This honored veteran of the great civil war and prominent citizen of
Ottawa, LaSalle county, was born at Plattsburg, Clinton county, New York,
November 2, 1838. His paternal grandfather, Joshua Hilliard, a native of
Connecticut, was one of the heroes of the war for independence. He married a
Miss Grinnell, likewise of Connecticut, and for a number of years they dwelt
in Vermont. It was in that state that the father of our subject, Anson
Milliard, was born and reared. When a mere youth he removed to the Empire
state, there passing the remainder of his life, and dying while in his
prime, in 1856. His wife, whose maiden name was Amity Smith, was born in
Montpelier, Vermont, and departed this life in 1849.
Thus, when but eleven years of age, John Hilliard was deprived of the tender care of a mother, from whom he received training in example and precept, resulting in high standards of action in his later life. Until the death of his father, he continued to live at the place of his birth, Plattsburg, in whose public schools he obtained a liberal education for that period. In 1858 he came to the prairie state and spent about a year in Ottawa and vicinity, then returning to his native town.
When the war of the Rebellion broke out, John Hilliard was prompt in offering his services to the government. He enlisted in 1861 for a period of two years, in Company C, Sixteenth Regiment of the New York Volunteer Infantry, under command of Captain Frank Palmer and Colonel Davies. With his regiment he was ordered to the front in time to take part in the first battle of Bull Run, and subsequently participated in numerous minor engagements. In 1863 he was actively engaged in the battle of Fredericksburg, and was captured by the enemy, but exchanged at the end of ten days. At the close of his term of enlistment he was mustered out, at Albany, and granted an honorable discharge.
In 1863, Mr. Hilliard returned to Ottawa, where for three years he was employed on the Illinois & Michigan canal, engaged in the transfer of farm produce from various points along the line to Chicago. In 1868 he entered into business relations with Andrew Hamilton, of Ottawa, under the firm name of Hamilton & Hilliard, and for ten years they were successfully engaged in the sale of flour and feed, lime and other products. At the end of the decade our subject sold his interest to his partner and bought a quarter section of land in Utica township. For four years he gave his entire attention to the cultivation and improvement of this property, and dealt more or less in live stock. A good opportunity presenting itself for the disposal of his homestead, he sold the place, and returning to Ottawa again became a partner of Mr. Hamilton. This connection continued for two years. For the second time he sold out and retired on account of failing health. He subsequently purchased a farm near the town of Utica, and here resided temporarily for two years, and in the fall of 1899 returned to Ottawa, his present place of residence.
Mr. Hilliard served for one term as an alderman, in Ottawa. In the Grand Army of the Republic he belongs to Seth C. Earl Post, No. 156, of Ottawa. In the Masonic order he is identified with Occidental Lodge, No. 40, A. F. & A. M., of this place. By his marriage to Miss Maria Hickling, a daughter of Thomas Hickling. Mr. Hilliard had one child, a daughter, who died when eight years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Hilliard have an adopted son, Hubert J. Hilliard, who now resides on Mr. Hilliard's farm near Utica.
Extracted 19 Dec 2018 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 561-563.