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Nelson Hill Hotchkiss

CPT in 23rd Headquarters Co


Born 1917 in VA, Died 1997

Other residence(s): Richmond, VA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: French & Spanish teacher
College education before the war: VMI
Source: Roster of 23d HQ officers, from family of Oscar Seale; Awards and Decorations; Pine Camp list, 18 Dec 1945; photo from 1940 VMI yearbook

Nelson Hotchkiss was born on January 26, 1917 in Richmond, VA. He was the youngest of four children; his father was manager of a bonded warehouse. He was descended from another Nelson Hill Hotchkiss who was from a family that had emigrated from England to Connecticut (and from there to New York) in 1635. Nelson Hotchkiss relocated to Virginia in 1855 to open a school with his brother, Jedediah Hotchkiss. Jed had moved to Virginia to be a tutor in 1847, and became a well-known Civil War cartographer and engineer on Stonewall Jackson's staff. Nelson Hotchkiss remained a staunch Union supporter.

Courtesy Ancestry®; from St. Christopher's yearbook, 1936

Nelson attended St. Christopher's School, a boys' prep school in Richmond, from first grade through twelfth, graduating in 1936. While there he played varsity football and baseball, and was president of the Monogram Club. His yearbook says that "Hootch" (as he was known) was the "most popular boy in the class of 1936."

He then went on to VMI (Virginia Military Institute) where he graduated with a liberal arts major in 1940; his VMI yearbook echoes his high school yearbook, saying that "Hootch" was "one of the best liked boys in barracks."

After graduation he received a commission as a 2LT in the Cavalry Reserves, and got a job teaching French and Spanish at the Augusta Military Academy at Fort Defiance, VA. On October 16, 1940, shortly after he started teaching, he registered for the draft. His teaching job was short-lived, since he was called to active duty at Fort Benning, GA in January, 1941.

On April 16, 1942 he married Margaret Grant in Bennettsville, SC. At the time he was assigned to Intelligence work for the War Department, and was stationed in Washington, DC. By December he had been promoted to the rank of CPT; in April, 1943 he was transferred to Fort Riley, KS where he remained in 1944. At some point in 1944 he was sent to Europe as part of the 23rd HQ Company of the Ghost Army.

After he returned to the states in July, 1945, he was sent to Pine Camp in Watertown, NY in August, along with fellow 23rd HQ Company Captain Edward Cowardin. Both of their wives joined them there.

Nelson and Margaret then returned to Richmond to begin their civilian lives. Nelson appears to have spent most of his career in sales—starting with a retail business in a shopping center in Richmond, where he also served as a member of the West Cary St. Merchants' Association. In 1968 he joined the sales staff of Fuel Oils, Inc. and by 1971 was a principal there.

Nelson and Margaret had two sons: Nelson Hill Jr. born in 1951 and Henry Stuart born in 1955. Both followed in their father's footsteps by attending St. Christopher's from early childhood on. Nelson Jr. played varsity football, baseball, and basketball, but, sadly, shot himself on the athletic field a few months before his graduation in 1971.

Nelson was a member of the Country Club of Virginia and the VMI Keydet Club (an alumni organization founded to support athletic scholarships for student athletes). In 1978, he served as best man at his son Stuart's wedding.

He died on July 9, 1997 in Richmond, and is buried at Hollywood Cemetery there.


1936 high school yearbook (see below)

1940 VMI yearbook (see below)


1920 census

1936 high school yearbook (St. Christopher's School)

1940 census

1940 Virginia Military Institute (VMI) yearbook

1940 article in Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) about his work in 1940

1940 draft card

1941 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA); he is called to active duty

1942 article in Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) about his marriage,0.26874,0.62780875,0.48902103&xid=3398&_gl=1*165pv3r*_ga*OTAyNjY1ODI4LjE2NzI5MjMwNDk.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY3MzcyMjM3Mi4xNS4xLjE2NzM3MzMwNjcuNjAuMC4w&_ga=2.205753491.1844644784.1673036203-902665828.1672923049

1944 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA); he is stationed at Fort Riley in KS as CPT

1945 article in Richmond News Leader (VA) re his return from Europe

1945 article in Richmond News Leader (VA); he is CPT and stationed at Pine Camp along with fellow GA veteran Edward Cowardin; both of their wives are with them

1945 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) about his discharge from the Army

1961 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) about his business

1968 ad in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) about his new position

1971 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) about his son's death

1971 son's obituary in Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)

1971 ad in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) re his work

1997 Find a Grave record

1997 obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)

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