(May 11, 1908 – May 4, 2002)
Alumnus E. Howard Hill founded Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa.
Edwin Howard Hill first saw the light of day on his family’s Minburn, Dallas County, Iowa, farm on May 11, 1908. A mixed operation of livestock and crops, the farm had originally come into the family in 1866 when Jesse Billings Hill (1821-1884) and Rhoda Ann Slocum Hill (1826-1910) moved from New York in pursuit of greater opportunities for their sons. Jesse’s move from a functioning farm elsewhere gave him the wherewithal to purchase land and equipment that would make him the wealthiest farmer in the community only four years after his arrival in Dallas County.
And, as he had planned, his sons turned to farming in their maturity. While son Edwin remained in Iowa, son Slocum determined to try his luck in Kansas. In 1900, Edwin claimed a bride: Jessie Cook (1880-1951) who would ultimately bear three children: Clarence (1902-1993), Edwin Howard (1908-2002) and Esther (1912-1991). Perhaps to differentiate him from father, Edwin the son was generally referred to as E. Howard Hill.
Both Clarence (class of 1924) and E. Howard (class of 1930) attained BS degrees from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University), as would many of their progeny. With Clarence slated to take over the family farm, and perhaps with the desire to sow a few wild oats, he and brother Howard decided to undertake a trip to Europe in 1930. Among other endeavors, they visited farms, livestock shows and agricultural colleges before returning home. Given the generally precarious financial times, the timing of the trip is all the more remarkable.
With Clarence on the primary family farm, Howard acquired a farm of his own and soon settled down with Lorraine Wells to raise a family of three daughters. Beyond farm work Hill became an active member of his community, serving as a member of the local school board for nearly two decades, as vice president of the Minburn Cooperative Elevator. Hill traveled to South America (1941) and more specifically to Chile (1962) to study regional agriculture and to make suggestions as to reform methods. In addition he served as a member of the board of trustees of the Iowa 4-H Club, the board of directors of the Iowa State University Foundation, the board of trustees of the Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, as a trustee of the Minburn Methodist Church. Moreover, Hill was a member of the National Livestock Meat Board, the board of directors of F.S. (Farm Service), a member of the Iowa Committee on Resettlement of Displaced Persons, and a list of committees that tires one just to read their names. In addition, he was a founder of Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa.
If such activities would slay lesser men, Hill found time to farm and to be associated with of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF). Having joined the organization as a young farmer, Hill rose through the ranks to become the IFBF’s vice president in 1943. He was elected president of the federation in 1947, serving in that post until 1963. He remains the longest-serving president of the IFBF. During his term of office, he served on the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors, testifying before numerous congressional committees on behalf of the family farm.
After his retirement from the duties of the IFBF, Hill retired to his Minburn farm, specializing in the production of hogs and cattle.
Hill passed away on May 4, 2002, in Dallas Center, survived by this wife, three daughters and a number of grandchildren, including future Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. He is buried in Minburn’s Elmwood Cemetery.
D. B. Groves and Kenneth Thatcher, The First Fifty: History of Farm Bureau in Iowa (1968); Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Website, http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/billnorthey.asp.