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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
George T. Wilson


SCOTSMEN always have had a genius for finance and insurance. This genius they brought with them to America, and from Colonial times scarcely any financial institution of importance has been complete without its large proportion of Scottish element and Scottish spirit. The vast development of the insurance business in America shows from the beginning many notable names of Scottish origin, and no one of these leaders has attained more enviable success or is more worthy of note than George T. Wilson, who from the very bottom has risen to a high place in the insurance world.

Mr. Wilson was born in New York City, September 23, 1859, the son of John Cochran and Eliza Macgregor Wilson. Both his parents were Scots: his father was born in Edinburgh, his father’s mother a Cochran; his mother, a Macgregor, was born in Belfast, of Scottish parents. Mr. Wilson was educated in the New York public schools and at the College of the City of New York, and was graduated in the class of 1875. Princeton University conferred on him the Honorary Degree of Master of Arts in 1892.

He is a notable example of success attained through industry and loyalty. He began work as an office boy, at a salary of three dollars a week, with the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, in June, 1875, later becoming general utility man in the company’s office. He did not possess the "pull" that so many consider essential to success in any large business; but by constant study and close application to the most minor details of this great organization, he was soon the indispensible man in every department with which he was connected. A close observer, he decided that the best way for him to obtain advancement was to become a shorthand writer. Having mastered stenography, his natural ability, a magnetic personality and hard work brought him rapid promotion. He was secretary to James W. Alexander, President of the Equitable Society, afterward executive secretary, second assistant secretary, and fourth, third and second Vice-President——the last of which offices he holds with notable ability at the present time. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Society since 1892, and has a remarkable hold on the agency force, being one of the best handlers of men in the country. The fortieth anniversary of his service with the Society, June 4, 1915, was celebrated at a dinner given in his honour at the Union League Club, at which he was presented by the principal managers and agents of the Equitable in the United States with a beautiful Sevres vase of the Louis XV Period. The foreign agents presented him with a set of gold plate. He is also a director of the American Surety Company, the Union Exchange National Bank, and the Equitable Trust Company.

With his vast business responsibilities, Mr. Wilson has found time to interest himself actively in all that makes for the better life of the community. He is a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Gardens and the New York Zoological Society, which offer such liberal opportunities of education and recreation to old and young. He is also a member of a large number of clubs and societies that reflect the liberality of his tastes and the variety of his interests, among others: the St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York, the Pilgrims (of which he was a founder and is Vice-President and Chairman of the Executive Committee), St. George’s Society, New England Society, Japan Society, Pan-American Society, France-America Society, New York Chamber of Commerce, Merchants Association of New York, American Chamber of Commerce in Paris (France), and of the following clubs: Metropolitan, Union League, Princeton, New York Yacht, Lawyers’ (of which he is a life-member), Bankers’ (of which he is Vice-President and Chairman of the Executive Committee), Knollwood Country Club (of which he is President), Sleepy Hollow Country Club; Nassau and University Cottage Clubs, Princeton, N. J.; Bath Club, London (England); and American Club, Paris (France). He is always a welcome and eloquent after-dinner speaker. Several of his addresses have been published and extensively circulated.

Mr. Wilson married, January 9, 1884, Miss Charlotte Elizabeth Todd, daughter of James Mandeville and Elizabeth Blake Todd, of Watertown, N. Y. They have three daughters: Elsie Charlotte, Alice Demorest (now Mrs. Porter Clyde Shannon), and Janet Macgregor. Mr. Wilson, with his family, travels extensively and the international importance of his business has made him well and favorably known in European capitals. He is a trustee of the Central Presbyterian Church, New York, and President of the Mens Club of the church; a trustee of Flower Hospital and a member of the Advisory Board of the Volunteer Hospital. Mr. Wilson ‘s country residence is Harrison, N. Y.; his city residence, 1 West 81st Street; his business address, 120 Broadway, New York City.


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