Death of John Tilley

by Laurel | February 15th, 2012

15 February 1912

John Tilley

John Tilley

Well-Known Merchant Passes Away After Long Illness

John Tilley, 78, died at his home on Northampton Street yesterday morning , after a long illness. Mr. Tilley had been in failing health for the past three years, but had been able to attend to a large part of his business up to about three weeks ago, since which time he failed rapidly until the end.

Mr. Tilley was well known in Western Massachusetts and was one of the pioneer furniture dealers of Holyoke, settling in the city 42 years ago, where he built up a large business He was born in Granby, February 13, 1834, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Tilley, and was one of a family of eight children. He received his early education in the town schools, later attending Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham. When 20 years of age he entered the employ of a hat shop in Medway and a year later established a show of his own in Hartford, CT. This venture not proving a paying one, he returned to Granby, and with his brother bought and carried on the farm until the opening of the civil war, when he enlisted in Co II, 52d Massachusetts regiment and was elected a corporal.

At the expiration of his term of enlistment in 1862, he returned and located in South Hadley Falls, where he remained until 1870, when he moved to Holyoke and opened a furniture store on Main street. The trend of business being toward the hill, he moved to High street about 24 years ago, where he bought the block next to the Steiger store, and continued in business until about 1907, when he built the large block at Suffolk and Maple Streets, where the firm has since been located, the present building being one of the largest in this section of the state used exclusively for the sale of furniture.

John Tilley Furniture, High Street, Holyoke

John Tilley Furniture, High Street, Holyoke

Mr. Tilley had been interested in many other lines of business, having been connected with the People’s Savings Bank from the time of its incorporation in 1885. In 1901, on the resignation of William Skinner as president of the bank, Mr. Tilley was elected and served as president until May 10, 1909, when he was compelled to resign owing to continued ill health. He has served on the bank’s first board of trustees and was vice-president from the beginning. At the time of his death he was a director in the Home national bank. In politics he was a republican and although not active politically in recent years it is recalled that while in Granby he won an election to the General Court on the republican ticket in a normally democratic district. He was essentially a home man and belonged to but one social organization, the Bat State Club.

He was married November 27, 1860, to Miss Mary E. Preston, the couple celebrating their golden wedding two years ago. He leaves, besides his widow, two sons, Clifton F. and Trenor P. Tilley, both of whom were associated with their father in business. He also leaves two brothers, Norris of South Hadley, and Clarence of Granby, and a sister, Mrs. Edward Preston of South Hadley. The funeral will be held at his late home, 181 Northampton Street, tomorrow afternoon, Rev. H. O. Hannum of the First Congregational Church conducting the service. The burial will be in the family lot in the cemetery at Granby.

Mr. Tilley was a man of rare judgement, quiet and unassuming, in fact he was far out of the common in grasping a subject and far seeing in planning to carry it through. He was easily approachable and unpretentious, friendly with every one he met and easily making and keeping friends. He was highly esteemed in the city and his loss will be keenly felt, both in Holyoke and in other places where he had been well known for so many years.

From The Springfield Republican, image of furniture from my Holyoke collection.

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