Who was George Hilton?

Below is a newspaper clipping I found in Ted Spaulding’s recent donation. It is from a March 10, 1922 Vermont Tribune newspaper. It’s of interest to me as George Hilton is a man I was aware of but knew nothing about. The eulogy was written by Henry Crocker. The eulogy is followed by Hilton’s obituary.

I would love to have known this man. His positive attitude is something I don’t often see today. It is copied as written including typos. In the photo with this article, George can be seen standing next to his friend Eugene Sheldon and his velocipede. This photo can be seen in the 2019 Chester Historical Society calendar available at local Chester businesses.

George Hilton and Eugene Sheldon at Whiting Library circa 1910. Photo provided.


GEORGE HILTON (An appreciation)

“The passing of George Hilton removes from among us a most interesting, and lovable character. He will be missed, not as one from among many but as one from a few. There are not many blind men in Chester, and though there were many, there would be none like George. He was unique. Who so cheerful, so mirthful, so musical, so social, so companionable, so interesting in many ways as he? What a pleasure it was to have him recognize your salutation as promptly as though he saw your face. What a pleasure it was to have him accept your offered arm and walk with you a while, knowing his location almost as unerringly as yourself! Who ever led him inadvertently past his doorway, if he wished to turn in? How appreciative he was of every little courtesy! What a sense of humor was his! We shall never forget some of the incidents he related of mishaps that befell him for lack of vision of which he saw only the comical side. Was there however, anything more pathetic than the picture we used to have, some years ago, of George and his cripple friend Mr. Sheldon, in cheerful companionship, along our village street?

  “A nature-lover, George was, sensitive to her voice and responsive to her touch. He woke with the birds, and often he wandered abroad when he and the birds were the only ones awake in town. His memory of scenes long since obscured helped his imagination of scenes about him. Whispering winds, and fluttering leaves, and all the sharper voices of nature appealed to him, and were interpreted as easy as the language of friends.

  “The love of music was one of his choice gifts. The mystery of mental music he could not understand, but it seemed as if endless records were making melody in his heart all the time. That sweet little whistle of his was no common instrument. That, and his violin were his comforters, but neither of them was ever intrusive. Who was ever disturbed by them?

  “George Hilton was a brave man. He was not accustomed to speak freely of his personal conflicts and victories, but he told me recently of the great despair that whelmed him when he first realized that he could never see again; how tempted he was to end that inevitable dependence on others, and his own sense of loss, by dropping into the lake close by; and of how he faced the great temptation, saw its cowardice, faced like a man the trial that was before him and at once and forever rose out of his agony, and walked as one who would not die but conquer. “Never again” said he, “shall I have that bitter experience.” He bore as a hero what he could not avoid. He trusted in God despite his trouble. He proved how compensations are often granted to one who suffers a great loss; how consolations often more than counterbalance tribulations. Some headstone will help to keep alive the memory of George Hilton among us; but some of us never need see it. On many of our hearts his name is written in lines that can never be effaced.” Henry Crocker


“George L. Hilton died suddenly at his home Saturday afternoon, March 4, after an illness of two months with heart trouble and complications. George Lowell Hilton was born in Chester April 14, 1856 the oldest of three children of the late George H. and Helen (Lowell) Hilton. His whole life was spent in town. For the past 15 years he had been blind and the cheerfulness with which he met this misfortune was a lesson in optimism to his many friends. He possessed a fine musical ability and his violin and organ were among his most cherished possessions.

  “For many years Mr. Hilton had been a communicant of St. Luke’s Episcopal church and was a faithful attendant all it’s services. In April 1884 he married Miss Grace Newcomb of Boston who survives him. He is also survived by his sister, Mrs. L.W. Flanders of Dover, N.H. and a brother D. Harry Hilton of Lowell Lake. Rev. J.S. Warren conducted the funeral service at St. Luke’s church Monday afternoon. Burial was in the Hilton family plot in Brookside Cemetery. Those from out of town to attend were his brother and sister and Mrs. Chas. Conklin of Brookline, Mass., a sister and niece of Mrs. Hilton.”


This week’s old saying my mother used. She referred to the old-fashion tin cheese graters as “knuckle softeners.”

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