One of Clinton’s Most Influential Residents
Walter Hillman (1829-1894) was born at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and graduated from Brown University. He arrived in Clinton to teach mathematics and astronomy, but he became an administrator very quickly.
Dr. Walter Hillman wore two hats by serving as president of both the Central Female Institute from 1855 to 1887 and of Mississippi College from 1867 to 1873.
CFI was later renamed Hillman college in honor of Dr. Hillman and his wife, Adelia, who served as a professor at the school.
Civil War Diplomacy
The Hillmans were from the North, and according to one story, were able to dissuade General Sherman from immolating Clinton’s two colleges during the Union occupation. Dr. Hillman saved many Clintonians from starvation by requesting rations from General Sherman.
After the war, Mississippi College was almost financially ruined, and the MC Board of Trustees asked Hillman to serve as the president of both CFI and MC. Hillman’s tireless efforts undoubtedly saved MC from closing, and soon both colleges were debt free. Dr. Hillman also served as pastor of the Baptist church during the Civil War.
While Dr. Hillman was popular among Clintonians, he never forgot his Northern roots and was supportive of another Northerner, Sarah Dickey, when she came to Clinton to open Mount Hermon Seminary for freed women. Next to Walter Leake, there is perhaps no one more indispensable to Clinton’s past or present than Walter Hillman.
The CFI was renamed Hillman College in 1891. Rev. Hillman died in 1894 at age 65, and Adelia died in 1902. They are buried at Clinton Cemetery, another stop on this historical tour.