Aside from some photographs and scant biographic information, little else ties John Reed Hilliard to the city he is credited for founding.
But the Northwest Franklin County Historical Society recently added a relic connected to the founder who never lived here: a stock certificate John Reed Hilliard signed Dec. 16, 1868, 15 years after the founding of Hilliard in 1853.
"We're thrilled to have it," said Ben Buoni, membership chairman of the historical society. "It's the only thing we have signed by him."
The document is at the historical society's library at Norwich and Columbia streets. The library will be open 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 7 and 14 in conjunction with holiday-related events but it otherwise is open by appointment only by calling 614-876-5880.
For information, visit the the Northwest Franklin County Historical Society website, franklincountyohiohistory.org.
Hilliard resident Bruce Muraco, 47, came across the stock certificate while in pursuit of his passion of collecting military and law-enforcement memorabilia. He bought it online about two years ago and framed it.
"I thought my wife (Hilliard police officer Suzanne Muraco) might like it for her office," Muraco said.
But she didn't use it in her office, and the document ended up in their basement.
Two months ago, Muraco met Leon Boucher during Heritage Days at Weaver Park. Upon learning that Hilliard had few personal items associated with its founder, he decided an appropriate place for it would be in the society's museum.
Boucher invited the Muracos to a meeting of the historical society last month to formally present the gift.
"I had it for years in my basement," Muraco said. "There probably couldn't be a better place for it than to have it somewhere where people can see something related to our city's history."
The 1868 stock certificate says Hilliard purchased 30 shares, at $100 each, of the Columbus, Chicago and Indiana Railway. The document indicates he sold the shares for a profit about a month later.
"He was a real entrepreneur," Muraco said.
Hilliard's previous investments led to the establishment of the Norwich Township railroad stop for the Columbus, Piqua and Indiana Railroad. The town grew around the stop.
The Hilliard community's original name was Hilliard's Station. It then became Hilliards, a pluralizing of the name that lasted well into the 20th century.
Hilliard himself was a resident of Piqua in western Ohio.
Buoni said there is no evidence Hilliard ever resided in the community that bears his name.
After founding Hilliard, John Reed Hilliard continued his railroad-related investments while living in Piqua. He died in 1901 at the age of 79.