The history of a county or state, as well as that of a nation, is chiefly a chronicle of the lives and deeds of those who have conferred honor and dignity upon society. The world judges the character of a community by those of its representative citizens and yields its tributes of admiration and respect to those whose works and actions constitute the record of the communitys prosperity and pride. Among the prominent citizens of Hancock county, Indiana, who are known throughout the county by reason of the prominent part they have taken in public affairs is Benjamin F. Wilson, and the biographer takes great pleasure in presenting the more important facts concerning his life career.
Benjamin F. Wilson is a native of the county in which he now lives, having first seen the light of day in Brandywine township on the 26th day of February, 1839. His parents were Holbert and Amanda (Fry) Wilson, both born in Bourbon county, Kentucky, he in 1801. Holbert Wilson was early deprived by death of parental care and attention and was reared by Abraham Fry. At the early age of sixteen he left his native state and went to Rush county, Indiana. There he learned the cabinet-makers trade and pursued that occupation for five years. He then came to Hancock county and located upon a farm. He cleared some of the land and built a house, but in 1836 left that place and located in section 13, Brandywine township, on a tract of one hundred and sixty acres. This was at that time all wild and unimproved land, was heavily covered with timber and wild game was in abundance. He made this place his home during the remainder of his life, dying there in 1876; his wife had preceded him to the spirit world many years, her death occurring in 1850. He was an active and earnest supporter of the Democratic party, but never sought nor could he be induced to accept public office. He and his wife were faithful members of the Baptist church. Their children are briefly mentioned as follows: James T., of Center township, this county, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this volume: William F. is a prominent and successful farmer in Brandywine township; Benjamin F. is the immediate subject of this review; Sarah Jane, deceased, was the wife of John Q. White, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this volume; John W. married Mary Sylvester, but both are now deceased; Mary Isabelle, deceased, was the wife of John W. Kelly, now residing in Center township; Jemima Ann, deceased, was the wife of William P. White, of Greenfield. The children were all given such limited education as was afforded in the old-fashioned log school house of that period.
Benjamin F. Wilson was early put to work on the pioneer farm and became inured to the arduous toil incident to the creating of a home in the midst of the wilderness. And labor it was in the fullest sense of the word. From early dawn until sundown, a never-ceasing round of work. But such work was absolutely necessary in those days and the results are enjoyed by the generation of today. The subject remained at home until he had attained his majority, when, in 1861, he started to carve out his own fortune. He first located on a tract in Brandywine township which he rented for five years. Then for three years he rented land belonging to his brothers, James T. and William F. Upon the expiration of this lease he purchased forty acres of land in section 11, Center township, but after a years residence there sold it and bought eighty acres in section12. This latter tract had some improvements upon it and he remained upon it from 1860 to 1873, when he sold it and purchased his present place of two hundred and thirty-two acres in sections 13 and 18, Brandywine township. This tract was formerly known as the Abbott homestead and was but partially improved when Mr. Wilson took possession of it. However, he energetically went to work and brought the place up to such a degree of excellence that is now considered to be one of the best farms in the township. To properly drain the land it was necessary to lay over fifty-two thousand tiles, requiring much labor and expense. Mr. Wilson has engaged very extensively in hog raising and has found it a profitable industry. He has now on his farm about three hundred hogs of the Poland China breed and other live stock usually found on a well-appointed farm. Besides the varied interests already mentioned, Mr. Wilson has for thirty-eight years run a threshing machine, clearing up not only his own grain, but that of many of his neighbors. Two years of this period, 1883-84, he operated a grist-mill in Palestine.
On the 21st of April, 1861, Benjamin F. Wilson was united in marriage with Miss Lucinda Thomas, of Brandywine township, the daughter of Horace and Elizabeth Thomas. Her parents were early settlers of Hancock county, having arrived here at about the same time as did his parents. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are as follows: Thomas J., who is a prominent and successful dentist at Colfax, Clinton county, Indiana, was educated at Danville, Illinois, and Terre Haute, Indiana, and married Miss. A. P. Card; Andrew J.., who married Miss Sarah Larrabee, is a farmer and carpenter at Carrollton; Holbert F., who married a Miss Burke, is a farmer and succeeds his father in operating a threshing machine; Elizabeth is the wife of Edward J. Reisdorf, a book dealer at Danville, Illinois; Amanda is the wife of Thomas A. Kramer, of Sugar Creek township; Rebecca is the wife of Henry Rasener, of Center township; Benjamin L. died at the age of ten years; Della May married James McClure and is living at Philadelphia, this county; John W. is a school teacher and married Crystal Botsford; Gertrude is the wife of H. C. Duncan, of Philadelphia. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have wisely seen to it that their children all secured good practical educations and they have all grown to honorable manhood and womanhood.
Politically the subject of this sketch has throughout life been a stanch and uncompromising Democrat and has been active in the campaign work of his party, being often found in its councils. In return for this devotion his party honored him with the nomination for the office of county commissioner, to which office he was chosen in 1890. So eminently satisfactory were his services in this responsible position that before the expiration of his first term he was elected to succeed himself. He filled the office from 1891 to 1897 and was heartily commended by all citizens, regardless of party, for the manner in which he conducted the affairs of the county. Always in favor of all needed improvements, he took an active interest in the building of the new court house, which cost, including outside improvements, tow hundred and sixty thousand dollars. His colleagues in this service were Aquilla Grist and Wm. M. Thomas, John Mauchey succeeding Mr. Grist. Religiously Mrs. Wilson is a faithful and consistent member of the Methodist Protestant church and is ever ready to assist in the good work of the congregation with which she worships. Mr. Wilson has recently left the farm, his present residence being on South Street in Greenfield, though still giving his farming interests a general supervision.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 373-375.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI October 24, 2002.
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