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Dr. Shaler Granby Hillyer Is Dead

Per his gravestone in Forsyth Cemetery at Monroe County, Georgia, Rev. Shaler Granby Hillyer, D.D. was ordained into the Baptist ministry in 1835. He continued to preach until just weeks before his death on 19 February 1900. Obituary and life sketch follows.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Tuesday, 20 February 1900 - pg. 2 [via GenealogyBank]


Was for Sixty-Eight Years a Preacher of the Baptist Church -- Filled a High Place in Georgia in Religious Work.

ATLANTA, Feb. 19. -- The death of Rev. Shaler Granby Hillyer, which was not unexpected, occurred today at noon at the residence of his son-in-law, Dr. J. N. Jones, on South Pryor street. Sunday morning he was seized with an attack of paralysis, from which he never recovered. His advanced age, he being 91, made the attack particularly severe upon him. Up to the time time [sic] that he was stricken his mental faculties were as active as ever. Recently he has devoted a good deal of his time to writing special articles for the Christian Index. He had an article in that paper this week on Christianity, and had completed another article for the next number of the Index.

Dr. Hillyer was three times married. His first wife was Miss Thompson of Liberty county; his second, the daughter of J. L. Dagg, once president of Mercer college and the author of Dagg's Moral Science. His third wife was the daughter of Dr. Furman of the University of South Carolina, and the widow of Mr. Lawton of Macon.

He is survived by eight children, namely, Mrs. Dr. Jones of Atlanta and Shaler G. Hillyer of Colorado.

Another son by his first wife, Francis L. Hillyer, was killed at Manassas Gap during the late war, in which he served with distinction through the battles of Virginia and at Gettysburg. He was in the Third Georgia regiment.

The children of his second wife were Rev. John L. Hillyer, Mrs. M. C. Donald of Fort Valley; Junius F. Hillyer, Esq., of Rome, Mrs. Fannie Towers of Colorado, Miss Lula Hillyer, formerly a teacher in the Girls' High School of Atlanta, Mrs. Katie Robinson of Anniston, Ala., Mrs. Emily Owens of Cuthbert and Lewellyn Hillyer of Macon.

There were no children of his third wife.

Dr. Hillyer was an only brother of the late Hon. Junius Hillyer, father of Dr. Eben Hillyer of Rome, Hons. George and Henry Hillyer of Atlanta and Carlton Hillyer of Augusta.

His career as teacher began as a tutor in Franklin college, and ended as a member of the faculty of Forsyth Female college.

He was for many years professor of Belles Lettres, afterward of theology at the university.

He was a very learned man and thoroughly orthodox, at the same time one of the gentlest, meekest of men -- an effective pastor and teacher.

John F. Hillyer, Junius Hillyer and Shaler Granby Hillyer were three remarkable brothers. The former died in Texas after serving 66 years as a Baptist minister, at the age of 89; the second died at Decatur at the age of 79. He was a noted lawyer, was four years in congress, judge of the western circuit, and solicitor of the United States treasury.

The third, the subject of this sketch, died in his 91st year after having been 68 years a Baptist minister.

All three retained their faculties to the last.

Dr. Hillyer preached his first sermon in 1832, at Sunbury, on the Georgia coast. He preached his last sermon two Sundays ago in the Baptist church at Marietta.

He was born on the 20th June, 1809, on the plantation of his father, eighteen miles from Washington, in the good old county of Wilkes. The place was situated on the banks of the Broad river. His father was Shaler Hillyer, a planter and a lawyer, though he devoted little time to the practice because he lived so far from [the] Washington courthouse. His grandfather lived in Connecticut, and the "Granby" in the name of Dr. Hillyer was taken from the town of Granby in Connecticut.
Rev. Shaler Granby Hillyer, D.D.
b. June 20, 1809
d. Feby 19, 1900
Ordained into the Baptist ministry in 1835.
He continued to preach for sixty-five years.
Eloquent, profound, and faithful even to the last.
The sunrise of his life was like that on the morning hills,
steady, sure, forever increasing unto greater brightness,
and in warmer glow; the sunset of his life was like that on
the mountains at evening, full of quiet, rest and glory.
The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth
more and more unto the perfect day.

Elizabeth T. Dagg
Wife of Rev. Shaler Granby Hillyer, D.D.
b. March 6, 1819
d. Jan 31, 1870
Fond children blessed with her prayers, her counsels, and
her example, clung to her as to some minstering angel sent
to allure them to another world, but the angel suddenly
unfurled a hidden wing and passed to the skies.
"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our

Dorathea M. Furman
Wife of Rev. Shaler Granby Hillyer, D.D.
b. April 24, 1820
d. Dec 2, 1886
She possessed in a marked degree the sure gift of winning
hearts. Her secret was love. In every relation and
connection in life, her true womanly heart overflowed with
warm affection and tender sympathy.
"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He
will show them His convenant."

Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
Tuesday, 20 February 1900 - pg. 2 [via GenealogyBank]



Was Also Oldest Alumnus of University of Georgia -- Uncle of Mr. Carlton Hillyer of Augusta -- Interesting sketch of His Long and Useful Life.

Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 19. -- (Special.) -- Dr. Shaler Granby Hillyer died this morning at 11:30 o'clock at the residence of his son-in-law, Dr. J. N. Jones, 563 South Pryor street...

