WILFORD F. DILLON. One of those men whose influence has been deeply felt in Franklin county, Illinois, because of the part he has played in promoting the best development and progress of this section of the state, is Mr. Wilford F. Dillon, the well known lawyer of Benton. Mr. Dillon first saw light of day in Franklin county, November 25, 1853, his parents, Isaac, Jr., and Malinda (Rea) Dillon, having also been natives of the same community. Jesse Dillon, grandfather of Wilford F., was one of the earliest pioneer settlers of Franklin county. Both he and his son followed the pursuit of agriculture and Wilford Dillon is owner of a fine two hundred and forty acre farm, the cultivation of which he superintends during the time he spares from his legal practice. Our subject's father was a Douglas Democrat and a man of wide acquaintance. His death occurred February 6, 1861. Mrs. Dillon survived him many years and died on February 14, 1890. Her father, Colonel Abraham Rea, came to Franklin county in an early day, when the country was very sparsely settled and the Indians trouble some, and Mr. Rea was a colonel in the army which fought the Black Hawk war.
Wilford F. Dillon received his early education at the city schools of Benton, later supplementing that training with a course at Ewing College. Upon completing his educational training he adopted the pedagogic profession and for fifteen years was engaged as a teacher in the schools of Franklin and Monroe counties, and was at one time principal of the Benton schools.
In 1886 Mr. Dillon began the study of law in the office of D. M. Browning and was admitted to the bar in 1889. He did not, however, engage in active practice at that time. He was appointed a master in chancery, in which capacity he served until 1890, when he was elected county superintendent of schools, receiving the nomination at the hands of the Republican party, in the principles of which he believed and in whose councils he was always interested and active. The following year, 1891, Mr. Dillon was appointed by Governor Yates as superintendent of stone at the Southern Illinois Penitentiary at Chester and resigned that position. In 1894 Mr. Dillon was called to official position again in Franklin county and served as county judge for a term. He later received the nomination for circuit judge, but was defeated at the election by a small margin in one very heavily Democratic district.
Locating in Benton, Mr. Dillon formed a partnership with A. A. Strickland, and the firm has ever since done a very large general practice in all the courts. Mr. Dillon is a man of many attainments and acute foresight and has conducted his personal business affairs in such a manner as to have won for himself through his own unaided efforts a comfortable fortune. Whatever his official or private interests he always maintained great activity in educational lines and has done much to promote higher education in this part of the state. The public schools owe much to his efforts for their present high efficiency and it was through his influence that the Benton township high school, with one of the finest buildings in the state, was established here.
The marriage of Mr. Dillon to Miss Nellie Hudelson occurred on November 17, 1889. She is the daughter of Joseph A. Hudelson, who came to Franklin county from Indiana in early days and still lives on his farm in this county. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Dillon has been blessed in the birth of four children, all of whom are in school. Joseph and Dorothy are high school students, while Richard W. and Nellie C. attend in the lower grades. Mrs. Dillon is a member of the Baptist church.
In fraternal circles both Mr. and Mrs. Dillon are prominent, being
members of the Eastern Star order and Shriners. Mr. Dillon is a member of the Masonic order and is a past master of Benton Lodge, No. 64. He is a man whose attainments and position fit him for leadership among his fellows, and he has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, by whom he is held in the highest respect and esteem.