WILLIAM J. WILSON, president of the private banking house of Mattinson, Wilson & Co., of Gibson City, Ill., is a native of Clarke County, Ohio, and was born on the 29th of June, 1838. His parents, Washington and Mary A. (Forman) Wilson, were from Ohio. His father's birth occurred on the 18th of October, 1811, near Fairfield, Greene County, and the mother was born in Clarke County. They were married May 22, 1836, and lived together as husband and wife for nearly half a century, when called to their final rest. Washington Wilson died at his home in Springfield, Ohio, on Sunday, April 26, 1885, at the age of seventy-three years and seven months. His wife passed away on the 5th of May following, surviving her husband only nine days. They had joined the Christian Church together in 1839, and remained worthy and consistent members of that society to the close of their lives. It is said of them that they were remarkably adapted to each other and were possessed of noble traits of character.

Michael Wilson, the father of Washington Wilson, was a soldier of the War of 1812, and died soon after his return from the war from the effects of exposure while in the service. His widow removed to Harmony Township, and later made her home with her son Washington in Springfield, where she died in 1880, at the advanced age of ninety-two years.

Washington and Mary A. Wilson were the parents of eleven children: Michael, William J., George W., Harrison, John, Addison; Luther, deceased; Nancy T., Harriet; Mary A., deceased, was the wife of Dr. Strain; Flora is now Mrs. Dr. Clarence Kay; Michael and Addison reside in Springfield, Ohio; George W., who was State Senator, makes his home in London, Ohio; Harriet is a resident of London, Ohio; Nancy T. is the wife of John J. Goodfellow; Harrison is a farmer of Madison County, Ohio, and .John resides in Gibson City.

Washington Wilson made his home in Springfield at an early day. He was industrious and frugal, and accumulated a large landed estate, having nearly two thousand acres of land near Springfield at the time of his death. He was one of the prime movers in the organization of the Christian Church in Springfield, and was one of its officers and most earnest supporters. As a Christian, he was Biblically orthodox, and practically evangelical with charity for all. He was active as a speaker and worker in church, prayer meetings and Sunday-school, and his hospitality to the ministers was liberal and much partaken of. He was noted for steadfastness of purpose, a broad Christian spirit and for his efforts to do good in his community and to encourage and develop a true Christian spirit in those who came within the range of his influence. The sterling qualities of this worthy man and his estimable wife, which gave them such high standing in their community, have had their influence in forming the character of their children, who have become useful and worthy members of society.

William J. Wilson was reared to agricultural pursuits and was educated in the public schools of Springfield, Ohio. On the 17th of September, 1863, he was married, in his native county, to Miss Lydia Goodfellow, a daughter of John and Lucy (Bennett) Goodfellow, and a native of Clarke County, Ohio.

On attaining man's estate, Mr. Wilson engaged in farming near his old home, and continued in that vocation until 1875, when he embarked in the grocery business at London, Ohio. In 1876, he sold out and removed to Gibson City, Ill., and engaged in the grain trade, which he conducted successfully until the burning of his elevator. On coming to Gibson City, Mr. Wilson invested in farming lands in Ford County, and has increased his acreage until he now owns fifteen hundred acres of agricultural lands, which are situated partly in the following counties: Ford, Vermilion and Lee. Two years after he settled in Gibson City, Mr. Wilson became a partner in the banking house now carried on under the firm title of Mattinson, Wilson & Co., the oldest bank in the city, and has maintained partnership relations with that institution continuously since. In addition to the business interests already mentioned, Mr. Wilson has done an extensive business in growing, buying, feeding and shipping live stock. He is also a member of the Gibson Canning Company, of which he is Vice-President.

Ten children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, three sons and six daughters now living: Minnie B. is the wife of Evan Mattinson, of the banking house of Mattinson, Wilson & Co.; Luther B. is engaged in the real-estate lousiness in Dixon, Ill.; Cora May resides with her parents; Lucy F. is the wife of Albert Browning, a farmer of Drummer Township; William J., Jr.; Mary Maud, Grace, Mabel and Arthur Glenn. One died in infancy.

In politics, Mr. Wilson is a Republican, but has never sought or desired public office. In their religious views, Mr. Wilson, his wife and older children are Presbyterians, and he is a member of the Board of Trustees of that church. The children older than Mary Maud were born in Clarke County, Ohio, while she and those younger are natives of Gibson City.

Since his residence at Gibson City, Mr. Wilson has been actively and prominently identified with its commercial and financial interests, and it is no flattery to say of him that his record has been that of a man of strict integrity, enterprise and ability. In his business career, he has been eminently successful, and has succeeded in accumulating a large and valuable property, while his uniformly upright course in life and just regard for the rights of others have entitled him to a place in the foremost ranks of the most respected and worthy citizens of Ford County.

Extracted 14 Dec 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 206-207.

Templates in Time