Henry Walter Hill (Walter H. Hill) was a member of one of the most distinguished and prolific Catholic families in America. He was the 14th of 17 children, born to Clement and Mary Hamilton Hill on 21 January 1822, near Lebanon, Kentucky. He enrolled in St. Mary's Jesuit College in 1838. He was in charge of the college sawmill and won local repute for his skill in managing the oxen that drew the great logs down the mountainside to the mill. He began the regular classical course in 1839 and received his A.B. degree in 1843. During graduate studies, he taught at the college until earning an A.M. degree in 1846. He also composed many plays which were performed by students. After the productions, however, he destroyed the compositions.
Mr. Hill joined the Medical Department of Saint Louis University in the fall of 1846, where he met Louis Charles Boisliniere, who would later become his pupil in English. In return, Mr. Boisliniere gave Mr. Hill instructions in music. It was in this same year that Dr. Moses Linton, who encouraged Mr. Hill to come to St. Louis, convinced him that his life would be better spent in the service of God. So, on the advice of his mentor, he entered the Society of Jesus on 3 February 1847, being admitted to the Jesuit Novitiate in Florissant, Missouri. After a year and a half spent at the novitiate, Mr. Hill was sent to the Jesuit College in Bardstown, Kentucky, where he was prefect of studies and taught various branches, especially higher mathematics, until the summer of 1855. During that period, he travelled throughout the South. On a trip to St. Charles College, in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, he contracted yellow fever, along with nine other Jesuits. Five of the Jesuits died.
In the fall of 1855, Mr. Hill took up residence at Saint Louis University. After completing his philosophical studies in 1857, he began a four year program in theology, spending his fourth year in Boston, Massachusetts. Following his completion of theological courses, he returned to St. Louis and was ordained to the priesthood on 24 August 1861. In the fall of 1863, Fr. Hill began his year of Tertianship at Frederick, Maryland.
He was President of St. Xavier's College, in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1865 to 1869. From 1869 to 1871, Fr. Hill served as Secretary to the Father Provincial of the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus. At Saint Louis University, he was Professor of Philosophy from 1864 to 1865, and from 1871 to 1884. Fr. Hill contributed a valuable volume to the history of the University in 1879, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, entitled, Historical Sketch of the Saint Louis University.
Under his superior's direction, Fr. Hill was forced to give up teaching in 1884, at which time, he devoted himself to the priestly ministry at the Sacred Heart Parish in Chicago. Then, an accident impaired his eyesight, preventing him from active parochial work. He left Chicago in 1896, returning to Saint Louis. He achieved distinction as a philosophical thinker and writer. In the latter years of his life, Fr. Hill continued to serve as an active member of the University community. Father Henry Walter Hill died on 18 May 1907, at the age of 85.