Mount Morris Index, Mount Morris, IL

May 4, 1911 p. 1, col 1




In the Federal Service -- Graduate of Rock River Seminary - Brother to Congressman Hitt.

John Hitt, brother to Mrs. Maria Newcomer and the late Congressman R. R. Hitt, is dead.

In the middle of the afternoon, Saturday, a message was received at Mount Morris conveying the news of the serious illness of Mr. Hitt at his residence, 43 Oak Street, Chicago. Late in the evening another message came confirming the first and also saying there were no hopes for his recovery. A later message, received on Sunday morning, told of his death.

The funeral was held at 3:30 at the residence of the deceased on Monday afternoon, Mrs. Maria Newcomer, his sister, and Joseph L. Rice of Mount Morris were in attendance. The body was brought to Mount Morris on the evening train, Monday, and taken to the residence of Mrs. Newcomer. On Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock a brief service was conducted at the house by Dr. J. H. More of Polo, a life long friend of the deceased, who spoke in a manner most fitting to the occasion. Burial took place at Oakwood cemetery on the lot where lie buried his father, mother, and brother, Hon. Robert R. Hitt.

Mr. Hitt is survived by his wife, Harriett, who was unable to attend the funeral by reason of an accident that occurred several weeks ago which confines her to a hospital and where she is making slow progress from the injury, a fractured hip. Of his immediate family there remains three sisters-- Mrs. Elizabeth Wagner of Tyndall, S. Dak., Mrs. Margaret Newcomer and Mrs. Charles Newcomer of Mount Morris. Henry and Morris Hitt of Tyndall, and Emery Hitt of Springfield, S. Dak., are brothers.

John Hitt, eldest son of Thomas M. and Emily Hitt, was born at Madison, Ind., October 18, 1832, and died April 29, 1911, aged 78 years, 6 months and 11 days. He came to Mount Morris with his parents in the fall of 1837, where he grew to manhood. He graduated from Rock River Seminary in 1849 and three years later from Asbury, now Depauw, University, Green Castle, Ind., were he graduated in law.

Shortly after leaving the university Mr. Hitt accepted a position in the legal department of the Illinois Central Railroad office in Chicago. In 1867 he accepted a position in the Federal Custom House of that city serving in various capacities. For at least 35 years he filled the position of special deputy collector, in which he continued until the second day before his death.

Mr. Hitt's long service in this line of work so familiarized him with the scope of his duties as to make his service very valuable and he was an authority on customs laws.

When the great Chicago fire occurred in 1871 and destroyed the records of the customs house it is said that whatever restoration occurred by reason of the memory of the employees, that Mr. Hitt contributed much the largest share, which was not only a tribute to his ability and mastery of his subject but of great financial importance to the government as well.

He was an unusually conspicuous example of a man wholly devoted to his business. Few indeed were his vacations and very short in duration. A day or two at the old home in Mount Morris or a week end at Waukesa was about the extent of his absence from official duty.

During Mr. Hitt's long service the administration of national affairs changed many times. Every change brought a new chief, and until these later days of civil service ideas the personnel of the working staff was largely an expression of the dominant political power. Mr. Hitt commanding prominence and his unquestioned usefulness seemed to render him immune to the movements of the political barometer, which can only be interpreted that his usefulness was conceded by all.

Mr. Hitt was pre-eminent in Higher Masonic circles. The funeral service at his late home in Chicago was conducted by the Apollo Commandery, Knights Templar, of which he was a member. The service was beautifully impressive and conducted with unusual dignity. Mr. Hitt was also a member of the Union League Club, and active member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, a Greek letter college society of national repute.

Not the least of Mr. Hitt's many excellent qualities was that splendid gift of social adaptability. Whatever his social contacts might be, lasting friendships were made and sympathetic relationships formed. In conversation he was a delightful companion and he could draw freely upon seemingly inexhaustibler stores of reminiscences. His command of language was ready and his satire effective though not offensive. Anyone who learned to know Mr. Hitt can say with truth that his passing is indeed a loss.

Contributed by Peg Allen Arnold

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