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."