Biography of James M. Wilson
Washington County, IA Biographies





James M. Wilson is widely known as a breeder and raiser of Shorthorn cattle, being a prominent representative of the live stock interests of this section of the state. His landed possessions are also valuable, his home farm comprising two hundred and forty acres of rich and arable land. He has now traveled life's journey for seventy six years, his birth having occurred in Licking county, Ohio, on the 4th of May, 1833. His parents were Robert and Elizabeth (Crawford) Wilson, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of County Down, Ireland. In her childhood days Elizabeth Crawford came to the new world with her parents, the year 1810 witnessing the emigration of the family, who chose Coshocton county, Ohio, as a place of residence. The parents of Robert Wilson removed from Pennsylvania to Muskingum county, Ohio, in 1817 and it was there that Robert Wilson and Elizabeth Crawford became acquainted and were married. They began their domestic life in Muskingum county, where they lived for eight years and then removed to Licking county, Ohio, where they resided until 1860. In that year they took up their abode upon a farm which Mr. Wilson owned in Knox county, Ohio, and to its further development and improvement he devoted his energies until his death, which occurred in 1874 when he was seventy three years of age. His wife died in 1889 at the age of eighty one years, having survived him for fifteen years. In his political views Robert Wilson was a stalwart democrat in early life but as the question of slavery became a paramount one he espoused the cause of freedom and in 1844 became affiliated with the abolitionists. Subsequently when the republican party was formed to prevent the further extension of slavery he joined its ranks and was ever afterward an ardent advocate of its principles. He served as township trustee and was also justice of the peace for a number of years, in which position his decisions were strictly fair and impartial, winning him golden opinions from all sorts of people. He was one of the most influential men in his section, leaving the impress of his individuality for good upon the public life of the community. Both he and his wife were consistent and faithful members of the United Presbyterian church, displaying in their lives the force of those doctrines which promulgate kindliness, charity and helpfulness.

James M. Wilson, whose name introduces this review, was reared under the parental roof, accompanying his parents on their various removals in Ohio. He acquired his education in the common schools and in the Martinsburg College at Martinsburg, Ohio. Subsequently he engaged in teaching school through eight or ten winter terms, while the summer months were devoted to work on the farm. Carefully saving his earnings, Mr. Wilson eventually was enabled to purchase property, investing in one hundred and sixty acres of land in Licking county, Ohio, in 1859. He then settled on that farm and with characteristic energy began to till the fields and improve the property. He made it his home until 1865, when he sold out and removed to Champaign county, Illinois, where he lived for three years. In 1868 he arrived in Washington county, Iowa, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of his present farm, lying in Seventy Six township. Upon this property he has since made his home with the exception of a short period of three years spent in Keota. In 1895 he purchased eighty acres adjoining his home farm, having in all two hundred and forty acres of rich and productive land which responds readily to the care and labor he bestows upon it. Here he breeds and raises shorthorn cattle and since 1901 has been feeding all of his grain. In his stock raising interests he has been quite successful and is now numbered among the substantial farmers of the county.

In 1858 Mr. Wilson was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Saunders, of Licking county, Ohio, and unto them were born five children, of whom two are living: Jennie A., who is assistant principal of the Keota (Iowa) schools; and Robert O., living on the home farm. The wife and mother passed away in 1888 and in 1895 Mr. Wilson was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Randolph, who in her maidenhood was Miss Mary Reed, of Webster, Iowa.

Mr. Wilson exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the republican party and keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day, so that he is ever able to support his position by intelligent argument. He served for twelve years as township trustee and his frequent reelection to that office is proof positive of the capability which he displayed in discharging his duties. He and his wife are devoted and faithful members of the United Presbyterian church, doing all in their power to promote its growth and Mr. Wilson has been an elder in the church for more than a quarter of a century. His integrity is above question and if there are mistakes in his life it is not a matter of intention. He has always endeavored to live peaceably with his fellowmen and to do right on all occasions and his record may well serve as an example for others.

From:
History of Washington County, Iowa
From the First White Settlement to 1908
Vol II
BY: Howard A. Burrell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1909


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