William WILSON (1801, Crieff
- 1860, Poughkeepsie, New York) and his son, James Grant WILSON (April 28,
1832, Edinburgh – February 1, 1914, New York)
A Scotsman of Edinburgh by birth, James Grant WILSON (April 28, 1832 –
February 1, 1914) became an American Colonel in the Union Army during the
Civil War, and later a distinguished editor, and author.
James was the eldest son of
William WILSON (1801-1860), a native of Crieff, Perthshire, a publisher-poet
and his wife Jane SIBBALD of Wilton, Roxburhshire. William and Jane
emigrated to the USA c. 1835 with their then two children James and Agnes.
Siblings George, Margaret, Mary and Walter were later born in the family
home in Poughkeepsie City, Dutchess County, New York State.
It is probable that one
reason for their emigration was the fact that William was a kinsman of the
Hon. James Wilson of Pennsylvania.
It is said of William in the book 'THE SCOT IN AMERICA' by Peter Ross, L.L.
D. (1896) .....
"William Wilson, bookbinder
and bookseller, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is still remembered as a pleasing
writer, some of whose songs will long keep his memory green and give him a
place in American literature. He was born at Crieff in 1801. His father
having died in infancy, William began, at the age of seven years, the hard
battle of life by being sent to help in herding sheep, and when fourteen
years of age was apprenticed to a "cloth lapper" in Glasgow. He afterward
removed to Dundee, where he varied the tedium of his trade by contributing
to the local papers. Then he went to Edinburgh, where he was enabled to
start in business as a dealer in coal. In 1833 he emigrated to the United
States, and, a year later, settled in Poughkeepsie, where he conducted a
book business successfully until his death, in 1860. His son, James Grant
Wilson, has done good literary work as editor of several important
publications, as well as by much original writing.
William Wilson's poems have
twice been published, and received very considerate treatment at the hands
of the critics. One of them wrote: "He was a genuine son of song, and his
genius is deserving of even wider recognition than it receives at present.
Simplicity and kindness are his greatest characteristics, and are shown in
every line he writes. He is earnest and direct in his teaching, and whether
singing the praises of his native land or the glories of the land in which
he died, whether mourning beside the grave of a loved one, or warbling
Stanzas to a Child, the hearty, whole-souled character of the man shines
1850 United States Federal
Name: William Wilson [Merchant- Publisher]
Estimated birth year: abt 1802
Birth Place: Scotland
Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York
William Wilson 48 Birth Place: Scotland
Jane Wilson 43 Wife Birth Place: Scotland
James Wilson 18 Son Birth Place: Scotland *****
Agnes Wilson 17 Daughter Birth Place: Scotland
George Wilson 12 Birth Place: NY Son
Margaret Wilson 10 Daughter Birth Place: NY
Mary Wilson 8 Daughter Birth Place:NY
Walter Wilson 6 Birth Place:NY Son
Colonel James Grant WILSON was for long a prominent figure in the literary
life of the USA. He not only had a distinguished war record and a recognised
standing as an author and historian, but he possessed several interesting
personal relics of Lincoln, Grant and Washington, and his informal talks and
lectures on these great characters, two of whom were his personal friends,
will be long remembered.
It is recorded that his early
education was chiefly by private tutors and through travel in Europe. From
New York City he moved to Illinois where, in 1857, he founded the Chicago
Recorded, a journal of art and literature. He then entered the Union Army
late in 1862 as a major of the 15th Illinois Cavalry, commanded the 4th
U.S.C. Cavalry as colonel, and left the Army in 1865 as a brevet Brigadier
After the Civil War, in 1869,
he married Jane Emily Searle COGSWELL of East Windsor Hill, Hartford,
Connecticut and they settled with children in due course in New York where
James became a well-known speaker, a frequent contributor to periodicals,
president of the Society of American Authors, and, after 1885, of the New
York Genealogical and Biographical Society. He edited Fitz-Greene Halleck's
Poems (1868); A Memorial History of the City of New York (four volumes,
1892–93); Appleton's Cyclopœdia of American Biography (six volumes, 1887–89,
with John Fiske; volume vii, 1900), an excellent book of reference; The
Great Commanders Series (eighteen volumes, completed 1913); The Presidents
of the United States, 1789-1914 (four volumes, 1914), the work of many
James died on February 1,
1914 in New York City and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.
Selected works of James Grant
Biographical Sketches of
Illinois Officers (1862–63)
Life of Fitz-Greene Halleck (1869)
Sketches of Illustrious Soldiers (1874)
Centennial History of the
Diocese of New York, 1775-1885 (1886)
Bryant and his Friends (1886)
Commodore Isaac Hull and the Frigate Constitution (1889)
Wilson, James Grant (1893). The Memorial History of the City of New York:
From Its First Settlement to the Year 1892. New York History Co..
Love in Letters (1896)
Life of General Grant (1897)
Thackeray in the United States (two volumes, 1904)
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