Prosperous Illinois town, one of prettiest in state, also noted for its broad church and school program.
By LLOYD GREEN
A PROSPEROUS town of stately homes, wide streets and thriving industries, Hillsboro easily qualifies as one of the prettiest small communities in Illinois.
Founded in 1821 on the rich plains of farmland midway between St. Louis and Springfield, Hillsboro became the seat of Montgomery County two years later.
Early in its history the town was a frequent overnight stopping place for State Representative Abraham Lincoln whenever he made the two-day trip between Springfield and the state capital, then at Vandalia.
Today, as always, Hillsboro is largely dependent on farm trade. But it is more highly industrialized than most towns of 4100 population. And it has a larger and more modern business district than might be expected.
Largest of Hillsboro's factories is Ball Brothers Company, which makes glass bottles. Employing about 350 persons, this plant will resume operations within a few weeks after several months of inactivity.
Two zinc smelters are Hillsboro's other major industrial plants. Operated by the American Zinc Company and the Eagle-Picher Lead Company, these plants employ about 200 persons each in making zinc oxide, used in manufacturing paint and in compounding rubber for automobile tires.
The zinc ore processed in these smelters must be shipped to Hillsboro from other areas. But the town once was the center of an important coal mining district, and easy access to large quantities of coal needed in processing the ore was the reason for the smelters being built there.
Hillsboro long has been noted for its beautiful churches and large congregations. The religious influence in the town may be noted even on the front of the Courthouse at the North end of Main Street, where a large electric sign proclaims, "The World Needs God."
Hillsboro residents, many of whom are descendants of the comparatively well-educated early settlers of the town, always have taken great pride in their schools. Until 1880 the community even boasted a small college.
A school proposition has never been defeated at th? ?ls Hillsboro, and only last year ? $? junior high school was completed. Giving the town five public schools.
A sports-minded community, Hillsboro is ?d for outstanding high school teams. The football team took second place in its conference the past season, and the basketball team won first place in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament at Pontiac, Ill., in December.
Of particular interest in Hillsboro is the row of stately housing lining Main Street at the southern end of the business district. These old columned structures, still occupied and maintained in excellent fashion, were built during the post-Civil War era.
A few blocks away is the Hiram Rountree House, the oldest in Hillsboro. A two-story brick structure, still used as a residence, it was built in 1831. Two blocks from it is the Solomon Harkey House, built in 1832.
With a water shortage plaguing many communities during the recent drouth, Hillsboro was fortunate in having a 114-acre artificial lake for its water supply. The lake also provides a boating, fishing and swimming area and is surrounded by a large municipal park. Adjoining the park is a private country club, with a nine-hole golf course.
Hillsboro has nine churches, two semi-weekly newspapers, two banks, a public library, one theater, and is served by the New York Central and Chicago & Eastern Railroads.
Old Settlers’ Day started in 1883, is one of Hillsboro’s outstanding annual attractions. A two-day event held each August, the celebration draws thousands of visitors from the surrounding area who come to see a fitting tribute to a pleasant community,
Photography by Jack Zehrt, except aerial photo by Hillsboro Journal.
Published: St. Louis Globe Democrat
Date: Sunday, February 7, 1954