yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


May 21, 1943
An Autobiography
By W.R. Wilson

William Robert Wilson was born in Salisbury, Tennessee, Jan. 23, 1859. His great-grandfather, Andrew Wilson, Sr., was born in Ireland, Sept. 18, 1753, settled in Guilford County, North Carolina, and died there February 15, 1835. His grandfather, Andrew Wilson, Jr., was born in Guilford County, North Carolina., October 2, 1789. His father, James Allen Wilson, was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, Feb. 28, 1831. When quite a child, he moved with his father's family to McNairy County, Tennessee.

His mother, Sarah Emerline Ferguson, was a native of Tennessee. Her father's family lived for a while in McNairy County, but most of her life, was spent in Hardeman County, until my father and she moved to the state of Iowa.

Both of his parents were of Scotch Irish descent and each was reared under the old school discipline, and so was the subject of this sketch.

During the unpleasantness of the 1860's, his father left his home in Hardeman County, and went to Iowa to escape persecution from a band of guerrillas, under the leadership of Sol Street, on account of his Union sympathy, notwithstanding he had been conscripted for service in the Southern Army, and had been discharged from the service, owing to physical defects in his foot and legs. Willie, as he has always been called, was then four years old.

After a short stay in Iowa, his parents moved to Union County, Illinois, and resided there for six years. Here the boy began his school life, first at Moscow, and later at Mt.. Pleasant. In December, 1868, his parents moved to Wildersville, Tennessee. The town was founded by P.E. Parker, and was then just three years old.

The next year the subject of this sketch was hired to P.E. Parker, and began life as a plow boy on the Parker's Cross Roads battle ground.

His first school attendance in Tennessee was at the Cross Roads Academy. His teacher was H.C. Brewer. His next schooling was under Capt. John A. Miller, at Mt. Pisgah (Scarce Creek).

Next, he attended school at "Buck Snort," (Farmville). D.C. Parish was his teacher.

The rest of his schooling in county schools was in Wildersville, under various teachers who taught at that place. The longest term he ever attended was under the late Dr. James M. Arnold and was of six months duration.

At the age of 19 he began teaching at the Burch school house then in the old 9th civil district. At the close of this school, he entered the Henderson Masonic Male and Female Institute at Henderson, Tennessee, then in Henderson County, now in Chester. He was in the building and witnessed the organizing of Chester County.

He was graduated from that institution, under Profs. G.M. Savage, J.B. Inman, and N.P. Hackett, on June 16, 1882, with the degree of B-Lit. [sic] He was Tutor of

Mathematics during his last year in that school, and his name appeared in their annual catalogue the next year as a member of the faculty. He had charge of several classes.

After his graduation, he taught a ten month school in Sweet Lips, in Chester County. Twenty-six of his pupils taught district schools in Chester and adjoining counties, following the closing of this Sweet Lips school.

After the closing of this school, he attended the Peabody Normal Institute, at Jackson, Tenn. After the closing of this institute, he returned to the home of his sister, near Wildersville, and was married to Marcy C. Kizer, July 12, 1883, with whom he lived happily for 57 years.

Immediately after his marriage he began teaching at old Lone Elm. For three successive years, he taught there. He then purchased a farm three miles south of Wildervsille, and moved there, but was soon induced to take up school work again, this time at Mazies Chapel near Alberton.

Twice he was called back to Lone Elm, and while engaged in the second of these terms, he was employed to teach in the Baptist College in Lexington. He was principal of mathematics. E.W. Essary was principal of the school.

He was elected to the same position the next year, with J.A. Mount as principal, but in a short while resigned, and purchased the Lexington Republican, a newspaper, published in Lexington.

He and A.H. Shaefer ran the paper for two years, and he sold his interest to Mr. Shaefer, and returned to his farm near Wildersville, after a residence of seven years in Lexington, during which time he served two years as County Superintendent of Public Schools, and four years as Recorder of the city of Lexington.

After moving back to Wildersville, where he had previously taught, he served as County Agent for the Department of Agriculture for three years, while conducting his own farm.

In the fall of 1916, he again took charge of the school in Wildersville. Before this school closed he purchased a half interest in the City Drug store, and at the closing of the school, he assumed the management of the Drug Store. In 1930 he sold his interest in the drug store to Gus Bolen, son of Dr. C.E. Bolen. After this he devoted his entire time to ministering to his invalid wife, until Sept. 1, 1940, when she was called to her reward in the Home Eternal.

He immediately went to the home of his son, Alton, and has since, made his home there. Here he has lived with all the comforts of a pleasant home. Each member of the family has bestowed all the love, care and attention that was conclusive to his pleasure and comfort. For all these he is most profoundly grateful, and especially does he appreciate the kindness of his daughter-in-law, Fannie, Alton's wife.

(Editor's Note:--As stated the above was written by Mr. Wilson, and completed the Saturday night of his death. The following was furnished by Mrs. Ollie Dameron, the oldest daughter.

He died May 16th, 1943, making his stay on earth 84 years, four months and 23 days. He leaves four children to mourn his passing--Ollie McDaniel, Alton Wilson, of Wildersville, Jesse, of Lexington, and Stella Roberts, of Hollis, Oklahoma. Surviving are sixteen grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, and a number of nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held in the Church of Christ, in Wildersville, which had been the place of worship for Mr. Wilson, conducted by Elder W.N. Greer, of Jackson.

His body was laid to rest beside his wife in the Jones cemetery, under a mound of flowers. The active pall-bearers were the students that he had requested: Gus Bolen, Elsworth Bolen, John Gibson, John Cunningham, Clyde Walker, and Lewis Evans. The honorary pall-bearers were J.T.Smith, Lewis Lawler, Ernest Essary, Walter Rush, Dick Timberlake, and Oliver Dennison. The flower girls were his granddaughters.

A large crowd attended and he will be sadly missed by all that knew him.

Wright-Timberlake in charge.

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