...Though for some years he has been physically unable to perform the duties of a regular charge, he still lifted his voice in doing good when asked to fill a vacant pulpit.

...Among the earliest recollections of Dr. Hillyer was the "old field" school which he attended when a little boy. In an interview with a Journal reporter last June he drew this picture of the school house:

"It was a genuine old field school," said he; "the school house was a one-room house and stood in an old field two miles from my father's home. The floor was dirt, the desks were plain boards nailed to the log walls, the seats were plain board benches. The teacher, a man named Jones, sat on the wooden bench at the end of the room. The pupils were grown young men and women, and there were boys and girls and some very small children.

"We were taught spelling," said he, "and got as far in this school as the first reader. We learned reading, too, out of a newspaper. I remember that one of the pupils got hold of a newspaper somewhere, and what a ripple it produced when it was introduced in the school for our edification."

"Do you remember hearing anything bout the war of 1812 or the battle of Waterloo?"

"I remember distinctly seeing, as a little boy, some of the soldiers as they were returning from the war of 1812. They passed by our house. I remember seeing them -- that is all. I know they were in uniform but I was too young even to recollect the color of their clothes.

The battle of Waterloo was fought in 1815. I remember to have heard, as a child, something about Bonaparte -- but cannot recall having heard about the great battle which closed his military career. I was too young, you see."

In 1820 Dr. Hillyer's father died. He died in his forty-fourth year. Shortly after his death the family removed to Athens, Ga. The object of the mother in removing to Athens was to have her three sons educated. Those sons were the object of this sketch, and Rev. John Hillyer, who for forty years was a Baptist minister in Texas, and Judge Junius Hillyer, the great lawyer, father of Judge George Hillyer and Hon. Henry Hillyer.

They were all graduates of Franklin college, now the University of Georgia.

Dr. Hillyer graduated in 1829.

Alexander H. Stephens was in the freshman class while Dr. Hillyer was a senior. Robert Toombs was also at Franklin college at this time.

Speaking of these famous Georgians Dr. Hillyer said:

"Robert Toombs was wonderfully smart when at college. I was in a different class and don't know whether he was a close student of his textbooks, but he was very conspicuous in the debating societies. He took great interest in the debates and was a great student of history. He gave promise of distinction. Aleck Stephens and I were great friends. He was a very spare made young man when in college. His first intention was to become a minister, but he abandoned that idea. He was also conspicuous as a debater at Athens, and became, as you know, a very great man afterward.

"One day," said Dr. Hillyer, "President Waddell sent for me. When I got to his room he was seated at a long table.

"Sit down," he said. I sat down.

"Read that letter," said he, handing me a letter. I read it.

"You see, you can get the place if you wish it."

"The letter was from Mr. Robert Gamble, who lived in Florida 23 miles from Tallahassee. He wanted President Waddell to recommend a young man for the position of teacher in his family. He lived so far from any school that he needed an instructor at his home.

"I accepted the position, with the understanding that I was to get $350 a year and my board. I went to Florida and spent a year as teacher in the family of Mr. Robert Gamble, who proved to be a most excellent gentleman with a very charming family."

"Returning to Athens Dr. Hillyer, after a short time, accepted the principal's place of the academy at Sunbury, on the Georgia coast at a salary of $800 a year. This sum was guaranteed.

It was here that he preached his first sermon, in 1832, but it was not until about 1838 that he was ordained and regularly entered the ministry.

When he returned to Athens he was made a tutor in Franklin college, and afterward became a regularly ordained minister in the Baptist church, his first charge being at Milledgeville. Since that time he has had charges all over the state of Georgia.

It is not generally known that Dr. Hillyer read law. He did so and was admitted to the bar, but did not enter upon the practice. He decided that he would devote his life to preaching and teaching.

"If there have ever been any bad effects upon me from the use of tobacco, I have not discovered it.

"But," said he, "how much better off I would have been if I had not used tobacco, of course, I don't know."

He had this to say of home life in the olden times:

"I remember," said he, "that we raised all our meat, our beef, our mutton, our pork, etc. We had our hides tanned and the shoes were made at home. We spun and wove our cotton and our clothes were made at home. Indeed, we made all that we ate and wore at home. Our farms, you see, were literally self-sustaining.

"What cotton we did not spin and weave for home use we sold, and that was at a profit. In the same way our corn, oats, peas, everything for the stock, was raised on the place.

"And our wheat, which was fine, was ground into flour at our mills, as the corn was ground into a meal."

A more delightful talk with a better, nobler man was never had. It would be necessary to write a little book in order to tell all the interesting and instructive things which this wonderful old gentleman had to say.

For two hours he talked charmingly, and showed no fatigue, and two things were very notable. He answered questions in the most modest way concerning what he was asked about, never forcing the conversation in a garrulous way, and there was not the slightest indication of being at all worried.
Rev. Hillyer is not the first preacher profiled in this space. You may also be interested in one or both of the following:
- Reason for the Ryman, The Only Sam Jones Is Dead
- P is for the Prominent Minister of Newnan Who Passed Away: J. H. Hall


Marian B. Wood said…
Wonderful tributes to this gentleman. I enjoy your grave photos too!

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