While William Henry Hillegas built an upstanding reputation in the Naperville community, it’s his son that the guides on the ghost tours talk about. We’ll get to that later, but first, let’s give William his due.
Joseph and Mary Hillegas arrived in Illinois in 1857 and started farming. The family experienced several tragedies including the deaths of two sons before the move, two daughters after the move, and the death of Mary just a few years after their arrival. William and his two sisters, however, settled comfortably into the Naperville community.
William worked downtown at the hardware store of Andrew Friedley. Friedley’s name pops up all over the early city council records for providing nails and similar items for community infrastructure maintenance. His Lemont store is a national landmark and he died in Lockport, but the family tomb, an impressive pyramid, is in the Naperville Cemetery.
In 1862, William married Maria Hartman. The Civil War was already underway and William joined the 156th Illinois Infantry in 1864, serving until the War’s end. Their first child, Ida, was born in 1863 before William enlisted, Charles was born in 1867, and Harvey in 1869.
Eventually, William took over Friedley’s hardware store, partnered with Louis Reiche. Their establishment was on Water Street, now part of Chicago Avenue, in the building that currently houses Features Bar & Grill and Frankie’s Blue Room. Their names and the date when their store was erected, 1882, are still visible at the roofline.
In addition to working at the hardware business, William was also elected Trustee of the Naperville Village Board, served as a Mason, and was extremely active both with his church and with the local G.A.R. organization. Apparen