George Thomas Wilson
The subject of this sketch was born in Lewis County, Kentucky on the 14thday of September, 1837. I was born on the Ohio River in what has always been known as Wilson's Bottom. It was so named because the Wilsons were the first settlers of the country. It is a beautiful body of land of about one thousand acres. It is nearly opposite the town of Manchester, Ohio. On the 14thof July, 1839, a little sister made her appearance in our family, whom they named Elizabeth Ann. About the year 1848 we moved to Manchester, where my father engaged in the cooperMaker or repairer of vessels made of wooden staves & hoops, such as casks, barrels, tubs, etc. business. We only remained there three years when we returned to the Kentucky side. My father purchased a farm where he thought he would make a home for life. He became alarmed lest he could not meet the payments, and sold it, and returned to our former home in town; and he again embarked in the vocation of a cooper. My life and career did not differ materially from other boys until about my ninth year when without any premonition my sight began to fail. Prior to that time I had not gone to school. The schoolhouse was considerable distance from our home. I had, however, made considerable progress reading, writing and arithmetic, even before my sight began to fail. After moving to Manchester I went to school with my sister, more as a past time than for anything else. My sister was a bright, apt pupil and made excellent progress. In the year 1855, while living in Manchester, my sister fell a prey to disease and died on the 19thof August. This was to me a very sad event. I felt it perhaps more keenly than ever because she was, as it were, eyes to me. About a year thereafter we returned to the same farm on which we had resided in Kentucky. My father continued for some years farming and working at his trade. Soon after our return to Kentucky I began attending a school taught by Mr. G. W. Herrick, a teacher from the east, who was of the progressive type. It was under his instruction that I received an impulse that probably determined the future of my life.
In the spring of 1859 my mother´s health began to fail. She continued to decline in spite of the doctor´s skill and disease gained a victory over her, and her earth life closed on the 14thof October of the same year. In her death I sustained my greatest loss. She was a true and devoted mother and looked after my welfare with never-failing interest. Her death necessitated another change in family affairs. In the following February my father was married to Mrs. Mina Ann Thompson, the widow of my mother´s brother, John B. Thompson. In the meantime my father had made an arrangement for me to take a course in Bethany College. I arrived at Bethany in time for the beginning of the second term of the session of 1859-60. (Ohio)
I remained there till the end of the session, and returned in the fall, attending the classes till the premature close of the school in the spring of 1861. This was a new but a very profitable experience. For the lack of means I was compelled to bring my school days to a close. In the fall of 1862 I was an assistant of my old teacher, Mr. Herrick, at the old Union church on Cabin Creek in Lewis County, Kentucky. Soon after the close of this school I resolved to try the great west. Accordingly on the 31st of August, 1863, I left my home to try my hand among the people of Illinois. On the second of September I found myself in the city of Bloomington. It was the occasion of the annual meeting of the Christian churches of that state. There I met a number of old acquaintances. From thence I went to Pittsfield in Pike County. I preached for several months in that county. For the next two years my labors were confined to Macoupin, Brown and Adams counties.
In the summer of 1864 I made a visit to my old home in Kentucky. I was very much surprised on my arrival to find a little sister of very recent date. We named her Ella Glenn. After spending a few weeks there I returned to my work in Illinois. I spent two years, largely in the counties of Brown, Morgan and Scott. In the spring of 1867 I went to Bethany College to attend a brief course of lectures. On my return I spent a few weeks in Kentucky. While at home my little sister Ella sickened and died. On my return to my old field in Illinois I made it convenient to stop at Lafayette, Indiana, where I was married to Miss Ella Longley, daughter of Elder John Longley. Returning to Illinois we located with the Mauvaisterre church, nine miles west of Jacksonville.
