From HISTORY OF ALLEN COUNTY, INDIANA, by Thomas B. Helms, with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. Township histories compiled by L. H. Newton. Reprint of 1880 edition published by Kingman Bros., Chicago
Among the noble families – that are noble in the sense of industry, integrity, and intelligence, and also as one of the pioneer families of the county – the Hillegasses rank high. MICHAEL HILLEGASS, the ancestor was a farmer and a native of Pennsylvania. He married MISS ANNA YEAKEL, of the same State, and the result of this union was 13 children, 8 of whom are now living. JACOB HILLEGASS, the youngest of the five brothers, married MISS LUCY A. POWELL. Her father, JOHN POWELL, married MISS BARBARA SHAFFER, both natives of Pennsylvania, and to them were born 8 children, 7 of whom are now living; Lucy A. being the 2nd member of the family.
JACOB HILLEGASS was born on the 7th day of February, 1818, in Montgomery County, Ohio, and his wife, Lucy A., was born on the 28th day of July, 1822, in Schuylkill County, Penn. They were married on the 26th day of May, 1841, in Butler County, Ohio, and the result of the alliance was 7 children, 4 sons and 3 daughters. We give the names in order of their births as follows: viz., JOSIAH D., JERRY, HEZEKIAH, ISAIAH J., SARAH J., MARY M., and LUCY I.
JACOB HILLEGASS, the head of this family, came to this county April 14, 1843, and located at Huntertown where he has ever since resided. For several years he was engaged in the tanning business, which he finally abandoned so as to devote his time fully to the quiet pursuit of farm-ing. He owns a very large and beautiful farm of the most productive soil, in fact, is one of the finest that can be found. It lies between the stations on the Grand Rapids and Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw Railroads, and the homestead is situated mid-way on an eminence, f rom which can be seen the trains passing to and fro. On this farm, the children have grown up, and, having in early years cultivated the spirit of industry, and ambition in an intellectual view, they have, with one exception, naturally abandoned the farm.
JACOB HILLEGASS has held several positions of importance, the last was the office of County Commissioner, to which place he was first elected in October 1869, and re-elected 3 years later, serving in that capacity for 6 years. It was during this time that he became very noted among his constituents, as a man of energy, much decision of character and of the most unflinching integrity. He is a Democrat, and the whole family have imbibed his political principles. He and his wife have been for many years members of the Presbyterian Church.
J. D. HILLEGASS, the oldest son, was a graduate of the law class of 1870 of the University of Michigan. After having received his diploma, he entered the law office of Judge Morris. In his professional life, he was associated with JOHN STAHL, his brother-in-law, under the firm name of STAHL & HILLEGASS. He died on April 2, 1875, and his death was the first that entered this happy family circle. As a man, his sterling integrity and blameless life won for him the love and admira-tion of his friends, while he commanded the respect of all. As a lawyer, his thorough knowledge of the law and his unquestionable business capacity drew to him many clients.
JERRY HILLEGASS graduated in the Literary Department of the University of Michigan, and has had conferred on him by that institution, both the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts. He has been Superintendent of the County for the last 6 years, and is universally known and admired. A more extended sketch of him can be found elsewhere in this work.
HEZEKIAH HILLEGASS was married December 25, 1871 to MISS ELLA WORK, and the fruits of that union are 2 children. He is actively engaged in agricultural pursuits and is regarded as an honorable citizen.
MISS SARAH J. HILLEGASS was married, May 30, 1872, to JOHN STAHL, and by their marriage had 3 children. She acquired her education in Fort Wayne, being a graduate of the high school of the same place. Her husband, JOHN STAHL, was a graduate of the law class of the University of Michigan, 1869. He was a partner to her brother, and died August 16, 1878. He was an able advocate and his character was unimpeachable.
The Misses MARY and LUCY HILLEGASS are amiable and highly esteemed ladies. ISAIAH J. HILLEGASS a member of the law Department of the Uni-versity of Michigan, is an intelligent and promising young man.
The school days of their parents were somewhat limited, as was the custom in earlier times, but they have been true promoters of education and general progress, and have acted their part nobly in life’s great drama.
