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Biography of Winfield Scott WILSON


Submitted by Valerie Crook, <[email protected]>

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 358-359

WINFIELD SCOTT WILSON. To Winfield Scott Wilson of Philippi belongs the credit of a long and active business career. For many years he was a traveling salesman over West Virginia territory, was a merchant himself, and now, when past three-score and ten, he finds congenial work in looking after his interests as a farmer, a vocation to which he was reared.

It is doubtful it in all West Virginia there is a family tree with greater and more important ramifications than that of the Wilsons. As commanded in the Scriptures, they have multiplied and replenished the earth and have sent their representatives to all parts of the United States. If all the descendants of the first American ancestor could be mobilized, an army of Wilsons would entrain. They have been a family intellectually strong and physically vigorous, and have proved themselves worthy of the name "genuine Americans."

The direct line of ancestry runs back to Scotland, where David Wilson was born about 1650. His son, David, Jr., was born in the same country about 1685. The latter joined the forces opposed to the Government in the Scotch rebellion of 1715, and when his comrades were defeated and the rebellion crushed he fled to Ireland. He was living in Ireland when his son, William, the founder of this branch of the family in America, was born. 

William Wilson was born in Ireland November 16, 1722. As a young man he came to the American colonies and was one of the pioneers in the Alleghany Mountain District of Western Virginia. About 1746, after coming to America, he married Elizabeth Blackburn, a daughter of Archibald Blackburn. She was bom in Ulster Province of Ireland February 22, 1725. After their marriage they established their home on Trout Run, Hardy County, in what is now West Virginia. William Wilson died January 12, 1801, and his wife, on May 2, 1806. They had eleven children, and among them were some distinguished characters, particularly John and Benjamin, both of whom represented Randolph County as delegates to the Virginia Convention of 1788 at Richmond, to ratify the Constitution of the United States. John Wilson was the first county clerk of Randolph County, in 1787, its first circuit clerk, in 1809, and the first justice of the peace, in 1787, and in the same year served as a major of the Virginia Militia, was county assessor the next year and sheriff of the county in 1798. His brother, Col. Benjamin Wilson, was in command of the militia in this part of West Virginia during the Revolution, had charge of the defense of the frontier against the Indians and had many encounters with them. He was the first clerk of Harrison County, and that office he held almost forty years. His chief service to his country was the contribution he made to its population of good men and women. He was the father of twenty-nine children.

The representative of the second generation in whom this sketch is particularly interested was William Wilson, Jr., who was born in Hardy County, February 8, 1754. He passed away after a long and useful life on January 1, 1851. For many years he was chairman of the Randolph County Court, and was the county's representative in the Virginia Legislature. He married a sister of the old Indian fighter and Revolutionary war veteran, Jonas Friend, whose home was at the mouth of Leading Creek.

Their son, William F. Wilson, representing the third generation of the American family, was born in Hampshire County, West Virginia. He was a pioneer in Barbour County and was associated with the first to lay the foundations of economic prosperity in this region. He owned the land upon which Philippi was located and much other property besides. He perpetuated the reputation of his family as a mill owner. His forebears were the pioneer mill-builders of Barbour County. The second mill erected in Randolph County was built by his uncle, Col. Benjamin Wilson, and the first mill on Bill's Creek was placed there by Moses Wilson. William F. Wilson built the second mill on that scene. His brother, John, erected a horsepower mill six and a half miles southeast of Philippi. One mill near Belington was built by William P. Wilson, and he built the first mill and carding machine at Philippi, about 1818. He did not stop public improvement and internal development with mill building, since he is credited with having constructed the first wagon road in Barbour County east of the river, a road some seven miles long, extending from Philippi to Bill's Creek. This road was built at a cost of about 75 cents a rod.

William F. Wilson married Jane Booth, daughter of Daniel Booth, who lived on Bill's Creek. Their children were: Isaiah, Asher, Almond, Maria, Lewis, Albert, Daniel, Granger, Alpheus, Sarah Jane, Rezin B. and Eugenus. The daughter Sarah Jane was three times married, her husbands being William M. Simpson, Henson L. Yoke and Sabeus Maine.

The representative of the fourth generation was Isaiah Wilson, who was born in what was then Randolph County, now Barbour County, in 1810. He died there in 1891. With only such educational advantages as could be acquired at home by private study he equipped himself for the profession of land surveyor, and did that work through nearly all his active years. He was a democrat in politics. Isaiah Wilson married Deborah Yoke, whose father, John Yoke, was of German ancestry and a farmer. Deborah Yoke was born near Belington in Barbour County and died in 1885, at the age of sixty. Her children were: Exerxes, who died in Butler County, Kansas, in 1873; Albert G., who was in business as a saddler at Philippi, where he died; Winfield Scott; and Reason, who became a physician and died at Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1895.

Winfield Scott Wilson was born March 12, 1849, four miles from Philippi, in the Philippi District. From the age of four years he lived in the town of Philippi, where he attended the public schools. He was associated with his father on the farm, later became a clerk, and as a commercial traveler he represented the S. L. Delaplain Son and Company of Wheeling four years. After he left the road he was engaged in business on his own account as a merchant from 1873 to 1901. After twenty-eight years in directing his own business he again resumed work on the road for Delaplain Son and Company and then with John A. Horner of Baltimore, and covered a portion of West Virginia as his territory four years. After severing his connection with the Baltimore house, Mr. Wilson retired from business and went back to the farm. At different times he has handled some contracts for grading and excavating on public works.

Mr. Wilson comes of a democratic family. He participated in his first campaign as a voter in 1872, when he gave his ballot to Horace Greeley, and for fifty years has steadily supported the democratic nominees. Mr. Wilson was twice a member of the City Council of Philippi, is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is a past grand in the Lodge of Odd Fellows, and his membership in that order dates back fifty years and he is entitled to the Order's Jewel for that honor. He is the only surviving member of the Philippi Encampment of the Odd Fellows. He is a past chancellor and a member of thirty years standing in the Knights of Pythias, and has sat in the Grand Lodge of both these Orders.

In Barbour County in April, 1875, Mr. Wilson married Miss Nannie Townsend, daughter of Isaac Baker Townsend. She died in 1876, leaving two children. Zona is the wife of Judge Warren B. Kittle of Philippi, and they have three children: Virginia, who married Walter Metz, and they have a son, Harry; Nellie, who married Sherman Lindsay, cashier of the Peoples Bank at Philippi, and George W. Kittle. Ernest is a civil engineer living at Philippi. In April, 1878, Mr. Wilson married, also in Barbour County, Miss Martha Zinn, daughter of Cornelius Zinn, who married a Miss Rogers. Mrs. Wilson was born in Barbour County, one of a family of three sons and five daughters. The only child born to the second marriage was Kemper, who died in 1881, at the age of two years.


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