John and Beadie

Marcia Smith
3 min readFeb 15, 2023
Photo by Tom White

On a rare snowy day in Dallas, a beloved red-haired stray dubbed Rusty abandoned his usual perch on the grand Samuell monument in Dallas’ historic Oakland Cemetery to keep company the lesser-known markers for John Allen Hill (1837–1910) and wife Beadie (1853–1899) in section one. And no, he wasn’t a pet left to grieve their loss.

It’s been more than a century since Beadie Durrett Hill succumbed to a heart condition at age 46. She died in Boston, Massachusetts, although she had lived all her life in north Texas. Perhaps she traveled east to seek medical care. Her husband lived to be 73 and, for most of those years, in Dallas. John never remarried; the couple had no children.

John was the second oldest of four sons born to the improbably named Green Hill, a Confederate veteran and Georgia-born planter who, in 1860, enslaved 21 human beings on his plantation in Choctaw County, Alabama. The census lists his worth at what today would be $1 million. John, then 22, served as his overseer.

Beadie, a name thought to be a diminutive of Beatrix, also grew up in a farming family, albeit a more modest one. Like her husband, she was her parents’ second child, born in McKinney, Texas. By 1867, John A. Durrett (1826–1910) of Virginia and his Kentucky-born wife had moved their family to Dallas County.

Durrett, a Confederate veteran who served in the 6th Texas Cavalry, supported his wife and 8 children as a farmer. In 1870, three of his daughters, including Beadie, 16, were enrolled in school. By the turn of the century, Durrett had been named postmaster of the Scyene post office, a job that added an extra $29.40 annually to his earnings.

At some point, John Hill and Beadie Durrett found one another. They settled down in the small town of Scyene, 10 miles east/southeast of downtown Dallas, just west of Mesquite. John worked as a druggist; Beadie tended the house, the 1880 census shows.

By 1883, John had segued into carpentry, a trade that grew into a career as a contractor/builder. Fittingly, his residential address shifted to 364 Wood Street in Dallas where, after Beadie’s death, John filled his home with lodgers. In 1900, the grieving widower had eight people living with him: That included his late wife’s brother William John Durrett, 48, a wood workman who had been unemployed the previous nine months, his wife Josie, and their three children, ranging in age from 18 to five. One of the children, a 13-year-old named Beadie, undoubtedly was named for her aunt.

In 1910, John Allen Hill was living in Fort Worth — perhaps temporarily to complete a contracting job — when he died of tuberculosis in early April. His body was transported back to Dallas and interred next to his wife.

Five years later, their niece, Beadie Durrett Smith, joined them in section one of Oakland Cemetery. Then a married woman of 28, Beadie died April 3, 1915, from a dilated heart, perhaps the same inherited condition that killed her namesake aunt 16 years earlier.

Photo by Tom White

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Marcia Smith

The former newspaper reporter and English teacher is the author of the book, The Woman in the Well and Other Ancestories.