A. JUDSON WILSON, Clerk of Dale Township, is pleasantly located on section 11, and is well known and highly
respected as a public-spirited man who has filled many offices of trust in the township, and has fully merited
the confidence which his fellow-citizens have imposed in him. He comes of an excellent family, noted for their
enterprising public spirit, their education, intelligence and refinement. The subject of our sketch is a native
of Madison County, N. Y., and was born on the 26th of December, 1829. His father, William Wilson, was of English
birth and ancestry, having first opened his eyes to the light in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1791, being the son of
Thomas and Mary Wilson, of the same country, and descended from a long and honorable line.
In 1801 Thomas Wilson, accompanied by his wife and seven children, emigrated to the United States, locating in Schenectady, N. Y. They only remained there for a brief period, however, and then, boarding a flatboat on the Mohawk River, proceeded to a point near the city of Utica, that State, which was then called Baggs Tavern. From there Thomas Wilson went into the wilderness and purchased a tract of heavy timber land near what has been since known as Fenner Corners, in Madison County. Here he cleared a farm, cultivated and improved the soil, and established a comfortable homestead, upon which he remained until his death, which occurred in 1825. His son William, the father of our subject, there grew to manhood and inherited forty acres of land from his father's estate. He purchased eight acres adjoining, erected a good set of buildings, and lived there until 1844, when he decided to remove to the West where he could secure a larger area of land. He started via canal to Buffalo, thence by the lake to Chicago, where he purchased a span of horses and a wagon and then proceeded overland to McLean County.
After arriving here William Wilson purchased 160 acres of land on the southwest quarter of section 11. Of this there had been forty acres broken and fenced, and a good frame house finished with black walnut shingles, and sideboards of the same within and without. In 1858 he practically retired from active labor, rented his farm and removed to Bloomington, where he spent the remainder of his days, his death occurring in 1872. The wife of his youth was Miss Lydia Main, who was born in Ashford, Windham Co., Conn., Aug. 6, 1799. She was the daughter of Thomas and Lucy (Tyler) Main, and the grand-daughter of Joseph and Lucy (Fish) Tyler. She remained the faithful and affectionate companion of her husband through many years of changes and labors, and survived him until March 20, 1884, dying in Bloomington at the advanced age of over eighty-five years. Their household circle was completed by the birth of nine children, of whom the record is as follows: Mary became the wife of W. H. Holmes, and died in Bloomington, Ill.; Adelia married Samuel Landor, a pioneer of Bloomington, and they now live in Texas; Lucy became the wife of Hiram Hart, of Utica, N. Y.; Lydia was married to Charles W. Godard, and died in Brooklyn, N. Y.; Walter departed this life while on a visit to Clinton, N. Y., and his remains were interred at Bloomington; Edward is a resident of Dale Township; A. Judson. the subject of our sketch, was next in order of birth; Elizabeth became the wife of C. C. Holmes, and died in Bloomington. The parents of Mr. Holmes were among the earliest pioneers of Bloomington, locating there in 1835, when the present flourishing city was but an humble hamlet of a few houses. Mr. H. was a carpenter and a skilled mechanic, and erected the first brick house in the town. Henry C. Wilson is a resident of St. Louis, Mo., but is now traveling in Europe.
A. Judson Wilson of our sketch was the third son of his parents, and spent his early years under the parental roof. He attended the district school and assisted his father in the lighter duties of the homestead until 1844, when he went to live with his uncle, Edward Wilson, of Madison County, N. Y., with whom he remained for six years following. Then in 1850 he turned his face westward and came to Illinois, making his first location in McLean County. He commenced teaching school in Randolph Township, and the next summer taught in Dale Township. In the fall of 1851 he entered the employ of Robinson & Betts, who were engaged in general merchandise at Bloomington while the town was yet in its infancy. Their stock included almost everything that could be named for use about the farm and household, and young Wilson remained with these and other firms until 1862. He purchased the south half of his father's homestead in 1866, upon which he located, and has been engaged in farming since that time. His land was comparatively uncultivated, but he set himself industriously to work to improve its condition and raise the crops upon which he depended for his profits and livelihood. He was soon rewarded for his labors by the picture of smiling fields and growing grain, and as time passed on he added beauty to utility, erected a handsome residence and good out-buildings, planted fruit and shade trees, and is now possessed of one of the prettiest homesteads in McLean County. The land is subdivided by green and handsome hedges, and is well stocked with good breeds of domestic animals. He is engaged mostly in mixed husbandry, and is supplied with all the implements and appliances for carrying on agriculture after the most approved methods. A fine view of the residence of Mr. Wilson is shown in this work.
The marriage of A. Judson Wilson and Miss Ellen Cornell was celebrated in September, 1860. The wife of our subject was born in Providence, R. I., on the 24th of April, 1839, and was the daughter of Serril and Elisa (Hopkins) Cornell. Of this union there were born nine children, of whom the record is as follows: Nellie is the wife of John A. Cobbs and lives in Olney, Richland Co., Ill.; Charles W. is a resident of Wichita, Kan.; Edward M., Elizabeth, Abbie, Mary, Robert, Frank and Harry are at home with their parents.
Soon after coming to this county the natural abilities of our subject received due recognition, and he was called upon to fill the offices which usually devolved upon the leading and best qualified citizens. For nineteen years he has served as School Director, was Supervisor for a period of six years, and has held the position of Town Clerk for nearly two years. He is giving his children the advantages of a good education, the older ones having attended the Wesleyan Academy at Bloomington and the Normal School of Valparaiso, Ind., and Libbie is at the High School in Olney, Ill. The parents and four of their children are connected with the Baptist Church of Bloomington. Mr. Wilson is Republican in politics, uniformly casting his vote in support of the principles of that party, and in all respects is fulfilling the duties of a conscientious citizen.
Edward M. Wilson, son of our subject, is a young man of more than ordinary ability, a fine scholar, and possessed of literary and artistic talent. He has compiled a history of Dale Township with biographical sketches of early settlers, having printed it with a pen and illustrated it with lead pencil drawings of the pioneer homes and those of the present day. The whole makes a remarkably interesting volume, and is admired by everyone who has seen it. It not only shows great skill with the pen and pencil but is a marked illustration of persevering industry, the work expended upon it having consumed many weeks of careful and trying labor.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 520. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.