John H. Wilson

From McLeansboro Times, April 20, 1922



          John Harrison Wilson, one of Hamilton County's best known and most highly respected citizens, departed this life from his home on Pearl Street in McLeansboro, Monday morning about eleven thirty o'clock, April 17, 1922, aged 77 years,2 months and 9 days.

          He was the son of John Andrew and Eliza Grady Wilson, who were pioneer settlers in Hamilton County, coming to McLeansboro in 1840 where their son, John Harrison was born February 8, 1845.  When John H. was only sixteen years old his father died, and he, being the elder son assumed the responsibility for the support and care of his mother, brother and sisters.  He grew to manhood in McLeansboro, and was educated at McKendree College graduating in and receiving his A. B. degree in 1868.  Prominent among his class mates were, Dr. Barnays of St. Louis, James Hamil, L & N attorney of Belleville, Philip Postel of Mascoutah, Ill, and Attorney T. B. Stelle of McLeansboro.

          For three years he was employed in the United States Engineer Department on western rivers, and during this time he directed the building of the Keokuk dam across the Mississippi River.  In 1871 he engaged in contracting with railroads for ties and timer, building up an extensive business in Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.  Mr. Wilson was one of the original builders of the L & N Railroad.  During the later years of his life he was engaged in the farm-loan business and while thus engaged he dealt so generously and justly with the people that they always remained his life long friends.

            In questions of public improvement, Mr. Wilson was always progressive.  He was influential in securing electric lights, the water system and the street paving in the city of McLeansboro.  He stood for and advocated the best moral and civic interests of McLeansboro.  There has been no more ardent supported of temperance and prohibition than Mr. Wilson.  He waged the fight against the saloon for years, and was the first mayor of the city of McLeansboro, under who administration there were no saloons in the city.  He was twice elected mayor and served for many years as member of the city council.

          Mr. Wilson united with the Methodist Episcopal Church about 43 years ago under the ministry of Rev. J. A. Baird and through the years has been intensely devoted to his church.  Even when business was urgent and important he took time to attend to the needs of the church.  And, too, he gave liberally of his means for the support of the Gospel and every benevolent appeal that came to him.  The Methodist church of McLeansboro feels keenly its loss in the passing of Mr. Wilson.  He will be missed on the Official Board and in the worshiping congregation.  He was not demonstrative religiously but during his last illness he told his pastor that "Christ Was His Hope," that God has been good to him and in this faith his soul passed from this world.

          November 27, 1873, he was married to Alice J. Randall of Hamilton County, Ohio.  Their children are: Andrew Eugene, who passed away October 6, 1921; Francis R. Wilson of McLeansboro; Mrs. A. W. B. Johnson of Birmingham, Alabama; and Mrs. Lelia Maxey of McLeansboro.  These children with his widow survive him.  Besides his own children a niece, Mrs. O. L. Monroe, now of New York City, grew to womanhood as a member of his family.  He is also survived by six grandchildren, they are: Lucius Eugene, Alice Elizabeth, Martha Caroline, and A. W. B. Johnson, Jr., Charles Lester Maxey and Ruth Alice Wilson.  One sister, Mrs. T. B. Wright of McLeansboro, and two uncles, General James Harrison Wilson of Wilmington, Delaware, and Major Buford Wilson of Springfield, Illinois also survive him.

          The remains lay in state at the family residence from 9 to 12 o'clock Wednesday and were viewed by many life long friends.

          Many beautiful floral offerings were sent by the relations and friends in this city and from a distance.

          The funeral services were conducted from the M. E. Church Wednesday at 2 o'clock, after which the body was laid to rest in the Odd Fellows cemetery.

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