History: The Life and Times of Hub Hill

By Dana Stubbs – Special to the Navarro County Gazette

H. M. Davenport once publicly said Hub Hill “positively influenced the lives of so many students for over 40 years at Corsicana High School!” How could he not….

Tom, Clara (Bush), T. J. and Herbert Lewis (Hub) Hill. – Courtesy Photo

On September 21, 1915, in rural Navarro county, Texas, near the little community of Navarro, Tom and Clara (Bush) Hill welcomed the second of two humans God gave them to influence and teach. When Tom was about ten years old, he had a brother born into the family named Herbert. Herbert died when Tom was about fourteen years old. Clara also had a brother with the name Herbert. It seemed natural for Tom and Clara to give their son their beloved brothers name. Herbert Lewis Hill went by the nickname of “Hub.”

During Hub’s formative years Tom Hill was hired as the superintendent of the County Farm. What kind of imprint would riding around with your dad at his work at the poor farm leave on a young child? Kindness, respect, charity, and compassion, just to name a few.

Herbert’s mother, Clara, was an active member of the Eastern Star in Corsicana and the First Baptist church. She also had a very large extended family with whom she was very close. They were always going and doing things. They had big family reunions and shared many holidays together. Hub would have been exposed to love, loyalty, Christianity and a strong sense of pride through his mother’s influence.  

When Hub was eight years old he wrote a letter to Santa in which he asked for a little bicycle, some fruits, nuts, and candies. But he also asked Santa not to forget his parents, his big brother and the orphans. With such loving, caring and responsible parents, how could he not have empathy for the orphans?

At a very early age Hub was introduced to the Junior Nevin Club. He was about eleven years old when he performed in his first known musical program held at the Third Avenue Presbyterian church. Misses Mabel Bush and Adele Sutton supervised the program. They are two very well known early music teachers of the city. Hub played “The Toy Balloon Man” on the piano. He continued with the Nevin Club for many years.

When Tom Hill left the County Farm he moved the family to Corsicana where he worked as a very popular automobile mechanic. Hub attended school in Corsicana where he always was involved with the music departments.

In school Hub was introduced to the man that would be his mentor, Joel Trimble. Trimble had the experience and fortitude to see the talent in Hub. Mr. Trimble was one of the best band leaders in the state of Texas. He worked closely with Hub through three years of school band.

On Tuesday, March 20, 1928, Mr. Trimble, the school board, and the Texas Band Teachers Association held a meeting to formally organize the Corsicana High School Band. This meeting was held at the high school with about fifty prospective band members. The next day they met to finalize the organization and make plans. There was so much interest in this project there were over 100 students at the second meeting. Six instruments were purchased by the school board which included basses and the most costly instruments. Sixty new members already owned their own instruments and fifteen agreed to purchase theirs.

At the end of organization there were about 100 pieces with plans to include the formation of advanced and beginner sections. Frequent practice sessions began a week later.

On Wednesday, March 28, 1928, the Corsicana High School band officially began its career with more than one hundred twenty boys and Joel Trimble in the lead. Seventy-eight members had their instruments and plans for the others to get theirs would soon be realized.

The instrumentation of this first Corsicana High School band was well balanced with the exception of the bass section where a few more heavy instruments were needed. Basses were performed by Ira Tarbutton and thirteen-year-old Hub Hill.

Through high school Hub was also a member of what they called the Tiger Teasers. They played for pay to finance their trips to follow the Tiger basketball team. They made just enough money to pay for a bus or jitney to and from the games, and it was reported they had a lot of fun.

Upon his early graduation, in 1932, from Corsicana High School his mentor encouraged him to entered Simmons University at Abilene, Texas. The sixteen-year-old served as a active member of their famous Cowboy Band. When he left Abilene in 1938, he went directly to the high school at Jefferson, Texas, where he took the band directorship.

In 1939, his old mentor, Joel Trimble, resigned from Corsicana High School which opened the opportunity for Hub to return to his home. The 12-months basis Hub was elected for in 1939 turned into a life career that spanned four decades which was only interrupted by the United States involvement of World War Two.

Hill’s first band at CHS (1940). – Courtesy photo

Hub was inducted into the United States army and went to Fort Sam Houston for military training in June, 1941. By the end of July he was stationed with the US Army at Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he studied in the intelligence department with the Thirty-sixth Infantry. Corporal Hill next spent time at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Ever the musician, he spent his time in Kentucky directing a 54-piece army band in which he thoroughly enjoyed. In October 1942 Technical Sergeant Hill was at Camp Polk, Louisiana. Before he was discharged Hub was sent to Camp Cook, California, in 1944.

Hill and one of his military bands. – Courtesy photo

In 1946 he resumed his position as director of the Corsicana High School band and went to work raising funds for new band uniforms.

During the next thirty-one years he “positively influenced the lives of so many students.” He led multiple generations of the Corsicana School bands to many state honors in the University Interscholastic League.

Thousands of students marched under his leadership at Corsicana High School. The camaraderie between his students is evident over the pages of the Herbert (Hub) Hill, Corsicana High Band Alumni Association Facebook website.

Hill’s last band (1977). – Courtesy photo

When asked how many alumni still had their Corsicana High School band jackets, the list was enormous. Some admitted theirs was a little tight in places, but others were pleased to post their jackets still fit.

He took his band everywhere he could, hundreds of parades around the state, thousands of football games and even to Governor Jester’s inauguration at Austin.

Herbert “Hub” Hill – Courtesy photo

“Great man,” “Wonderful man,” “I loved him,” “He was tough, but he just wanted us to be the best,” “Best band instructor ever,” are just a few of the quotes from his past students.

Marianne Anderson said, “All of us loved him.” Cindy Smith McCary said it best: “Having been taught by Hub Hill is a fact that I and so many others wear like a ‘Badge of Honor!’”

That is the reason so many feel great pride in the project of erecting a statue of the man downtown Corsicana, Texas.

If you would like to help with this special adventure to see Corsicana’s music man have a place on Beaton Street, donations can be made using only checks or money orders made out to:

Corsicana Parks and Recreation Dept.
Herbert (Hub) Hill Bronze Statue
200 N. 12th Street
Corsicana, Texas. 75110

Please note on the envelope and check note line:
ATTN: Herbert (Hub) Hill Statue

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Categories: History