Montgomery County Illinois History

540 South Main Street Hillsboro Illinois540 South Main Street
Hillsboro Illinois

This two-story brick home, which was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was purchased by Michael and Kathy in August 1978. From the exterior it appears much as it is pictured in the 1874 Illustrated Atlas Map of Montgomery County, and can well be described as a part of Hillsboro's past.

The house is located on a small portion of an 80 acre tract of land which Newton Coffey acquired from the government on June 9, 1823. Mr. Coffey was the pioneer settler who gave the 20 acre tract of land as the original town site to establish Hillsboro as the Montgomery County seat in August 1823.

Mr. Coffey sold the tract of land to John Tillson, Jr. who was later to help establish the Hillsboro Presbyterian Church and the old Hillsboro Academy. Mr. Tillson took possession of the land on December 24, 1824 and owned the property until leaving here to help establish the town of Quincy. He sold the lot to John S. Hayward, a pioneer Hillsboro merchant. This property eventually became the home sites of the old C. W. Grassel residence, now owned by Arthur Salsi; the E. T. McDavid place, now the Don Traylor property; and the old J. K. McDavid home site, on which the Kroger store now stands.

It is believed that Mr. Hayward, who served for many years as secretary- treasurer of the Hillsboro Academy which stood across the street from his home, built this house sometime in the 1850's. He frequently entertained persons of prominence, including Abraham Lincoln, who was a regular Hillsboro visitor.

Mr. Hayward sold the residence to Charles B. Rhodes in 1870. Mr. Rhoades was elected one of the first aldermen of Hillsboro at the time it was incorporated as a city. He also served as Mayor of the City of Hillsboro in 1880. He and his family enjoyed the home until it was sold to L. V. Hill in 1904.

Mr. Hill, whose family owned the property from 1904-1963, was one of the most prominent citizens of Hillsboro and a leading member of the county bar. He was widely known throughout the state during his 44 years as a lawyer. L. V. and Josephine Hill became the parents of one child, Mary Catherine, who currently resides in New York. Michael and Kathy have enjoyed corresponding with her concerning various aspects of the house.

Following Mrs. Hill's death in 1962, the house was sold to Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Bigelow, who converted the residence into two apartments. The house was then purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Joe Roseman, who in turn sold the house to the Wynns in 1978.

Michael and Kathy have relished converting the residence back into a single family dwelling. Prior to moving into the home they worked for two months closing doorways, reopening original ones, and painting and decorating the first floor of the house. Work continued on the second floor after they moved in. Michael spent about three hours per spindle refinishing the walnut staircase.

Their hobby of buying, refinishing and putting to use antiques has been developing over the past eight years. Because of finances and the scarcity of period pieces, Michael and Kathy agreed that it would be impossible to completely furnish a house with antiques in just a few years. Although their house is relatively full, there are still a few items for which they are hunting A proud possession is a pen and ink drawing of the house beautifully executed by local artist Claude Grotts. This hangs on the east wall of the living room.

The most recent project in the house was the completion of the upstairs nursery. Until this spring it had been the kitchen in the former upstairs apartment. Some day they would like to reopen the original back stairway from the nursery to the kitchen. Kathy and Michael are expecting the arrival of their first child around Halloween.

The Wynns enjoy their home very much and feel quite proud to be the sixth owners of the 125 year old stately structure.

Posted in: Hillsboro
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