The business of dressmaking.

James J. Hill Family

Mary Hill (Mrs. James J.) and her daughters exhibit the wearing of custom clothing by some of the top Minnesota and/or New York dressmakers in this 1900 family photograph. She notes in her diary on January 6, 1900 "January 6, Saturday. Such a bright pleasant morning 20 above zero and not a sign of Snow. Mamie came down at noon to day and all the girls and I went to be photographed in a group. How embarrassing it is to be placed in a photo and be told to look pleasant. One feels foolish enough and often looks so."

Mary Hill used dressmaker, Mrs. George F. Hall, exclusively for custom clothing from 1893-1904. Mrs. Hall worked in St. Paul from 1892-1900 and then moved her business to Chicago until her death in 1906.Mary T. Hill, Mary Hill Hill, Clara Hill, Charlotte Hill, Ruth Hill, Rachel Hill, Gertrude Hill.

Mary Hill’s diaries record regular visits to dressmakers, especially preceding her daughters’ weddings.

Following is an excerpt from Mary Hill's diary in 1888 relating to Mamie's [Mary Francis] wedding and their visit to dressmaker, Mary Worley in St. Paul:

[1888] Aug 14, Tuesday

"I went to the City with the girls to see their dresses on at Mrs. Worleys remained in town all night attended to things in regard to the wedding."

Later entries note a visit to Chicago, dressmaker Mrs. George F. Hall, an unnamed New York dressmaker and news about Mrs. Hall's health:

1901 October 9, Wednesday

 Wedding gown worn by Charlotte Hill Slade.

"Charlottes Wedding Day. Not so cloudy this morning nor is it bright. We are up early as we all appreciate how soon twelve oclock will come. Mrs. Hall has come from Chicago so Charlotte's veil will be on correctly. Charlotte went to eight oclock Mass. When she was dressing I gave her pearls part of my necklace and the Saphire [sic] pin with brown diamonds. The Wedding passed off beautifully and promptly - Charlotte looking happy. The Archbishops remarks were admirable. Did not rain was not dark.

1902 March 11, Tuesday

"Chicago. As warm as late May and bright in the morning. We found Mrs. Hall all ready for us although her shop opened only yesterday. Spent all forenoon selecting materials the afternoon talking over designs and some fitting" [Mrs. Hall's new shop was at 2027 Michigan Avenue, Chicago.]

1904 March 23, Wednesday

"New York. Bright this morning. Papa and I spent portion of the forenoon at Tiffanys Clara is looking about dress making. She made some calls this afternoon. Letters from Rachel and Gertrude to day. Gertrude tells me Mrs. Hall is quite out of health." [She had tuberculosis and died Feb. 4, 1906.]

1913 January 20, Monday

 Wedding gown worn by Rachel Hill Boeckmann

"A most delightful day not at all cold. Mrs. Roguet came in the afternoon. Mme Boyd came down from Minneapolis with two of her women to fit on Rachels wedding dress and ect. [sic]. Mr. Walker of Arnold Constable sent out 8 pieces of fine lace to select from for wedding dress." Rachel Hill Boeckmann's wedding dress was made by Minneapolis dressmaker, Madame Rose Boyd.

Additional resources:

Mary T. Hill (diaries);

James J. Hill Historic Site (History/Hill Family)

For more about clothing choices of the James. J. Hill family, see The dress of the James J. Hill family, 1863-1916 by Carol Ann Colburn

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