Jackson County


In the recent death of William P. Wilson, Jackson county has suffered a great loss, for it was given to this popular citizen of Murphysboro to achieve a place as one of the representative members of the bar of his native county, and he was also known as a man of marked progressiveness and civic loyalty, in which connection it may well be noted, as a matter of evidence, that he was president of the Southern Illinois Building and Loan Association, which accomplished a most beneficent work under his able regime. In addition to these activities he was the owner of valuable farm property in Jackson county and was prominently concerned with various agricultural and stock-raising enterprises.

William Perry Wilson was born in Degonia township, Jackson county, Illinois, on the 17th of June, 1879, and was a son of Aaron E. and Rachel H. (Donalds) Wilson. Aaron E. Wilson established his home in Jackson county many years ago and eventually became one of its representative farmers and stock growers, having developed one of the fine landed estates of the county and having been an honored and influential citizen of his township. Both he and his wife are yet living, loved and respected by the whole community.

William P. Wilson found his childhood and youth compassed by the benignant surroundings and influences of the home farm and his preliminary educational advantages were those afforded in the public schools. Later he prosecuted a course of study in the Southern Illinois Normal University and in preparation for the work of his chosen profession he entered the law department of the celebrated University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, in which institution he was graduated as a member of the class of 1906 and from which he received his degree of Bachelor of Laws. In July of the same year he was admitted to the bar of his native state and forthwith opened an office in Murphysboro, where he continued to devote himself to the general practice of his profession up to the time of his death. In his work his success was on a parity with his energy and well recognized ability, and had he lived longer his reputation would have been even more widespread. He served two years as city attorney, but manifested no predilection for political office, though he was aligned as a stalwart and effective advocate of the principles and policies for which the Republican party stands sponsor.

Throughout his whole life Mr. Wilson was especially active and progressive in the furtherance of civic and material improvements, and in this line his influence was noteworthy and emphatic through his connection with the affairs of the Southern Illinois Building and Loan Association, of Murphysboro, the business of which has more than doubled under his administration as president, an office of which he was the incumbent at the time of his death. He was a zealous and valued member of the Murphysboro Commercial Association, another of the alert and progressive institutions of Jackson county. The valuable landed estate, which he owned in his native county, a well-improved tract of one thousand acres, he devoted to diversified agriculture and to stock-growing. Four hundred acres of this property on an average was planted in corn, and Mr. Wilson always took a most lively interest in the furtherance of the agricultural and stock industries in the county which was ever home to him.

Mr. Wilson was a member of the Jackson County Bar Association, of which he was treasurer for several years. He was also affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and with the Modern Woodmen of America. Both he and his wife were members of the Free Baptist church, in which his wife is still active. Mr. Wilson died in Murphysboro, Illinois, on the 1st of November, 1911. The funeral services were conducted from the Free Will Baptist church, the Knights of Pythias being in charge, the burial taking place in Ava, Illinois, where he now rests in the Evergreen cemetery. He was only a little over thirty-two years old at the time of his death, and one can but wonder what he would have become had he lived a few years longer, for his ability was so pronounced that every one joined in prophesying for him a brilliant future.

Mr. Wilson was married on the 4th of September, 1907, to Miss Harriett Downen, who likewise was born and reared in Jackson county and who is a daughter of Cornelius C. and Elizabeth (Snyder) Downen, her father being a representative farmer in the vicinity of the village of Campbell Hill, this county. Three children were born of this marriage, namely: Russel A., Rachel A. and Cornelius J.

Extracted 11 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 3, pages 1181-1182.

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