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Extra info for James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest (The Oklahoma Western Biographies , Vol 12)
For the first grades, the two boys hiked the several miles back and forth to Rockwood, sometimes seeing wolves en route. In 1849, when James was eleven, his father enrolled him at the Quaker academy in Rockwood; and here he attended classes, sporadically, for the next three years, sometimes boarding and doing chores for reimbursement. The master of the academy, William Weatherald, had a major impact on the boy, implanting in him a love of literature and the essentials of mathematics and other practical sciences and fostering more than a little of the gentle religiosity of Quakerism.
An itinerant trader from Saint Paul, Minnesota, took a liking to the lad after he had voluntarily watered the man's horse. " Jim carried the copy around, reading and rereading it, until it fell to pieces, and now he finally focused his dreams of adventure on a real decision. The next day, he cut the last of the wood he had been chopping at the time. Years later, someone left a sign at the spot"The last tree chopped by James J. Hill"which remained there long afterward. His brother, Alex, could look after his mother, and thus he could leave.
A daughter, Mary Elizabeth, arrived in 1835. A second son, again named James and the subject of this study, came in 1838; and the youngest, Alexander Samuel, was born in 1839. The growing family led a characteristic frontier existence. James Jr. later recalled that his father "was not very prosperous," and he remembered lying awake nights staring at the moonlight beaming through holes in the roof. Only a year apart in age, Jim and his brother, Alexander, were inseparable and spent much of their time hunting and fishing, which remained favorite hobbies of James's throughout his life.