William Freeman Vilas
  • Former home on E. Gilman Street.
  • Wife Anna Matilda Fox
  • Came to Madison from Vermont in 1851 with his father Levi B. Vilas.
  • Graduated from The University of Wisconsin in 1858 ranked first in his class.
  • As a captain in the 23rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, he saw action at the Battle of Vicksburg.
        His statue was placed on the battlefield in 1913 by Anna.
  • After the war became a law professor at the UW from 1868 to 1885.
  • Served as postmaster general and secretary of the interior from 1885 to 1889.
  • US Senator 1891 to 1897
  • In later years he was a UW regent.
  • Built Cornelia Vilas Guild Hall in Grace Episcopal Church.
  • William & Anna donated $18,000 to The Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association in 1904 for
        Vilas Park to be named in honor of their son Henry, who died of diabetes, in his early 20s.
  • He gifted a large portion of his estate to the UW upon his death in 1908 specifying "at least one-fifth
        of the scholarships were going to go to Negroes".
  • Vilas family interred in Forest Hill Cemetery.
  • Vilas Road named in Williams honor.
  • Vilas County, Wisconsin is named for William.
  • A close friend of President Grover Cleveland.

    October 7--10, 1887 "President and Mrs. Cleveland visit, stay with U.S. Postmaster-General William F. Vilas at his 12 E. Gilman street mansion."