Our Wilson Family History

This Wilson line has been easy to trace for the simple reason that five brothers came from Beith, Ayrshire, Scotland to Lawrence County, PA and stayed there.  Once I discovered that, many doors opened to trace this line.  The five brothers were William, James, Hugh, Andrew and Alexander.  Our line goes through William who married Christiana Van Gorder about 1804 in Beaver Co., PA.  They had ten children.  Our line continues through their son, Hugh P. Wilson. Click here to see their Family Group Record.

For a very long time I hit a brick wall with James Wilson. James Wilson was a very common name of the period and it was hard to figure out just which particular person he was. Finally, I found that his widow, Mary, had applied for a Widow's Pension after his death in 1881. Those papers told us that his parents were Hugh P. and Martha McClure Wilson and that he was born in Lawrence County. They moved from Lawrence County to Butler County in Pennsylvania where James met and married Mary Elizabeth McKinney. After their children were born they moved to Beaver Falls. After James and Mary died, several years apart, both were buried in Petersville (aka Connoquenessing). We have been to their graves in Connoquenessing. They weren't buried in the family cemetery at White Oak Springs Presbyterian Cemetery, which makes me wonder why. Most of Peter McKinney's children and grandchildren are buried there, as are Mary's siblings.

I recently received more of the documents from the National Archives on James Wilson. One document signed by his parents, Hugh P. and Martha Wilson, said they were living in St. Clair Township, Columbiana County, Ohio. I wrote for their death certificates and found his exact death date and where he is buried.  We visited the cemetery in the summer of 1999.  There are several Wilson's buried in a row but I do not recognize many of the others, so we have a new mystery for us to unravel. I did not find Martha's grave.

James remained in Pennsylvania after he returned from the Civil War.  His occupation is listed as a blacksmith and farmer. During the Civil War, James enlisted at New Brighton, PA, on March 24, 1865, for one year. He was 22 years old at this time with dark hair and dark complexion. His eyes were gray and he stood 6 feet 1 inches tall. He first served with Co. J. of the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry Volunteers and later was later transferred to Co. F. of the 3rd Regiment. His military assignment is listed as a teamster. James was wounded and his pension application papers say he lay at a Clarksburg, West Virginia, hospital something like two months due to an eye disease. He was eventually excused from duty. Before he was excused, however, he refused duty in August and was arrested for mutiny and taken to Wheeling, where the army finally realized he was a sick man. Some of the records indicate he was sent to a hospital at Camp Cumberland, Maryland. He was mustered out of the army on October 31, 1865. He married Mary Elizabeth McKinney on May 13, 1866, in Petersville (Connoquenessing). James and Mary had six children.

Upon his return from service, James was not able to work as a blacksmith, but given the problem with his eyes, he did what he could at farming. He was treated by Dr. N.W. Porter of Petersville for some of his eye problems. He states in later paperwork that Dr. A.M. Neyman of Butler County also treated him in 1872. James eventually went blind and it is not clear from the records whether it was one eye or both eyes. From the records, however, it appears as if both eyes were diseased but that he only lost complete vision in the left eye. James died in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, in 1882. Mary lived until 1924 and did not re-marry. Whoever put up the headstone has several dates wrong (possibly it was either their son Andrew or Robert). Mary was living with Andrew when she died in 1924. Another son, Harry S., is also buried at the Petersville (Connoquenessing) cemetery. Harry’s death certificate says he died in 1923. We recently found where the other two sons, Robert and Andrew are buried, so this line is complete. 

Click here to see James and Mary E. McKinney Wilson's Family Group Record.

Our line continues through James' son, Clarence Wilson.  Clarence married Margaret Olive Wilkinson in Beaver Co., PA on September 4, 1889.  They had four sons.  They moved to Sebring, OH, in 1903.

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