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Biography: Arthur Hill

Arthur HillArthur Hill was born in St. Clair, Michigan on March 15, 1847, the son of James and Lucretia Hill who were both born in Michigan, too. Very few people lived in Michigan at this time and so it was unusual that a whole family was from Michigan.

He received his education in the public schools of Saginaw and went to the University of Michigan where he got a degree in Civil Engineering in 1865. After graduation, he worked for a few months in Minnesota in the railroad business. When he returned to Michigan, he studied law for a time at the University of Michigan.

For many years, he was a land-looker for his father who had lumbering interests in Michigan at this time. He learned well from these hard-working days. He would travel all over the timber lands, learning the lumber business. After seven years of this, he returned to Saginaw where he and his older brother formed a lumber company,

After successful lumbering and shipping businesses, he became an important Saginaw civic leader.
Hill Brothers.


After a time, Arthur formed his own company, Arthur Hill and Company. Soon the Michigan forests were gone, but Arthur had foreseen this and had already extended his holdings to Minnesota, Canada and the Pacific northwest.

In 1890, his firm organized the Saginaw Steel Steamship Company, which finally became the U.S. Steamship Company. The business was on the west coast of the United States.

Arthur was well known as a hard working, industrious man who also gave of his time for civic activities. As a Republican he was elected mayor of Saginaw three times. For five years he was President of the School Board. Even today, a Saginaw High School is named in his honor: Saginaw Arthur Hill.

In 1893, Arthur endowed four scholarships for worthy high graduates who wanted to go to college. He named the scholarships after his four best friends. In a letter to the city of Saginaw, he told of his desire to help students obtain an education.


"...I have the hope that some bright-faced young man, or sweet, clear-eyed young woman, will have found in this modest provision an inspiration and a purpose and will enter the college portals to their great and lasting gain."
In 1899, Arthur was appointed one of the State Board of Forestry Commissioners. Through him, the University of Michigan established a school of forestry and he donated the Saginaw Forestry Farm, 80 acres just west of Ann Arbor.


After a vacancy occurred in 1901, Arthur was named to the University Board of Regents by Governor Bliss. By the next election, the voters chose him to an eight year term in 1905.

Even with all of his business interests and his different elected offices, he was able to travel, seeing Europe and Asia. He was a very active man and well-liked by most people.

After he died on December 6, 1909, he still continued to give to the areas he admired most: University of Michigan $200,000 for an auditorium (still used: Hill Auditorium), $200,000 to the city of Saginaw for an Industrial School (The Arthur Hill Trade School of Saginaw), $50,000 to the Saginaw General Hospital and many other scholarships and gifts.

Arthur married Aroline Briggs and they had two children, a boy named Harold and a daughter named Calla. Unfortunately, both his wife and son died and he later married again, Louise Grout, who survived.

Even today, people can enjoy the gifts Arthur Hill gave to the city and state he loved.