Huntington, WV Black History

Dan Hill

Entrepreneur

Dan Hill came to Huntington from White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in the late 1870s. He never left the city as much as a day afterward. He is recognized as Huntington’s first cab driver and as one of the first carriers of mail between the Huntington post office and the two railway depots.

For six years or more, Hill carried the mail as an employee of the railway companies. Soon after his arrival into the the small town he joined with fellow Black migrant, Rev. Nelson Barnett, father of the future physician Dr. C.C. Barnett, in a grocery business at 9th Street and 7th Avenue.

A conspicuous character about town over a long span of years, “Old Dan,” was known to hundreds of people. Later generations remembered him as the subject for the first state prohibition law test case as a drayman and as an actively engaged man.

He gathered notoriety in his later years when he essayed the role of a political orator addressing large crowds of negroes whom he assembled around his wagon in the street. In contrast to most negroes of the era, he was an ardent Democrat.

Following a brief illness, Hill died from a complication of diseases early on the morning of July 2, 1925, at the home of Cora Good. He was believed to be nearly 80 years old. His funeral was held at McClain’s Funeral Home, and he was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery.

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