Descended from sturdy pioneer ancestry and inheriting the patriotic fervor for which a number of his antecedents were noted, the gentleman whose name introduces this sketch is entitled to prominent notice among the representative citizens of Hancock county. The Wilson family originated in Ireland and was represented in America as early as the colonial period. While en route to the new world, and yet on the ocean, the subjects great-grandmother gave birth to a son and after reaching their destination she and her husband settled in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania. They were among the earliest pioneers of that part of the Keystone state, their arrival antedating by some years the war for independence. Later they located near Pittsburg and as the population increased in that section they came further west until reaching Brown county, Ohio, where they made a home which long remained in possession of the family. They died there many years ago and are remembered as among the early permanent settlers in that part of the state.
The son born on the ocean was Samuel Wilson; he grew to maturity in Pennsylvania and when a young man accompanied his parents to Brown county, Ohio. While living in Pennsylvania he married a Miss Campbell, who bore him nine children, namely: James, Elizabeth, Samuel, Robert, Isabelle, Sarah, Jane, Jacob and Campbell, all long since dead. About the year 1835 Samuel Wilson moved his family to Hancock county, Indiana, and located a home in section 23, Center township. He was one of the first white men to settle in that part of the county and many are the anecdotes related of his skill as a huntsman and prowess as a pioneer. He was a typical backwoodsman of the age in which he lived, strong and lithe of body bold and independent of spirit, capable of enduring all kinds of hardships and vicissitudes without murmur or complaint. He cleared and improved a great deal of land, became a good farmer and after living a long and useful life and providing well for his family, quietly passed into the great unknown, leaving to his descendants a fair name and an unblemished character.
James Wilson, oldest son of Samuel, was born in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, and when a lad of about fourteen went with the family to Ohio. In his youth he worked on a flatboat plying between the cities of Pittsburg and St. Louis and when his parents moved to Ohio he assisted them to make the journey down the river in tow canoes lashed together, the lad managing one of the boats. He remained for some years on the old homestead in Brown county and in addition to agricultural pursuits worked for a while at teaming, a vocation which proved quite remunerative before the days of railroad traffic.
In the year 1839 James Wilson decided to join his parents in the new Indiana country. Meantime he succeeded in accumulating considerable property, the greater part of which he converted into money; the remainder he loaded on two wagons, to each of which were hitched three horses, and thus equipped the journey was made. Reaching Hancock county he settled on one hundred and sixty acres of land in section 10, Buck Creek township, a part of which is now occupied by the village of Mohawk, the rest being in possession of his, the subject of this review, who holds the original patent issued by the government. It is proper in this connection to state that Mr. Wilson made a tour of the country prior to moving hither and being pleased with his prospect located the above claim and erected thereon a small cabin for the reception of his family when they should arrive. This was as early as 1835 and the patent was obtained as soon thereafter as it could be forwarded from the land office at the national capital.
Mr. Wilson added to his original purchase and became one of the progressive farmers of the county. He was successful in all of his undertakings and amassed a handsome competence, much of which is still in possession of his children. The maiden name of his wife was Katherine Flaugher; she was a native of Brown county, Ohio, and became the mother of the following children; Mahala, widow of the late James A. Murphy, of Buck Creek township; Henry died at Nashville, Tennessee, while in the army; Thursy, deceased; Adam F., of this review; Maria, deceased; Clementine, widow of Charles Wallsmith; Naomi, deceased; Marian married M. W. Deshong and lives on the home farm; Allie and Eliza J., the last two dead.
As a man and citizen, James Wilson was very popular; his character was always above reproach and the honesty of his motives was never questioned. Politically he was an ardent Democrat; religiously he was a t first a Methodist and later a member of the United Brethren church.
Adam F. Wilson was born near the town of Ripley, Brown county, Ohio, December 11, 1836. Reared in Hancock county and in a comparatively new and undeveloped country, he was not permitted to enjoy the educational privileges which fell to farm boys a few decades later, his whole time being taken up with the labor required to fit his fathers farm for cultivation. He remained at home until his twenty-ninth year when he was joined in matrimony to Miss Elizabeth J. Lain, the ceremony which made the two man and wife being solemnized January 17, 1864. Mrs. Wilson was born in Bartholomew county, Indiana, daughter of Jacob and Sarah Lain, natives of North -----
years prior to his marriage Mr. Wilson entered the army, enlisting July 4, 1861, in Company B., Eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and serving with an honorable record until discharged on the 29th of April, 1863. He shared with his comrades the fortunes and disasters of war and was in a number of noted campaigns, proving his loyalty to the stars and stripes on some of the bloodiest battlefields of the south. By reason of disability he did not serve his full time, returning home nearly a year before the expiration of his period of enlistment.
Mr. Wilson lived on the home farm until 1896, when he moved to his present place in Center township, known for many years as the Barnard farm. He owns two farms of two hundred and twenty acres of fine land, which is well improved with good buildings, fences and drainage, the advanced condition of the places indicating the labor and care devoted to them by the enterprising owner. Mr. Wilson has followed agricultural pursuits all of his life and for a number of years has ranked with the most enterprising and successful farmers and stock raisers of the county. In the year 1882 he platted the town of Mohawk and from 1883 to 1894 inclusive was engaged in merchandising and grain dealing there, in addition to which he also operated a saw-mill for several years. He was the first postmaster of Mohawk and in various ways has contributed to the growth and development of the village, which promises to become one of the leading local trading points in the county at no distant day.
Mr. Wilson has seen Hancock county grow from a sparsely settled county into one of the most prosperous and thriving sections of central Indiana; he remembers when wild game of all kinds was plentiful and when a youth many deer, wild turkeys and other denizens of the forests fell before his unerring rifle. He also recalls the period when people found their way through the dense woods by means of blazed trees and went to mill and market on horseback instead of with vehicles as is the custom today. Bears and wolves often prowled round the little log cabin in which his childhood and youth were spent and not infrequently has he seen these animals waiting for a favorable opportunity to attack cattle or invade the barnyard.
In all the wonderful transformations which have taken place since he was a boy Mr. Wilson has been no mere spectator, but an active and potent factor in bringing about results such as now exist. He has given freely of his time and energy for the general good and hesitated not when necessary to contribute liberally by his influence and means to promote the material interests of the township and county.
Mr. Wilson comes of patriotic stock, several of his ancestors having borne distinguished parts in the early American wars, while seven of his mothers uncles took part in the noted battle of New Orleans. He proved his loyalty to the flag by facing the hosts of treason in many sanguinary contests and in civil life has demonstrated in his own experience, to the best of his ability, his highest ideal of American citizenship. In politics he is a supporter of the Democratic party, but has never consented to accept official position nor aspired to public distinction. He has been satisfied to pursue the even tenor of his way as a farmer and business man, doing good in a quiet and unostentatious manner when opportunity presented itself and living up to the full stature of manhood as an active factor in the body politic.
He finds in his home and in the society of his amiable wife a solace for all the cares and ills of life, which happily for him are few and those few under circumstances quite easily endured. Mr. Wilson is a member of the Untied Brethren church, as is also his wife, both being active members of the congregation with which they worship; fraternally he belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic, holding membership with the post at Fortville. Mr. Wilsons family consists of one son, Ulysses G. Wilson, who is a farmer and horseman and is the present trustee of Buck Creek township, living at Mohawk.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 355-358.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI August 3, 2002.
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