Updated: Oct 18, 2021
John S. Hayward, who was one of the largest land-owners and one of the foremost citizens, not only of Hillsboro, but of Illinois, was a native of Massachusetts, having been born at Bridgewater in the year 1803. The family is of English extraction, and the published genealogy contains accounts of the family dating back to 1638. John S. was educated in Massachusetts, and for several years after completing his scholastic course acted as accountant in one of the most extensive business houses of Boston, where he gained the entire confidence of his employer.
It was in 1832 that our subject came to Illinois, and two years later he located in Hillsboro, Montgomery County, where he engaged in the mercantile business. After a short but eminently successful and honorable career as a merchant, Mr. Hayward turned his attention to the more congenial occupation of operating in lands. This he pursued on a most magnificent scale, his transactions covering the princely and unprecedented amount of seventy-five thousand acres. The vast wealth which rewarded his uncommon sagacity found investment in the promotion of all worthy enterprises and in the most unobtrusive and kindly charities.
But it was not as a millionaire that he was most distinguished, for in every relation of life he played his role well and won the esteem of all with whom he came in contact. Upright and unassuming as a citizen, sympathetic to an uncommon degree, of refined and most elevated tastes, an affectionate husband, a kind and indulgent father, a generous friend and most exemplary Christian man, his pure soul knew no guile, and it may truly be said that he was an honor to his race, and an example of whom any community might well be proud.
In 1840 Mr. Hayward married Miss Harriette F. Comstock, of Hartford, Conn., by whom he had three children who grew to maturity, but William Eugene, the eldest, is the only one now living. Mr. Hayward's death occurred at his residence in Hillsboro, May 3, 1869. His wife survived him five years, dying in Pana in 1874.
In educational matters Mr. Hayward always took a deep interest, and gave his personal attention to the furtherance of schemes for their welfare. Believing in the education of the people, he was an early and ever a strong advocate of the free-school system, and, though paying yearly large sums in the way of taxes for the support of schools in which he could have no personal interest, he always did it cheerfully.
Taken from: Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois (1893)