Clarksburg became a religious hub with the rise of religious revivals that swept the state of West Virginia prior to the First World War and lasted through the 1920s. In 1915, the Hamilton Tabernacle in Point Comfort hosted an important religious meeting and “soul saving” throughout the spring.This became a very prominent event in the city. Clarksburg businesses closed early to ensure that employees could attend the evening service on-time and special trains brought individuals into the city for the event.
A few months prior to the event, James D. and Hattie Hill left Williamson, West Virginia on a train that was headed to Clarksburg. Upon their arrival, Mrs. Hill had noticed a group of boys standing along the fence that ran from West Pike Street along the west side of North-Fourth Street and the east boundary of the Lowndes property. As a way to get involved in the community, Mrs. Hill became a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church, where she taught nine boys who often complained that there was nothing to do. After contacting the Sunday School Association about the issue, they told her about Kappa Sigma Pi, which is an organization that seeks to help the youth of Clarksburg. Mrs. Hill decided to organize alocal chapter. The members met at the church and the organization grew to include 45 boys.
Mrs. Hill arrived at the same time Clarksburg’s population reached its peak due to coal mining, the town’s strategic location along the railroad making it a distribution center for goods, and the discovery of oil and gas in the area. Mrs. Hill inspired many of the young boys of Kappa Sigma Pi to reach out to these newcomers. Many of them held bible classes, hired a drama coach so that they could put on plays and pageants in Anmoore, and various athletic activities. The organization drew over 150 workers from different churches in the region. Kappa Sigma Pi change locations several times before Mrs. Hill opened her home to members to serve as the organization’s headquarters. In the summer of 1921, Mrs. Hill rented property on Camden Sommer estate in Spring Hills, along the West Fork River south of Clarksburg, where the boys got to visit for the weekend to swim, play tennis and baseball, and have picnics, parties, pageants, stunts, and music.
Thanks to Mrs. Hill, Kappa Sigma Pi reached 500 to 700 young people a week. She made it possible for five of these boys to attend business school if they worked 20 hours a week in exchange for room and board. At age 92, she was still helping the organization and their leadership until she was hospitalized at United Hospital Center. Hattie Hill passed away on March 3, 1973. Many Kappa Sigma Pi alumni came to her funeral to honor her memory and pay their respects. Many of the young people stated that Mrs. Hill was the only mother figure they had growing up. Hattie Hill was an inspiration and played a significant role in the lives of many of the young people in Clarksburg.
Dorthy, Davis. “Hattie Hill (1880-1975),” in Missing Chapters: West Virginia Women in History, (West Virginia Women’s Commission, 1983), 65-75.