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Hillsboro History

 

There seems to be no recorded answer as to why the second county seat was named Hillsboro or Hillsborough, as it was often spelled. Some think it was named for the hilly terrain on which it is located. Others believe it was named for Hillsboro, North Carolina, the native state of Hiram Rountree, John Nussman and other early settlers.

 

Hillsboro is the county seat and is located just 50 miles south of Springfield, IL and 65 miles northeast from St. Louis, MO, the quaint village of Hillsboro is well known throughout central Illinois. Its unique charm, friendly townspeople and enviable lifestyle provide many benefits to Hillsboro residents and visitors alike.

 

Historical Harkey House

Contact: Jim May 217-246-1121

The Solomon Harkey House is open on special occasions and by appointment.

 

Located at the Corner of Broad & Water Streets
The pioneer village of Hillsboro was less than a dozen years old when Solomon Harkey built his two-story Federal style home in 1834. A plain house by today's standards, it must have seemed a mansion at a time when even the Montgomery County courthouse was a simple log structure. The Harkey family had come to Illinois in 1830 from North Carolina. Solomon established a tannery on the site of the present day Central Park and, later, became a farmer with large land holdings. He was married to Sophia Cress in 1831, and their nine children were raised in this house. When Solomon died in 1892, his obituary stated, "When he came here the greater part of this country was a wild, unbroken wilderness. His history is the history of Hillsboro and Montgomery County."

By 1968, the Harkey House had become the earliest structure remaining in Hillsboro. In use as a warehouse, it was slated for demolition. The Historical Society raised funds to relocate the house, and a lot was selected one block south of the original site. During the moving process, it was discovered that the walls of the house were lined with bricks. Most of these were dislodged during the move, but one portion of a parlor wall has been left unplastered to show the original construction.

The house required extensive restoration, much of which was accomplished by devoted members of the Historical Society. Progress was forced to wait on fund raising, and the house was not opened until 1979. The Harkey House has been furnished almost entirely with pieces donated by members and friends of the Society. The furnishings are typical of the middle and late 19th century and were used in Montgomery County homes prior to donation. If the Harkey family could return to their house today, we think they would feel right at home.

 

Veterans Memorial

The new Hillsboro Area Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Veterans' Day, November 1, 2005. Located on the former Edison Park at the intersection of South Main and School Streets (Rts. 127 and 16), the memorial was financed totally by donations and constructed by skilled local craftsmen who volunteered their labor.

 

The names of more than 4,000 veterans, both living and deceased, appear on stately black marble stones arranged in a circle around the center flag pole. Emblems of the six branches of the U.S. military and the quote, "Lest We Forget" grace the arched concrete wall that forms the backdrop to the memorial.

 

To be named, the veteran must be a former or present resident of the area now encompassed by Hillsboro Unit School District, which includes communities of Hillsboro, Schram City, Taylor Springs, Butler, Coffeen, Irving, Witt, Donnellson and Panama. In addition, his or her military discharge records must be on file in the office of the Montgomery County Clerk.

 

The memorial honors those who have served their country in the United States Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard or Merchant Marine, beginning with the World War I era and through the present day. It is the intent of the Memorial Committee to continue to add names of qualifying veterans at least annually.

 

*source: "Along the Lincoln Trail, Hillsboro of Illinois" by David Alan Badger

 

Web links for the History of Hillsboro

Montgomery County Historical Society

Illinois Historical Preservation Agency

Historical Society of Montgomery County on Facebook

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