Hill, Grover B. (1889–1961)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

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Grover B. Hill, federal administrator, one of three sons of rancher J. M. Hill, was born on April 3, 1889, in Gainesville, Texas. A year later the family moved and established a ranch twelve miles west of Amarillo. Hill was among the graduates of the first senior class of Amarillo High School (1907). On July 12, 1910, he married Jennie B. Franklin, daughter of Felix Franklin, who had been the first sheriff of Crosby County before moving to Amarillo in 1894. Three sons and three daughters were born to the couple. After his marriage Hill was associated with Franklin in the livestock-commission firm of Franklin and Hill, which maintained offices in the Amarillo Hotel, long a favorite meetingplace for southwestern cattlemen.

Hill soon became involved in local politics and for twenty-one years served as chairman of the Potter County Democratic Executive Committee. He attended nearly every state Democratic convention and was a delegate at several national conventions, most notably the 1928 meeting in Houston, where Al Smith was nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate. For several years Hill was secretary of the Panhandle Livestock Association and was one of the founders of the Baby Beef Show, precursor to the Amarillo Exposition and Livestock Show, which he served for some time as president.

At the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration in the early 1930s, Hill assisted Agricultural Adjustment Administration administrator Chester C. Davis in the drafting of the national livestock program and served as regional director of the drought cattle-purchase program. In the latter position he directed the buying and slaughter of over eight million cattle, which the ranchers were considered unable to keep due to lack of adequate feed and pasture during the Dust Bowl era, and distributed the packed meat in the nation's relief program. Later Hill went to Washington, D.C., to assist in the national range program. He was named assistant secretary of agriculture under Henry A. Wallace in 1939 and four years later was elevated to undersecretary of that department. After the United States entered World War II, Hill was assistant war food administrator under J. Marvin Jones and also chaired the country's Victory Garden program. Throughout his Washington days, he won considerable popularity among political and news media circles as the "Cowboy on the Potomac" because of his casual, country manner; his office was a favorite stopping place for West Texas visitors to the capital.

In 1944 Hill left Washington to become executive vice president of the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank in Wichita, Kansas. A year later he was elected president of that agency; he retired in 1959. Afterward he moved back to Amarillo, where he attended San Jacinto Methodist Church. He died of heart disease at Northwest Texas Hospital on October 12, 1961, and was buried in Llano Cemetery.

Amarillo Daily News, October 13, 1961. Amarillo Sunday News-Globe, August 23, 1987. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Hill, Grover B.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hill-grover-b.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995