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Proceedings of the Fourth Congress at Atlanta, GA., April 28 to May 1, 1892
In Memoriam
Samuel Willson, Mantorville, Minn.


The year 1890—91 of the Old Settlers' Association seems destined to be the most notable in its history thus far, as to the number and prominence of its members removed by death. And of them all, none will be more missed or leave a larger vacancy than he whose name is this week added to the list: Samuel Willson. He had been in failing health for several months, and when a few weeks since he was stricken down by heart disease, it awakened general apprehension among his wide circle of friends. However, under the careful nursing of home, and the skillful directions of our village physician, Dr. Van Cleave, he slowly rallied, until hope for his recovery had become strong, and with the return of warmer weather all had trusted to see his familiar form upon our streets again. Alas the day! Sunday morning, about 6 o'clock, without a moment's warning, the final call came. His wife had arisen and was making preparations to minister to him, conversing with him in the meanwhile, when there was a gasping sound from the bed, and in briefest space all was over.

Mr. Willson was born in Norwich, Vt., September 19, 1820, having thus passed, by four and a half months, the Biblical limit of three score and ten. His great-great-grandfather on the paternal side was a native of Londonderry, Ireland, and one of the founders of Londonderry, N. H. An ancestor on the maternal side was one of the first settlers of Marlborough, Mass., emigrating from England in 1635. His father, John Willson, and his mother, Mercy Newton, were both natives of Henniker, N. H., and he was the youngest of their eight children. He was brought up on a farm in Barre, Vt., and was educated in the common schools of the day. Before he was of age he commenced to learn the trade of a stone cutter, and followed it for more than thirty years. April 20, 1854, ho was married to Miss Harriet A. Lamb, of Barre, Vt. A year or two later Mr. and Mrs. Willson removed to Waukegan, Ill., where their only child, Frank L., was born. Shortly after, in the spring of 1857, the family emigrated to Minnesota, and Mantorville has since been their home. Here, for several years, Mr. Willson worked in the main at his trade, eventually in company with Mr. Henry Hook, under the firm name of Hook & Wilson, buying a portion of the quarries east of the village, and making the most extended operations in that line up to their time. In 1874 he purchased the drug business here, and has continued it, with the help of his son, to the present, enlarging and making it one of the best, outside of the few largest towns, in Southern Minnesota.

Mr. Willson has always been deeply interested in matters of public import, and has done his full share in helping to develop and maintain local institutions and interests. He was Chairman of the County Board of Commissioners in 1861, and again continuously in 1864-65-66. He was Chairman of the committee to procure plans for the Courthouse; then Chairman of the Building Committee and to negotiate the county bonds therefor; and later was appointed to superintend its completion. He was a member of the town council in 1867, 1871, and 1872. He took a deep interest in educational matters, and was a member of the Board of Education several years—the last time he was elected (in 1885), declining to qualify because of having been appointed agent for the sale of state text-books. He was a member of no Church organization, yet always contributed liberally to the local societies, and was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the Congregational Church. It can safely be said that no worthy person or object ever appealed to him for encouragement or aid and went away empty-handed. When the organization of a bank here approached completion, every one interested seemed to turn instinctively to him as the choice for its President. In fact, his anxiety for the success of the project, and the construction of the vault having been put under his supervision, in his enfeebled health perhaps hastened the closing scene.

Awaiting the arrival of friends from Chicago, the funeral was not held until Wednesday afternoon. There was a brief and highly appropriate service at the residence, conducted by Rev. James McLaughlin, of the Congregational Church, and after the large concourse of neighbors and old friends, many from a distance, had taken their last look at the so long familiar face, but henceforth to be seen no more in the walks of men, the remains were deposited in Evergreen Cemetery. The pallbearers were Messrs. Joel Brooks, James B. Foster, W. C. Hogle, H. J. Roe, B. A. Pier, and G. L. Slingerland. Every business house in town, including the county offices, was closed during the funeral. Besides his wife and son, an elder sister, Mrs. Mercy Fisk, of New Lisbon, N. H., survives the deceased, the last of their father's family. The Express is requested to voice the deep appreciation and gratitude of the bereaved family for the many kindnesses and helps rendered by neighbors during these closing scenes.

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