Carrie Belle Hill Hobbs
1873 - 1955
Carrie Hill, a singer and pianist, was a pioneer music teacher in the Seventh-day Adventist church, one of the first to have a music degree. Although she started music study at Battle Creek College in Michigan, she completed a bachelor of music in 1892 at a music conservatory in Ottawa, Kansas, now part of Ottawa University. She continued music study for two more years at Union College, which had just opened its doors a year earlier.
In 1894, Hill became music teacher at Walla Walla College, now University, in Washington state, when her family moved to the area. In her four years at WWC, she started its first choirs and organized a music program and course of study that led to Classical Music and Sacred Music diplomas.
While at WWC, she developed a friendship with Charles Darwin Hobbs, a tall business student with a commanding presence and an aptitude in Greek and Latin. When the friendship developed into courtship, the president of the college would not permit them to date more than once every three months during the school year, an arrangement that continued until his graduation.
Carrie's younger sister, LuLu, was also a singer and the two often sang duets on special occasions at the college. Lulu and the band director, George W. Miller, became friends and, faced with potentially the same kind of social restrictions imposed on her sister and Hobbs, she signed up for music lessons with Miller.
Following Charles' graduation in 1898, he and Carrie married and accepted positions at Keene Industrial Academy, now Southwestern Adventist University, in Keene Texas. In their two years there, she set up a music program similar to that at WWC. In the 1901 graduation, the year after she left, twelve students graduated from her program, four in Classical Music and ten in Sacred Music, with two graduating in both areas.
The Hobbs returned to the Northwest, living in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, so that Charles could work in the business office at nearby WWC. Carrie no longer taught at the college, but continued to sing solos and duets with her sister, who had married Miller and lived in the area. Both sisters also played in the college orchestra and the Walla Walla Symphony for many years, with Carrie playing string bass and LuLu playing horn.
Sources: Interview with Tola Hobbs-Gish, daughter of Carrie Hill Hobbs, 23 April 1990; Claude Thurston, 60 Years of Progress, The Anniversary History of Walla Walla College, 1952, 110, 111; Obituaries, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, 26 January 1956 and the North Pacific Union Gleaner, 9 January 1956; The Chronicle of Southwestern College, (centennial book for SWAU, 1993) reproduction of program (1 June 1901)" for Fourth Annual Commencement" at Keene Industrial Aademy, 28; Walla Symphony printed programs, 1930s-1950s.