In the spring of 1867 we took up our abode in the city of Jacksonville. We made this place our home for nearly three years. During this time I preached for churches easy of access from that point. On the 30thday of June, 1867, was born to us a daughter, whom we named Emma Abbie. This important event was followed by a similar one. On the 18thday of September, 1871, we hailed the advent of a second daughter to whom we gave the name of Alice Cary. In November of the same year we moved to Scott County, near Riggston. I preached for the churches at Exeter, Mauvaisterre and Chambersburg. Remaining there for one year we moved to Astoria, Fulton County, where we lived and labored for two years.
While there, on the third day of July, our little family was gladdened by the appearance of a son. Him we called Howard Longley. At the beginning of the year 1875, I located with the young church at Griggsville, Pike County. Leaving that place in the spring of 1876 we sojourned for a few months in the town of Chapin. From thence we went to Eureka where we attempted to establish a boarding house, but failing in that, we located with the church at Putnam County.
On the 12th of October, 1878, there was born to us another son, we called him Charles Edward. My work was satisfactory to the church, and we could have remained, but not liking the society, we sought another field. In November, 1878, we engaged with the church at Lafayette, Stark County. This place we made our home for four years and a half. Our stay there was very pleasant and was not marked by anything of special interest. In the month of April, 1883, I made a trip into Iowa and Missouri. I made an engagement with the church at Gallatin, Missouri. After working two years with the brethren of Gallatin, we resolved to make our home in the city of Des Moines, Iowa, where we are at the present time. We have never regretted for a moment the decision which we then made. The probability is that the remainder of our days will be spent here. We think that our children have achieved advantages and opportunities here which they could not have found elsewhere.
My parents, though not blest with more than an ordinary education were endowed with a large share of common sense. On my father´s side we trace our ancestors back to Col. George Wilson who was a soldier in the war of the Revolution. He lived on the Potomac, perhaps in Maryland. He had a family of twelve children. I know nothing of his family except that two of his sons, John and George, came to the wilds of Kentucky and settled on the Ohio river in the bottom which still bears the name of Wilson´s Bottom. They were a large, robust family, and were probably of English descent. The old stock were staunch Presbyterians, but under the preaching of Barton W. Stone and others, my great grandfather, John Wilson and grandfather George Wilson and other members of the family came out from the ranks of the old church and identified themselves with those who were known as Christians only, taking the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice.
My grandparents and all their children, nine in number, were all members of the Christian church. On my mother´s side they were from Pennsylvania and were of German stock. Mother´s parents were Thomas and Mary Thompson. They and their eight children were all members of the Christian church. Thus it will be seen that I have almost inherited membership in the Christian church. Grandfather Wilson died in the year 1828 and grandmother in 1851. Mother´s parents died before my day. Of my mother´s family, all are gone; of father´s family, three still survive. My father died in his 70th year at our home in Lafayette, IL. He died on the first day of April, 1883.
John Longley was born in the city of New York, June 13, 1782. In early manhood he entered upon the ministry of the gospel in the Baptist church. He, however, accepted the plea which was made by B.W. Stone and Alexander Campbell for a return to apostolic and primitive Christianity, and for more than sixty years he preached the pure gospel of Christ. The maiden name of his first wife was Francina Hendrickson, by whom he had thirteen children. After her death he was wedded to Nancy (Wilson) Hendrickson, who bore him three children. Death again robbed him of his companion. His third wife was Emily Huntington. This marriage took place on the 5th day of October, 1834. She became the mother of nine children. Thus it will be seen that he was the father of twenty-five children. Only three of that number still survive. Several of them died in their infancy. Father Longley´s death occurred on the 26 of November, 1867. Emily Huntington was born January 3, 1807, in Windsor County, Vermont. Her parents removed to New York in 1809, and to Ohio in 1819. During the same year while living at Chilo, Ohio, her father was drowned in the Ohio River. Five years after the death of the father, the family moved to the state of Indiana, in which state she resided until the death of her husband in 1867. She is a woman of strongly marked characteristics, such as fitted her pre-eminently for a life of hardships and privations.
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