From B. J. Griswold THE PICTORIAL HISTORY OF FORT WAYNE, INDIANA, and THE STORY OF THE TOWNSHIPS OF ALLEN COUNTY, by Mrs. Samuel R. Taylor, Chicago, Robert O. Law Company, 1917
The family of JACOB HILLEGASS has been one of extreme prominence since its first arrival in 1843, and is so well known all over the county that it seems odd that its personal history was nearly all made in Perry township. As a boy, JACOB HILLEGASS was a pioneer’s son in Montgomery County, Ohio, receiving only the meager advantages afforded by the log school houses in the woods. Married in 1841 to MISS LUCY A. POWELL, like himself of Pennsylvania origin, the young people came to Perry in 1843 and took up the half section where they pass the remainder of their lives. It is impossible to go into detail, but MR. HILLEGASS’S career was characterized by every quality of good citizenship, and he was in constant requirement as an official of the township, and also of the county. Mr. and Mrs. Hillegass were both Presbyterians, and reared their fine family of girls and boys in that creed. Mr. Hillegass was always a supporter of churches in general, also of schools and all worthy enterprises. Determined that his children should not like himself, lack opportunity, he encouraged each one in his bent, and gave them the most liberal advantages. Three of his sons graduated from Michigan University, JOSIAH and ISAIAH becoming lawyers, while JEREMIAH or “Jerry” was called from his post-graduate course at college to become County Superintendent of Schools. HEZEKIAH chose a farmer’s life and the daughters SARAH, MARY and LUCY received their education in the Fort Wayne High School. SARAH became the wife of her brother’s law partner, JOHN STAHL (who died in 1878) and MARY married the late SILAS B. MacMANUS, the well-famed dialect poet, whose quaint and sincere verses touch many a Hoosier heart.
From THE VALLEY OF THE UPPER MAUMEE and ANNALS OF THE TOWNSHIPS, 1887 edition, reprint by Brant and Fuller, Madison, Wisconsin, page 324-325
Among the notable families of Allen county are JACOB HILLEGASS and wife, pioneers of Perry township, and their descendants. His father MICHAEL HILLEGASS, was a farmer and a native of Pennsylvania. He was married to ANNA YEAKEL, and they had thirteen children. JACOB, the youngest of the five brothers, was born February 7, 1818, after the removal of the family to Montgomery county, Ohio. There he was raised, and there he received the education which could be obtained in the early school-houses in the woods. May 26, 1841, in Butler county, Ohio, he was united in marriage with LUCY A. POWELL, daughter of JOHN POWELL and BARBARA SHAFFER, both natives of Pennsylvania. This union was blessed with 7 children:
JOSIAH D., JERRY, HEZEKIAH, ISAIAH J., SARAH J., MARY M. and LUCY I.
Mrs. Hillegass was born July 28, 1822, in Butler county, Ohio. She and husband have for many years been members of the Presbyterian church. Mr. Hillegass is a man in whom the people have always had implicit confidence, and in an early day when the township board consisted of treasurer, clerk and one director, he served as clerk about 6 years, afterward being elected trustee, a position he held 9 years. He has also served as assessor of his township. During his terms in these smaller offices, he became noted among his constituents as a man of energy and much decision of character, and this reputation led to his election as county commissioner in October 1870. He was re-elected 3 years later. In this position he acquitted himself with honor. Mr. Hillegass came to Allen county, April 14, 1843, and settled on the farm where he now lives. It comprises 320 acres of very fine farming land, well improved, with a two-story brick dwelling. He has always been a supporter of churches, schools and all laudable enterprises. Though in his 71st year, he is fully able to enjoy the comforts with which he is so amply surrounded. His many qualities and honest dealing have gained for him the respect of all who know him. Having been deprived of school advantages in his early years, he bestowed those privileges upon his children liberally. His sons, J. D., JERRY, and ISAIAH, were graduated at the University of Michigan. The first and the third became lawyers, and the second was for several years superintendent of schools of Allen county. JOSIAH D., died April 2, 1875, and his law partner, JOHN STAHL, husband of SARAH J. HILLEGASS, died August 16, 1878.
Hillegass home on the Gump Road
HILLEGASS FAMILY, HISTORY OF (from booklet)
During the second half of the 19th century, one of the most prominent families of the township and the county itself, was that of Jacob and Lucy Hillegass, whose home still stands today.
