John Tillson, Jr., the man who founded the old Hillsboro Academy in 1837, served as president of the board of trustees until his death in 1853 at the age of 57. He was the major stockholder of the Academy when it was established and contributed $9,000 to the Lutherans when they leased the Academy building for a college.
Mr. Tillson, a native of Halifax, Mass., lived in the Hillsboro area, where he owned much property and had various business interests, from 1820 to 1843 when he moved to Quincy, which he helped develop.
He was one of the pioneer settlers responsible for establishing Montgomery County and Hillsboro as the county seat.
He was the first county treasurer, the first county postmaster, operator of the first store and a very successful land agent.
He founded the Presbyterian Church here in 1828, provided the site on which three churches have stood and financed most of the construction of the first brick church before turning his interest towards establishing a coeducational academy in his adopted community.
Through his efforts the historic old Academy, an important part of Hillsboro's educational history, came into being.