Patton Joseph Hill, Sr.
Patton Joseph Hill was born on January 12, 1895, in Coffeyville, Kansas. His parents were Robert Henry and Bettie Elizabeth Hill. He was their fourth son. After Patton was born Mr. Hill moved the family to Indiana. Patton grew up in Evansville, Indiana. He graduated from Evansville High School in 1914 and went to Indiana University at Bloomington. While he was still in college Patton was called to fight in World War I. He spent a year in France fighting for freedom. When he returned to the United States he completed his degree at Indiana University. He graduated in 1920. On August 31, 1921, he married a young lady named Hilda Wharton. Together they had four children. Their names were Doris Eloise, Patton Joseph, Jr., Mildred Louise, and Charlotte LaVetta.
Mr. Hill decided to go back to school for more education. He went back to Indiana University at Bloomington and earned a Master’s degree. Now he could be a principal. He worked at many schools as principal and vice-principal through Kentucky and West Virginia.
In 1933 he moved to Trenton, New Jersey to be the principal of New Lincoln Junior High School. New Lincoln was a school only for African-American students because Trenton was segregated during this time. Not everyone was happy with all of the African-American students forced into one school. In 1943 two families (the Hedgepeth & Williams families) complained that it was not fair to make their children walk past a school, Junior 2 (now called Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School of the Arts) to get to their segregated school. They sued the Trenton Board of Education and won. Now all of the Trenton Public Schools had to be integrated. In 1946 the New Lincoln School began accepting White students and P.J. Hill became one of the first African-Americans to lead an integrated school. They changed the name of the school from New Lincoln School to Junior 5 to match the other junior high schools in Trenton. Today that school is called Luis Muñoz-Rivera Community School. His college was so proud of him that they gave him a special award called, “The Distinguished Alumni Award.” This meant that his name would go on a wall at the university and he would never be forgotten.
Mr. Hill treated his staff and students well. He even helped some students get into college and helped them to pay tuition with his own money. He retired from being the principal of Junior 5 in 1958. In 1968 he and his wife Hilda created a scholarship fund at Indiana University at Bloomington for students who work to improve race relations. In 1972 the Trenton Public Schools built a school in his honor. It is called Patton J. Hill Elementary School. Children of all races attend the school. Mr. Hill passed away in Wayne, Michigan in 1982. He and his wife are buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey.