By Thomas Pirnie Sr.
It is to be regretted that some friend of the family did not narrate the life of father Hileman other than myself. For I feel discouraged in the attempt I have made to give others an account of his life's experiences. His life has been truly remarkable in the lapse of time it has covered, and the varied experiences he has had.
His ancestors fought for the establishment of our republic with fervent zeal, though they were born and reared in the land of royalty. So did he offer his life that the nation should live? It was not love of excitement, or occupation for livelihood, that took him into our south land to fight against our own flesh and blood. He was a man supposed to be past the prime of life when that sad struggle took place. And after his return from the terrible experience he had been through, especially in the prisons of war, after being allowed time to meet his friends and regain some of his former strength and vigor, he was eager to go to battle again for the nation's life - and again he offered his life upon the battlefield. Could anyone question that this was patriotism that deserved reward of those who were to reap the blessing of such service?
As a boy we find him enduring all the hardships of pioneering in the rocky hills and forest covered regions of his father. In all of his troubles here we find that life was full of enjoyment for him. Then we see him striving to get an education; here he works constantly, but also finds time to have fun, to enjoy life besides success in his studies.
When he arrives at mature years we find him intensely entwisted in the common things of life, though he does not succeed in getting wealthy, is a real part of the life that surrounds him. He appears to never have been lost in dreams of the future, nor reflections of the past. The present moment, and the existing things, all received his closest attention.
As a pioneer upon the prairies of Illinois he does his best to immediately adapt himself to the change of conditions. He liked his new home and at once prepares to like his new friends. Not forgetting his old friends way back in Pennsylvania, but to become but here, as he was there - really alive in the community.
Though not accomplishing as much financially, and in a business way, yet taking a real interest in everything that related to the development of the community. He had misfortune, but he was always ambitious, in a fair way, to get some of the world's goods. After failing in his quest of gold at Pikes Peak, we find him taking employment upon a riverboat for means of the support of his family, since he lost his season's opportunity on the farm. Then when the war came, he left his family and all, to give the very best that was in him for his country. His whole energies were in this as they had been in everything throughout his life. Here his optimism was a real service to those in the awful wretchedness of Anderson's prison life, especially. After the war, his health was so wrecked, that the best doctors told him that he had less than two years to live. Here his grit came to his rescue as also his faith that Dakota could do something for him to regain his health. Here we find him enjoying life again amongst new friends, though he was past sixty years of age.
At seventy years of age, I have seen him enjoying himself as few of the young men did upon the dance floor, upon the floor of debate or beside the baseball field. He was always intensely interested in the life about him, and he was not dreaming of the coming century, nor of the days of Julius Caesar. Those real things about him were the vital things in his life. And when he came to Iowa, he became interested in Iowa affairs, but not forgetting his liking of Dakota less. He became warmly attached to his new made friends in Waterloo. The city was the chief center of interest to him. There was none more loyal to it than he and his sentiment.
He has made his home in Cedar Rapids for several years, and today he knows more about the city, and its affairs, than some who have lived here twice as long, for he takes an interest in the things about him. He has had many good friends among his neighbors here. The children for many blocks about us know and love "Grandpa", for he always knows and loves the little children.
Father never succeeded in becoming rich in the sense of the word as it is usually used. But he is rich! He has plenty to keep him from worry. He has done more for his friends than perhaps some who have had a hundred times his worldly goods. His life has been full of friends who never forgot him. He enjoys the life the Lord gave him and rejoices in seeing others happy. May his life be spared for many years to come.
The nearer the lives of father and mother Hileman mingle with my own, the better I understood them, the deeper has been my love for them. I am very, very, sorry that our little darling son cannot have the memory of his Grandmother Hileman, who loved him so tenderly and patiently. It was a blessing to live with one who was so filled with loving kindness.
Finished this thirtieth day of November, nineteen fourteen. 921 South Twelfth Street, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Copyright ©1999 by Harold D. Hileman
Permission to reprint the "The Memoirs of Michael Hileman Jr." is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, PROVIDED: (1) the reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; and (2) a copy of this notice appears at the end of the reprint.