James Hildrith, one of the prominent citizens of the county, came here in the year 1877, and his intelligence, enterprise and energy, with many other estimable qualities, have secured for him a popularity not derived from any factitious circumstance, but a permanent and spontaneous tribute to his merit. He is a native of the Keystone State, born in Clearfield County, Pa., October 23, 1842, to William N. and Priscilla (Fernsides) Hildrith, natives of Yorkshire, England, where they were married. At an early date they came to the United States and settled in the City of Brotherly Love, where Mr. Hildrith followed the tanner’s trade for some time. Later they located in Clearfield County, Pa., where Mr. Hildrith opened up a tannery, but two years later they moved to Jefferson County, where they resided for many years. There Mrs. Hildrith died, and a few years later Mr. Hildrith returned to England and died there in 1882, when quite an aged man. Seven children were born to this marriage, four of whom are still living, as follows: Louisa, who is in Jefferson County, Penn.; Mary, a resident of Elk County, Penn.; Rachel, in Jefferson County of the same State, and our subject. All are married and have families. One son, Thomas, who was wounded in the battle of Fair Oaks, Va., and died at Annapolis, Md., from the effects of the wound, enlisted in Company B, One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and took part in all the battles from the first of the war until his death. He was single. Sarah, single, died in Pennsylvania in 1864. The family attended the Methodist Episcopal Church. The father never took much interest in public or political matters. The subject of this sketch was six years of age when his mother died, and his early life was passed in his native county, attending the early schools, in which he received a rather limited education. At the youthful age of eleven years he started out to fight life’s battles for himself, and for some time he worked on a farm and in a saw mill. Later he was in the oil fields of Pennsylvania, and in 1862 determined to enlist. He joined Company B, One Hundred and Thirty-Fifth Pennsylvania Infantry, and was under Col. James R. Porter in the First Brigade, Third Division and First Army Corps. He participated in the battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and numerous engagements. He was a brave and valiant soldier and fought well for the Old Flag. After leaving the army he located again in his native State, and as he had only served about ten months, would have enlisted again but was prevented by a sick sister, who required his care. His next venture was to engage in the lumber business.
When twenty-four years of age, or on the 4th of June, 1867, he married Miss Harriet Carrier, who was born November 1, 1847, and who was the daughter of George C. and Sabra A. (Scott) Carrier, natives of the Empire State. The father died in Pennsylvania, but the mother is still living and resides in Jefferson County, Penn. To Mr. and Mrs. Hildreth have been born eight children, as follows: Cora L., who died when over three years of age; Elva M., who was born June 7, 1870, the wife of F. D. Conrad, of Billings, and the mother of two children, Zella M. and Clarence; George B., born February 12, 1872, is farming; Mary M., born October 10, 1873, is attending school; Otie N., born November 22, 1875, is in school; Emma H., born August 3, 1880; Grace P., born November 27, 1882, and James C., born March 21, 1885. After his marriage Mr. Hildrith followed farming in Pennsylvania until 1877, when he came to Christian County, Mo., and located two miles southwest of Billings. There he bought a farm and has since added to it until he is now the owner of 160 acres of well-improved land, all the improvements being the work of his own hands. In 1891 he retired from the farm and moved to Billings, where he bought a fine home and he and family are enjoying life. His children are attending the high school in that place, and he is a respected and much esteemed citizen. In politics he is with the Democratic party, and is live to all matters of moment. He has taken a deep interest in educational as well as religious matters and has held some of the offices in the school district for years. He is connected with the Billings Hardware Company, has some stock in the Bank of Billings, and is vice-president of the same. Although starting out a poor boy, with limited means, he pushed his way to the front and is now one of the substantial and respected men of the county. Mr. and Mrs. Hildrith are members of the M. E. Church.