Jacob Hillegass was born in Montgomery County, Ohio, on February 7, 1818. His parents, Michael Hillegass and Anna Yeakel were both natives of Pennsylvania and had been farming for several years.
Jacob spent his teen years in Ohio working on his father’s farm and receiving what little schooling he could get from the log cabin school house near his home. When he was 23, Jacob married Lucy Ann Powell in Butler County, Ohio.
Almost a year later, on May 18, 1842, the couple’s first child was born, a boy whom they named Josiah. The small family remained in Montgomery County for another year, after which they packed up and moved to Allen County, Indiana.
Five months after the Hillegass family arrived in Perry Township, in 1843, Jacob bought a small tract in section 17 from James Thompson. He paid $650, for 40 acres, with a 10 year mortgage. Over the next 25 years, Jacob would buy up other tracts, and by 1870 would have over 400 acres of land, with a total farm value of $27,600.
On February 22, 1844, Jacob and Lucy had their second son, Jeremiah, who was most often called Jerry. During these first few years of residence in Allen County, the Hillegass’s ran a small tanning business on their farm. However, Jacob soon decided to give this up in order to devote his full attention to the farm.
Jacob planted wheat, corn, oats and potatoes and kept horses, cows, sheep and pigs on the farm. He also continued to buy land, and by the time the 1850 agriculture census was taken, 160 acres of land were in the Hillegass holdings. The census reports that the farm had an annual production of over 300 bushels of wheat, 500 bushels of corn, 100 bushels of oats, 100 bushels of potatoes, and from the sheep and milk cows, 22 lbs. of wool were taken and 300 lbs. of butter were made. The sale of the butchered cattle and swine brought in an annual $100. The Hillegass land was well on its way to becoming the large, beautiful, and very productive farm that it became known for.
In 1847, a third son was born, Hezekial, and in 1851, the first daughter was born to Lucy and Jacob, and she was named Sarah Jane. Throughout the next 9 years, the farm continued to grow. More acreage was added to the estate, allowing Jacob to grow more wheat, corn, oats and potatoes. He started new crops of buckwheat, hay and sorghum, and put in an orchard grove. More horses, sheep, and pigs were bought and more children were born. Mary Margaret was born in 1853, Isaiah Jacob in 1855, and Lucy in 1859.
In addition to being a busy farmer and the head of a now large household, Jacob served for 6 years of this decade as the county clerk. This would be the beginning of a long and successful career as a public servant for Jacob.
It was during these years, while the farm flourished, that the Hillegass name began to acquire all the honor and respect that it would eventually have at the turn of the century. Lucy and Jacob were devout members of the Presbyterian Church and they raised their children in that faith. Visitors to the homestead would find that Lucy was a very warm and gracious hostess and just as hard working as her husband. Jacob soon became known for his honesty and integrity, and in 1859, without seeking office, was elected to be the Perry Township Trustee. He would continue to hold this office for 9 years.
Although neither Lucy nor Jacob had received very adequate schooling, they encouraged their children to receive as liberal an education as they could get. The boys all went to the Perry Centre Seminary, which was located where the present day roads of Coldwater and Gump intersect. The school was founded in 1856 by Nathaniel Fitch, Jacob Kell, and George B. Gloyd, and flourished for 5 years. At the start of the Civil War, the faculty and students enlisted and the school was disbanded.
Shortly after Mr. Hillegass took office as township trustee, it is believed that the house that now stands just east of the intersection of Gump Road and State Road 3 was built. The current owner, Mr. Richard Florea, has been collecting information about the house since purchasing it in 1976, and cannot find any evidence that the house stood before 1860.
In 1867, Jacob left the trustee office, and shortly afterwards Josiah, the eldest child, went off to college at the University of Michigan to study law. In October, 1869, Jacob was elected to serve as one of the County Commissioners. Later that winter, in 1870, when the Hillegass family made its annual agricultural census report, they recorded the largest production that the farm would ever see. The total value was $27,600; a far cry from $650.
