Sunday, April 29, 2012

Francello George Jillson (1841-1912)

From the Representative Men and Families of Rhode Island, Volume III.

   This oddly named public servant is one Francello George Jillson, a man long prominent in 19th century Rhode Island politics. During the course of his life Jillson served in a number of public posts, including 3 terms as Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and later was named a municipal judge for the city of Providence. In addition to his political and judicial activities, Jillson also distinguished himself on the battlefield during the Civil War, serving under the command of Ambrose E. Burnside.
   Francello G. Jillson was born on September 22, 1841 in Woonsocket, the son of Allen Bennett and Abby Hunt Jillson. He attended schools local to the Woonsocket area and later studied at the New London Literary an Scientific Institution.  During his studies Jillson began a teaching career in New London, Connecticut and continued in this vocation until the outbreak of the Civil War.  Soon after the firing on Fort Sumter, Jillson enlisted as a Corporal in the First Rhode Island Detached Militia. He served in this unit until August of 1861 and in the following year was made a First Lieutenant in Company G of the newly formed Ninth Rhode Island Regiment. 
  Jillson's service in the military concluded in September 1862 and soon after returning to Woonsocket resumed his teaching career, serving schools in both Blackstone and Woonsocket. He would serve as superintendent of schools in the town of Cumberland, and in 1864 he began pursuing a career in law. Over the course of that year he studied in law offices located in New Hampshire and in Massachusetts, including one under the tutelage of future U.S. Senator George Frisby Hoar. In February 1865 Jillson passed the bar exam and shortly thereafter became clerk of the Woonsocket Court of Magistrates. Jillson later was named as town clerk of Woonsocket, serving in this position until the mid 187os. In 1868 Jillson married Ms. Emma Potter, a Burrillville, Rhode Island resident, and one son was eventually born to the couple, Francello Albert Jillson (1869-1896).
   While still serving as town clerk Jillson was elected to the Rhode Island State Senate, serving from 1870-1871. At the conclusion of his senate term he returned to his earlier law practice and in 1876 was elected to a one year term as the President of the Woonsocket Town Council. As his political career continued to rise, Jillson's name also became prominent in Woonsocket civic affairs. During the 1870s and 80s he served as a trustee of the Harris Institute and was later secretary of the Woonsocket Hospital for a number of years.
   Francello Jillson reemerged on the Rhode Island political scene in 1880 when he was named as President of the Republican State Convention. The following year he was elected to the Rhode Island State House of Representatives, and during the course of the next few sessions would serve as its Speaker in the years 1883, 1884 and 1885. 



    Following the conclusion of his last term in the house,  Jillson returned to active involvement in the civic affairs of Woonsocket, being a founding member of the city's Water Works Company (including drafting the company charter) as well as serving on the Board of State Charities and Corrections. Long an active Mason in Woonsocket, Jillson was honored as a past grand high priest of the M.E. Grand Chapter of Rhode Island. 
   In 1910 Jillson resumed political office when he was appointed to the judgeship of the Municipal Court of Providence, holding his seat until his death on November 6, 1912. Jillson had earlier been stricken with pneumonia in October 1912 while still on the bench, and later succumbed to blood poisoning following the initial onset of pneumonia. Jillson was survived by his wife Emma and was subsequently buried in Woonsocket, although an exact cemetery name couldn't be found at the time of this writing. 
   The portrait of Jillson shown above was featured in his obituary, originally published in the Providence Evening News on November 7, 1912. A portion of that obituary has been provided below.

                                                                       From the Providence Evening News.

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