the Medical Society of North Carolina and the Raleigh Academy of Medicine, serving both organizations as president. For more than a score of years he served Edenton Street Methodist Church as a steward and in all community activities he was deeply interested and ever active.
William G Hill Masonic Life
It is primarily of the Masonic life of William G. Hill that we are interested in this microscopic sketch. He was initiated, passed and raised in Hiram Lodge, No. 40, of Raleigh, in February, 1830, from which he demitted the following May to become a member of Columbus Lodge, No. 102, at Pittsborough, to which community he had removed and lived a few years. In March, 1842, he reaffiliated with Hiram Lodge and served as Master thereof in 1846-1847 and in 1856. Dr. Hill served Grand Lodge as Senior Grand Warden during the terms 1849-1851 and was elected Grand Master 03 Dec 1861, declining reelection at the expiration of his term. He was Representative of the Grand Lodges of Vermont and also Mississippi near the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. During his term as Grand Master the country was torn asunder with the strife of the War Between the States and many were his problems as the head of North Carolina Masonry. Elsewhere we have noted his attitude toward military lodges and here we will not discuss the matter. Under his guidance a Masonic relief association was formed in Raleigh to render aid to soldier Masons and many pages could be written of the charitable services rendered in that field.
Unfortunately, the early records of Raleigh Royal Arch Chapter, No. 10, are lost, so that it is impossible to state when William G. Hill was exalted; however, he served that body as High Priest for many years and in Grand Chapter he served as Deputy Grand High Priest from 1848-1851 and in 1868 was elected Grand High Priest, serving for one term.
Whether or not Brother Hill belonged to other Masonic bodies is not known, as no records have been found to indicate the fact; however, the Grand Chapter Proceedings of 1877 state that he was not only a Royal and Select Master, but served the Council at Raleigh as Illustrious Master.
Few men and Masons have enjoyed the love and esteem that Dr. William G. Hill did during, and after, his lifetime. A man, who as a young man imbibed freely of whiskey and then suddenly quit, lived to become a champion of sobriety and clean living. It is recorded that he rose in Grand Lodge on one occasion and stated:
“Why, Most Worshipful Grand Master, the Stewards, in their extravagant expenditures, furnish enough refreshments to keep themselves drunk the entire session, enough to make the whole Grand Lodge drunk on the night of the banquet, and then have enough left to keep Hiram Lodge drunk the balance of the year.”
Great Mason, lovable citizen, prosperous physician and God-fearing churchman, William G. Hill will live forever in the hearts of his friends and brethren.