The farm was so large that Mr. Hillegass was paying $320 a year in wages to laborers who helped him on the farm. The third eldest son, Hezekial, although he was of age, choose not to go to college, and instead stayed at home to help his father on the farm. Isiah, by now 14, most certainly helped with the chores. The 2 older girls were either now attending or had graduated from Fort Wayne High School.
Josiah graduated from the University of Michigan in 1870, and soon became a lawyer in Judge Morris’s office in Fort Wayne. Jeremiah was still at Michigan working on his Master of Arts Degree in the literary department.
Hezekial married Miss Ella Work on Christmas day, 1871. The couple would eventually have 2 children, and continue to be an active farming family in Perry Township. Sarah married another law graduate of the University of Michigan, John Stahl, on May 30, 1872. Sarah’s brother, Josiah, and Stahl formed a law firm in Fort Wayne called Stahl and Hillegass, and remained partners until Josiah died in 1875.
A few years after Sarah’s wedding, Jerry was pulled from his postgraduate studies in Michigan to come back to Fort Wayne and take over the office of Allen County Superintendent of Schools, which he held for 10 years.
Jacob Hillegass completed his second term as County Commissioner in 1876 and again turned his full attention to the farm. He bought 50 poultry and started selling eggs. He cut 15 cords of wood from the trees on his land. He also kept up all the crops of spring wheat, corn, oats, and buckwheat, hay, clover, and flax. The animals had to be tended also, since he still had horses, milking cows, other cattle, sheep and swine.
The farm was now a very beautiful and pleasant place to live, as Sarah found out when her husband, John Stahl, died in 1878, forcing her to take her 3 children and return to the Hillegass homestead.
Isaiah soon went to the University of Michigan to become a lawyer also, however, he stayed on to be a member of the department. Miss Lucy Hillegass would eventually graduate from Fort Wayne High School, as her older sisters had. Mary Hillegass married Silas B. McManus, the famous Hoosier dialect poet.
By 1880, only Isaiah, Sarah Stahl, and Lucy were still living with their parents on the farm. Jacob had stopped producing some of the crops, had apparently sold the trees in his orchard, sold a few animals, and sold some of his land, thus bringing the value of the farm down to $16,000.
The following decade progressed as the others had, with Jacob and Lucy continuing to work the land. In 1898, Jacob became ill, and because of his age, was unable to improve. He died at the age of 80 years. By this time, Jerry had finished his terms as County Superintendent and was living on the farm. Mary McManus was living in Lima, Indiana, and Lucy had become Mrs. Lucy Wert of Auburn. Sarah Stahl’s children had grown up and she was living in Fort Wayne.
Years later, in 1911, the Hillegass estate fell out of the hands of family members, and was sold to Mr. Edward Wells. Other owners since then have been Ella Brownlee in 1936, Forest Gump in 1955, Ronald Brungie in 1968, and Richard Florea since 1976.
The last member of the Hillegass family was Sarah, who died November 5, 1933, in Denver, Colorado. Hezekial died in 1921, and Isaiah died in 1914. It is not known for sure when Mary and Lucy died.
The homestead that remains today on the Gump Road is not much different from what it was in the late 1800’s. A hipped-roof bank barn, a carriage and tool shed and a well still remain. Foundations and supports indicate the presence of 2 other small barns, a grain silo, a windmill above the well, and a sort of summer kitchen that extended from the east side of the house. Two identical balconies and porches still exist on the north and south sides of the house, although the shutters on the windows have been removed.
Inside the house, 2 of the 3 original fireplaces are still used; the largest one in the kitchen was reopened in 1976 after being bricked up for at least 70 years. Only 1 of 3 initial stairways still exist. It is a walnut staircase in the hallway. One of the other stairways was sort of like a ladder that ran from a pantry in the kitchen to living quarters upstairs for boarders. Wooden plank flooring throughout the house has not been replaced as well as a few gas lighting fixtures.
