A biographer referred to Hill as the “Father of Texas Geology.”
Everyone’s gift is important. Small contributions sustained over a period of time have tremendous impact. That fact inspired the creation of the Hill Society in 2007 to honor friends and alumni who have contributed a total of $10,000 or more over the years to the Jackson School. Approximately 100 inaugural members of the Hill Society were inducted. To see a list of members, click here.
The Hill Society is named after Robert T. Hill, the first professor and chair of the Department of Geology. He was known as the “Father of Texas Geology.”
Born in Nashville, Tennessee two years before the start of the Civil War, Robert T. Hill led a colorful life. He dropped out of school in the sixth grade and went to work for his brother at a newspaper in Comanche, Texas, a wild frontier town. He spent some time as a cowboy on the Dodge City Trail. In his spare time, he collected rocks and fossils and went on to receive a B.S. in geology from Cornell University in 1887. Through some 200 papers, books, and maps, he made significant contributions to the understanding of Texas geology.
In 1921, Hill was an expert witness for Texas in a boundary suit between Texas and Oklahoma. His testimony, along with those of other specialists, permanently won for Texas some 450,000 acres of river-valley lands and over 90 percent of the oil wells along the Red River. He received international attention as one of the first scientists to study the volcano Pelée on the island of Martinique during its catastrophic eruptive cycle of 1902, being the first to describe its classic “glowing cloud.” Hill was an original fellow of the Geological Society of America.
The last ten years of his life, he wrote about science and Texas history for the Dallas Morning News. Hill died in 1941.