Lemon G. Hine.
We continue our stay in the nation's capitol with the following write up on Lemon Galpin Hine, an Ohio native who found political and business distinction in Washington, D.C. following his resettlement in the early 1860s. Although largely forgotten today, the name of Lemon Galpin Hine was a prominent one in the capitol during the late 19th century, as he served on both the city common council and board of aldermen. In 1889 Hine reached his highest degree of political prominence when he was appointed as a District Commissioner of Washington, D.C., a body that comprised three members who governed the district following the dissolve of the territorial government in 1874.
Born in Berlin Heights, Ohio on April 14, 1832, Lemon Galpin Hine was the son of Sheldon and Mary (Osborn) Hine. He would graduate from Oberlin College and later began the study of law in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he first commenced his practice. Sources relate that Hine spent the latter part of the 1850s in both Iowa and DeKalb County, Indiana, even building a farmhouse in the latter county. Lemon Hine married in Ohio in May 1860 to Mary Tillinghast (1838-1923). The couple were wed for over fifty years and their union would see the births of five children: Charles L. (1861-1911), Mary Christmas (1867-1955, Oliver Cromwell (1870-1936), Blanche (1874-1964) and Mollie.
Following his marriage Hine and his wife moved to Coldwater, Michigan, where in August 1861 he signed on for service in the "Northwestern Rifle Regiment", later to be called the 44th Illinois Infantry. Hine's Civil War service would see him attain the rank of Lieutenant in that unit's Co. B and he saw action at the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwestern Arkansas. He would resign from service in April 1862, due to "the loss of his voice", a problem that would continue to plague him for the remainder of his life.
A short period after leaving the service Hine removed to Washington D.C., where he would work on "Army pension cases". After further law studies Hine partnered with William Fitch and John Fox to form a law firm, which was short lived. Hine would make his first foray into District political life in 1868, being elected to the Washington, D.C. Common Council. Following his one year tenure in that body he was elected to the city Board of Aldermen, serving from 1870-71.
Lemon G. Hine as he appeared early in his life.
Through the 1870s and 80s Lemon Hine continued to practice law and for two years served as the president of the Washington, D.C. Bar Association. He retired from practice in 1887, as he continued to be plagued by problems relating to his throat. Despite his health concerns, politics again beckoned to Hine in 1889, when he accepted President Benjamin Harrison's appointment to the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia. This three man board came into being in 1874, following the dissolve of the territorial government of the District of Columbia. This earlier form of government had been headed by a Governor, and beginning in 1878, a three man commission (whose members were appointed by the President) would govern the district. These men (one Republican, one Democrat and one civil engineer with no political affiliation) would then choose one of their own as board president.
Appointed to the board along with Hine was John Watkinson Douglass (named as President), and these two men would serve alongside engineer Charles Walker Raymond from 1889-90. Many notable Washingtonians lauded Hine's appointment, describing him as one of the "grandest men in this city" and "a courteous gentleman and an honest man". The Washington Evening Star interviewed Hine on his new post, during which he appeared primed and ready to take on his duties, stating
"What are my plans? Well, it is a little to early to go into particulars, but I can say that I shall do my utmost to look after the interests of the District without fear or favor. I look upon the office of District Commissioner as one of detail, and believe that its duties can be performed just as successfully as those of any other business. But to do so strict attention will have to be paid to business methods. I shall do my best to conduct the office on that plan."
Portrait from the Washington Evening Star, May 16, 1889.
Hine's tenure as a Commissioner proved to be short, as he resigned on September 1890. Prior to his resignation he had become affiliated with Ottmar Mergenthaler, the inventor of the Linotype machine. The two developed a close friendship, and Hine would become financially involved in the development of this new mode of printing, which gained extensive use by the Washington Star newspaper. Hine's interest in this venture saw him become president of the Merganthaler Linotype Machine Company, holding that post until his resignation in December 1891.
Now retired from business and law, Hine continued to reside in Washington until health concerns compelled him to relocate to Battle Creek, Michigan in November 1913. Hine later contracted pneumonia while at a sanitarium there and died on January 19, 1914. He was survived by his wife Mary, and following his death was taken back to Washington to be interred at the Rock Creek Cemetery. Mary Tillinghast Hine was also interred here following her death in 1923. On May 11, 2017 I was able to photograph the Hine family plot at Rock Creek, and some photos from that excursion conclude his profile here.
Lemon G. Hine (with frizzy hair), a portrait that appeared in his 1914 Evening Star obituary
From the Washington Times, January 20, 1914.