The ancestors of the Illinois family of this name were early pioneers of
Ohio, settled in Licking county. In 1851 the grandparents of our subject
removed to St. Paul, Minnesota, and entered four hundred and eighty acres of
government land in Anoka county. The grandmother, whose failing health had
caused the removal to the northwest, died there in 1852, but her husband
long survived her, his death occurring in West Virginia in 1883, when he was
more than eighty years old. He left a son, William O. B. Wilson, who
remained with his parents on the Ohio farm until 1850, when he married Mary
Margaret Seymour, when they settled on a rented farm and worked it until
1853. Deciding then that they could improve their fortunes by going farther
west, they emigrated to Illinois in wagons and encountered the usual
hardships of traveling overland. Purchasing eighty acres of land in German
township, Richland county, some years were spent in its improvement. Later,
forty acres additional of timber was bought, and from this the rails were
cut and split for building fences and necessary dwelling and out houses. In
1861, Mr. Wilson enlisted in Company E, Eleventh Regiment Missouri Volunteer
Infantry, commanded by Captain Levinson, of Olney, Illinois. After serving a
year an attack of erysipelas compelled him to return home on a furlough.
After returning to the army at the end of sixty days there was a relapse,
necessitating his removal to the hospital at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where
he died and was buried February, 1862. His wife died June 24, 1861, shortly
before his enlistment in the Union army. They had four children, of whom
only two grew to maturity.
William H. Wilson, one of the survivors of the family, was born in Licking county, Ohio, March 18, 1853, and was consequently about nine years old when he became an orphan at the death of his father. He went to live with his mother's parents, who had come to Illinois in 1852, and settled on a rented farm in Richland county. In 1859 they purchased eighty acres of land in Lawrence county and it was here that their orphaned grandchild joined them. The grandmother died at the age of sixty-eight years and her husband survived until 1872, when he passed away at the age of seventy years. This venerable couple were buried in Wagoner cemetery by the side of their daughter. At the death of his grandfather, Mr. Wilson was nineteen years old and removed to Allen county, Kansas, but after a few months went back to Illinois. In 1874 he again took up his abode in Kansas, but eventually returned to his old home, residing a while in Lawrence county, but eventually taking up his permanent residence in Richland. He has prospered in his undertakings as the result of hard work and good management. He owns eighty acres of well improved land as good as the best in Claremont township besides thirty-five acres in Minnesota, inherited from his grandfather.
March 18th, Mr. Wilson was married to Phoebe Miller, who was born in Carroll county, Ohio, January 18, 1856. Her parents were Jacob and Phoebe (Lewis) Miller, natives of Ohio, who came to Illinois in 1864, and settled in Richland county, where the latter died December 6, 1891, and her husband November 27, 1894, aged seventysix years. They had nine children, all of whom are still living, Mrs. Wilson being the sixth in order of birth. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have five children: Charles, Clifford, Clyde, Cloy and Cora. The first two mentioned are married and both are prosperous farmers in Claremont township. The other three children, one son and two daughters, still remain with their parents. Mr. Wilson is a member of Amity Lodge, Court of Honor, in German township. Though not a member he attends services at the Methodist church and is interested in all good works undertaken by the denomination. In politics he is a Republican and takes an active interest in all local campaigns. His first Presidential vote was cast for Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, when he was twenty-three years old. Mr. Wilson has a comfortable home and an excellent farm which he has made by dint of much toil and trials that come to farmers.
Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 394-395.