William Robert Wilson
23 Jan 1859 - 16 May 1943
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 Guildford 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
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 as short 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 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
The rest of his schooling in country 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
At the age of 19, he began teaching at the Burch schoolhouse then in the
old 9th district. At the close of this school, he entered the Henderson
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. 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 Sweet Lips
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
Mary 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 Wildersville, 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 at the second of
these terms, he was employed to teach in the Baptist College in Lexington.
He was the principal of mathematics. E.W. Essary was principal of the
He was selected 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 September 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 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
has been the 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
May 21, 1943, The Lexington Progress