Home of Mrs. Ed Fellis

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

312 West Wood Street - Hillsboro Illinois
312 West Wood Street - Hillsboro Illinois

312 West Wood Street

Hillsboro, Illinois

Long known as the ''Little home’’, this house was built in 1863 by John O. ''Deacon'' Burnett and his wife, Ciscelia. The Burnetts had come to Hillsboro from New Jersey in 1856. Mr. Burnett was a veteran of the Mexican War and his widow’s petition for a pension is in the collection of the Historical Society.

In 1877, the Burnett’s daughter, Hannah (called ''Jenny''), was married to John H.

Little, who followed the trade of tinsmith in Hillsboro for many years, The house at 312 West Wood was the honeymoon home of the Littles, and their son, the well known editor and publisher of the Hillsboro Journal, was born there.

After the death of the senior Littles, the property was sold in 1944 to Mrs. Ed Fellis for a residence for her daughter, Peggy, and family. At this time, the house was a four room white cottage with green shutters, with two gable bedrooms upstairs where the original tin roof still furnishes melodies for sleepers on rainy nights. The structure of the house, causing quite some irregularities in floors and ceilings, rests on solid oak beams (some with the bark still attached) which are centered in the central chimney for support. The house had a hand fired furnace, but no indoor plumbing. There was no bathroom, but a lovely, plastered, outdoor ''Chic Sales ‘‘, with a small window to view Mrs. Little’s collection of wild flowers which grew profusely all over the lawn.

The Fellis' remodeled the interior of the house, starting with the closets. There was one tiny closet in the house in which there was a fireplace. In the other bedrooms, in ancient fashion, clothes were hung on hooks around the walls. The ''fireplace'' closet, unfortunately, was in a wall which was the center wall dividing the present living room into a front living room and back bedroom. This wall was eventually removed after a steel I-beam was finally located in Peoria after a long search. The wartime conditions then prevailing complicated the remodeling of the house.

The back bedroom, originally the dining room, was created by extending the hall wall. A bathroom Was added (no porcelain tubs available during World War II) ; the kitchen was modernized and , later, the back porch, fireplace and carport were added .

After a few years, the exterior white paint with green shutters was changed to dark green with white shutters.

Mrs. Ed Fellis, who had lived 43 years in a fifth floor apartment over the Orpheum Theatre, moved to the Little house in September 1972. She brought with her her possessions accumulated during her lifetime. In the front bedroom are an oak rocker and ‘‘Josephine’’, a china headed doll 80 years old. The antique, walnut trundle bed in the living room was formerly owned by Mrs. W. W. Cole of Fillmore. Also in the living room is much bric-a-brac from Mrs. Fellis' travels, including her souvenir spoon collection from 50 states and several foreign countries. The spoons are displayed in an 18th century curio table imported from London. In the hall is an antique hall tree formerly used at the Orpheum Theatre in plays given by stock companies passing through Hillsboro.

The back hall is decorated with pictures of Mr. Edward Fellis, Representative for the former 38th Senatorial District, and of Edward Wangler, Mrs. Fellis' grandson, who lived here at the age of four and who is now a doctor of English, teaching at George Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee.

On the back porch are mementos of Mrs. Fellis' school teaching days at the old Win- hold School in Hillsboro--a hand bell for calling the children to order, a coffeepot from the P.T.A., and several old textbooks. Mrs. Fellis taught at Winhold for 25 years. Her daughter and grandson also attended school there.

The Little house has changed tremendously since its beginnings in 1863, but it still retains the '' feel'' of a honeymoon cottage.

In the 1970's the Historical Society had home tour each year. This article is from a hand out visitors received when they toured this home.

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society