Ghost Signs Hillsboro Illinois

Updated: Dec 21, 2021


Hillsboro Main Street visitors can still read the original "Battle Ax Plug" Chewing tobacco ghost sign.
Hillsboro Main Street visitors can still read the original "Battle Ax Plug" Chewing tobacco ghost sign.

Painted over 125 years ago, Main Street visitors can still read the original "Battle Ax Plug" Chewing tobacco ghost sign. "The Largest Piece of Good Tobacco Ever Sold for 10 Cents."


Ghost signs are found across Montgomery County with many towns having surviving examples. These are advertisement hand painted on brick that still remain. Many ghost signs from the 1890s to 1960s are still visible. Such signs were most commonly used in the decades before the Great Depression.

David S. Clotfelter Building - 305 & 307 S. Main Street Hillsboro
David S. Clotfelter Building - 305 & 307 S. Main Street Hillsboro

For more than fifty years, the sides of the four story David S. Clotfelter Building located on Main Street in Hillsboro Illinois were used for hand painted commercial advertisements. The signs were painted on both sides of the building and measured roughly 70 foot wide by 20 foot tall. At this time the third floor of the Clotfelter building was home to the Hillsboro Masonic Lodge and the second floor North was home to the Hillsboro American Legion.

"Use Burdsal's Steamboat Paint - the paint that won't come off - sold by E. Douglas Drugs."
"Use Burdsal's Steamboat Paint - the paint that won't come off - sold by E. Douglas Drugs."

This image is from Old Settlers 9/3/1908. At that time visitors to Main Street would have seen a gigantic hand painted ad for "Use Burdsal's Steamboat Paint - the paint that won't come off - sold by E. Douglas Drugs." The paint did come off but elements of all these signs are still visible today on the sides of the Clotfelter building especially the South side when the building is wet.


Around 1915 a huge hand painted Gold Medal Flour advertisement on the sides of the Clotfelter building.
Around 1915 a huge hand painted Gold Medal Flour advertisement on the sides of the Clotfelter building.

This photo was taken before the Orpheum Theater was built in 1921. You can partially see Latham Hardware hand painted sign on the West side of the street.

This photo is from Old Settlers 1941 showing Aristos Flour being advertised on the sides of the building.
This photo is from Old Settlers 1941 showing Aristos Flour being advertised on the sides of the building.

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society