Hills, Stephen, the architect of the State Capitol of Pennsylvania, was the fifth child of John and Sarah (Lewis) Hills, who were married in December, 1755, and had a family of seven sons and a daughter. Stephen, the fourth son, was born at Ashford, Kent county, England, August 10, 1771. According to the custom of the times, he was "bound out for seven years" and apprenticed to a local housewright, living in his "masterís" family until his twenty-first birthday. In 1794 he married Margaret Ashby, of Pluckley, a parish village about five miles from Ashford. He was the first of the five brothers who came to America, arriving at Boston in either 1796 or 1797. His brothers Richard and William joined him in 1801, and subsequent to his departure for this city, about 1802, his brothers George and Joseph, and their widowed mother, came to the Unites States and settled in the capitol of New England.
While a resident of Boston he was actively engaged in business and built several houses. The building erected for his own home in 1799, in what was then the outskirts of the town, still stands in what is now a very thickly settled part of Boston. The cityís geographical center has passed it, and is now nearly a mile beyond its location. At how early a date he became a resident of Harrisburg is not known to his New England relatives, but it is believed that he built many of the houses of that city which were erected in the earlier part of the present century. His plans for the capitol of Pennsylvania were adopted, and he was the builder as well as the architect of that edifice, the cornerstone of which was laid May 31, 1819.
While on a visit to England his wife, Margaret Hills, died at Harrisburg, on Sunday, August 4, 1822, in the 51st year of her age, leaving four children. Sarah, who married November 26, 1821, Samuel White, and subsequently removed to Indianapolis, where she was living in 1845, and three sons, John, Stephen, and Thomas. Before returning to America, Mr. Hills again married, and was for a short time once more a resident of Harrisburg. About 1825 he went to England for the last time and remained there about eleven years, and in the winter of 1836-7 returned to the United States. He is described by those who knew him at this time as a man of large frame, weighing about two hundred and fifty pounds. In the spring of 1837 he went to Jefferson city to build the capitol for the state of Missouri. The plans made for the Pennsylvania structure were accepted for this edifice, and so closely followed that the building was practically a duplicate of his earlier work. Immediately following the completion of the capitol, he commenced the erection of the university at Columbia, in that State, and finished his contract in the spring of 1843. He then retired from his profession and went to his farm in the western part of Illinois (about twelve miles from St. Louis). Here he died, October 17, 1844, leaving a widow and her children, two daughters and a son; and a son, daughter and six grandchildren as descendants of himself and Margaret Ashby, his first wife.