Christiana and John Tillson moved from Massachusetts to central Illinois in 1822. Upon arriving in Montgomery County near what would soon be Hillsboro, they set up a general store and real estate business and began to raise a family.
A half century later, Christiana Tillson wrote about her early days in Illinois in a memoir published by R. R. Donnelley in 1919. In it she describes her husband’s rise to wealth through the speculative land boom during the 1820s and 1830s and his loss of fortune when the land business went bust after the Specie Circular was issued in 1836.
The Tillsons lived quite ordinary lives in extraordinary times, notes Kay J. Carr, introducing this edition. Their views and sensibilities, Carr says, might seem strange to us, but they were entirely normal to people in the early nineteenth century. Thus Tillson’s memoir provides vignettes of ordinary nineteenth-century American life.