John David Hillman was born to John Hillman and Isabella May on June 1, 1850 in Mosa township. He married Hannah McKay sometime before 1880. He eventually took over the family farm in Clachan.
Hannah’s family is deserving of some further research. Her mother’s maiden name was Shoemaker. The family’s take on this is that she came from Pennsylvania Dutch background; however, I have read a reference to her mother being a Mormon. He father was from Scotland.
All together they had 9 children Henry(1880), William Wallace(1883), Martha(1886), Olive(1889), Ida(1890), Jennie(1893), Mildred(1897), Hazel(1900), Bruce(1904).
As a young man he served in one of the Elgin militia units during the Fenian raids. That would probably have been in 1870 since the Elgin units were stationed in either Windsor or Sarnia in that year. The Fenian raids were an event that can be very frustrating for the family historian. Little documentation remains on the identity of members of the militia units that took part. The best we can hope for is for is for some of the pay lists of militia units to survive. Nevertheless, the Fenian raids represent the first direct military threat to the Canadas since the War of 1812. The turnout for the militia rosters was remarkable. It would be interesting to know how many of the young men were born in Canada. John David, and his brothers and sisters, were the first generation born in Canada in this family. I would suspect that his first motivation was not Empire but protecting his family, and what they had built in Aldborough. Historians like to place the birth of Canadian nationalism to the battle of Vimy Ridge. I am not so sure of that. I suspect that at least in my family a Canadian view begins with John David’s generation. Most of the early settlers in Aldborough Township were highland Scots who were difficult to sway towards any pro-empire adventures. I think that their attention was mostly inward, towards their land and their families.
John David like his parents was a member of the Plains Baptist Church.