1880 Census of Perry Township, Allen County, IN, page 196 B
Jacob Hillegass married male, 62 born Ohio Farmer
Both parents born PA
Lucy Ann Hillegass wife female, 53 born PA Keeps house
Both parents born PA
Sarah Stall (Stahl) dau, widow female, 29 born IN At home
Lorena Stall gr. dau. female, 7 born IN
Bertha Stall gr. dau. female, 6 born IN
John Jacob Stall gr. son male, 3 born IN
Isaiah Hillegass son, single male, 23 born IN At home
Lucy Hillegass dau, single female, 20 born IN At home
Henry Krohn single male, 21 born IN Farm laborer
Father born Prussia, Mother born IN
Catharine Orick single female, 17 born IN Servant
Parents both born Prussia
1850 Census of Perry Township, Allen Co., IN #2764-1776
Jacob Hillegone 33 M Farmer born Ohio
Lucy A. 27 F born PA
Jrrioh 8 M born Ohio
Jeremiah 7 M born IN
Ezekiel 4 M born IN
1850 Census of Perry Township, Allen Co., IN #2682-2693
Josephes Hillegas 38 M Farmer born PA
Hannah Hillegas 30 F born PA
Marietta Hillegas 11 F born Ohio
Mehiel J. Hillegas 8 M born Ohio
William H. Hillegas 6 M born Ohio
1850 Census of Perry Township, Allen Co., IN #2797-2809
Samuel Hildegoss 45 M Farmer born PA
Mary 16 F born Ohio
Elizabeth 15 F born Ohio
Sophia 13 F born Ohio
Joseph 10 M born IN
Michael 8 M born IN
George 6 M born IN
1880 Census of Perry Township, Allen Co., IN 195 C
Hezekiah Hilligass married male, 32 born IN Farmer
Father born Ohio, Mother born PA
Ella F. Hilligass wife female, 29 born IN Keeps house
Both parents born Ireland
Robert M. Hilligass son male, 7 born IN
HILLEGASS BURIALS AT PERRY TOWNSHIP CEMETERY, ALLEN CO., IN
HILLEGASS, CHARLES D. Dec. 12, 1853 2Y 3M 5D
Son of Joseph and Hannah
HILLEGASS, ELIZABETH Sept. 3, 1818 35Y 11M 10D
Wife of Samuel
HILLEGASS, ELLA 1852-1921 Wife of Hezekiah
HILLEGASS, HEZIKIAH 1847-1921 Ella
HILLEGASS, ISAIAH I. Dec. 18, 1855-Dec. 24, 1880 Lucy
HILLEGASS, JERRY D. Nov. 1, 1878-Dec. 20, 1880 2Y 1M 19D
HILLEGASS, JERY Feb. 22, 1844-June 20, 1914
HILLEGAS, JOSEPH Aug. 14, 1849 7M 14D
Son of Joseph and Hannah
HILLEGASS, JOSIAH D. May 18, 1842-April 2, 1875 32Y
HILLEGASS, LUCY A. July 28, 1822-Aug. 6, 1905
HILLEGASS, LULA MAY 1873-March 15, 1941
HILLEGASS, ROBERT J. 1873-March 16, 1949
HILLEGASS, ROBERT W. 1896-1930
HILLEGASS, WARD E. 1899-Feb. 6, 1965
Jacob Hillegass Obituary
From the Fort Wayne Evening Sentinel, March 23, 1898
HON. JACOB HILLEGASS DEPARTS THIS LIFE
Tuesday, March 22, at his home near Huntertown, occurred the death of Jacob Hillegass, a man who for more than half a century had been prominently identified with the affairs of Allen County and northern Indiana.
Jacob Hillegass was born February 7, 1818, in Montgomery county, Ohio. He was united in marriage May 26, 1841, in Butler county, Ohio, to Miss Lucy A. Powell. Seven children were born to them, five of whom survive him, as follows: Jerry, Hezekiah, Mrs. S.J. Stahl, Mrs. S.B. McManus and Mrs. L.A. West.
The deceased came to Allen county April 11, 1843, and located at Huntertown, where he has ever since lived, and has devoted the greater part of his life to farming. He was among the most successful and enterprising farmers of northern Indiana and was in the advance guard of progressive agriculture. His home, near the village of Huntertown, is well known as being of the most beautiful places in the country.
His educational advantages were somewhat limited but he availed himself to the utmost of his school privileges and throughout his long life was an eager student, an earnest seeker after knowledge and was a true promoter of education and general progress, acting his part nobly in life’s great drama.