REV. GEORGE WILSON, of Bloomington Township, a gentleman of rare literary ability, a minister of the Baptist
Church, and he has also combined the peaceful and pleasurable pursuit of agriculture with his other life labors,
has been a resident of McLean County since 1858, at which time he located upon a purchase which he made nearly
twenty years before.
He has been remarkably successful in his undertakings in life, and to his agricultural pursuits has added that of stock-raising, which he has carried on extensively and profitably for a number of years. He is the owner of 570 acres of land, 320 in this county, and 250 in Ford County, Ill., and since becoming a resident of this locality has aided materially in the building up of its industrial and agricultural interests, as well as its great moral bulwarks.
The subject of this history was born in Allegheny County, Pa., on the 22d of August, 1817. His father, Samuel Wilson (who always spelled his name Willson), was of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Craghead, whose descendants were of the same races.
The mother was a native of Maryland, and her father was a Captain in the French and Indian War, and also a Colonel in the Revolutionary War. After the marriage of the parents of our subject they settled in Pennsylvania, where they spent the remainder of their lives.
George Wilson remained in his native State, receiving careful home training and a good education. He pursued his primary studies in private schools, and at the age of sixteen years attended Franklin College, in Harrison County, Ohio. After completing his studies in this institution he entered Theological Hall [ed., Theological Seminary at Cedar Springs, Ohio], a seminary of learning which is conducted by the United Presbyterian Church, and there received literary and ministerial instruction, under the tutorship of Rev. Dr. John Pressley. Before entering on his theological studies his father died.
He spent three years with Dr. Pressley, and was then licensed to preach by the Presbytery of the Associate Reform Church [ed., Associate Reform Church later joined with the Reformed Church to form the Associate Presbyterian Church] of Monongahela. He was ordained in the fall of 1841 by the Mansfield Presbytery, but after a few years withdrew from the church of his early choice and received immersion from the Baptist Church, with which he has since been connected.
After a few years of ministerial labor in Mansfield, Ohio, Mr. Wilson came to Illinois and engaged in the ministry in this State. Prior to making this his home in (1839) he had traveled over the larger portion of the State, conversed with many educated and intellectual men, and here began the more practical development of his religious thought and ideas. These he soon began to put upon paper, and in the course of time became quite noted as the author of a valuable religious work, "Baptismal Controversy Reviewed," which is a very logical work, consisting of 434 pages, bound in cloth. He has also in manuscript a work entitled “The Kingdom of God Developed, According to the Inspired Record and Predictions.” Many years of his life were spent in this latter work, and it will soon be placed in the hands of the publishers. In this Mr. Wilson hopes to fill a vacant niche in sacred literature. Although his literary labors have consumed much time and labor, Mr. Wilson has worked industriously alike at his farming pursuits.
The marriage of Rev. George Wilson and Miss Margaret Taggart was celebrated in Belmont County, Ohio, in 1841. Mrs. W. was a daughter of Rev. William Taggart, D. D., a prominent minister in the Associate Reform Church of Ohio. She was born Oct. 16, 1821, and reared in her native State, receiving a liberal education, and by her union with our subject became the mother of seven children, viz.: Sarah E., Mary J., William T., Margaret G., Amelia A., Maria I. and Georgiette C.
The family occupy a handsome and comfortable residence, and are surrounded by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.
This fair home was invaded by death March 18, 1887, when the faithful wife and fond and tender mother was taken from them. Her decease was caused by a complication of diseases, principally of the liver and lungs. She had suffered much for many years, and was often at the “Gates of Death," but rallied, and was active to the last attack, which commenced with hemorrhage of the lungs and terminated in stragulation.
Tenacity for early impressions and teaching was the predominant trait of her mind, and she never gave up any of them while she could resist the evidence against them.
In her last attack she could talk but little; but in former attacks of chills, caused by the obstruction of the gall duct, she raved much, continually repeating detached portions of Psalms in meter. With these Psalms she was familiar from childhood, and could sing them without book or precentor, and when no human voice could impress her she had all the counsel, praise and prayers enstamped on her mind, mingled with incoherent thoughts. She was a life member of the Iowa Baptist State Convention [ed., Baptist Convention of Iowa], the Bible Union [ed., probably the Baptist Bible Union], and of the Missionary Union.
The following beautiful and tender lines were penned by Mr. Wilson, whose heart was burdened with a sense of his loneliness at the loss of his beloved life companion:
Now rest in peace, thy journey is o'er.
And we on earth shall meet no more;
I'll tread alone this thorny path,
And finish up our work at last.
Then I shall talk as spirits do,
And learn what now is known to you;
The life we now begin by faith
Will not be altered by death.
And when the Savior comes again,
We hope to follow in His train:
The earth a paradise will be.
And here again I'll walk with thee.
The “casket” now encloses thy form.
But thy bosom and head I can see;
Thy face is pale, yet fresh as the morn;
Thy closed eyes return no look unto me.
Margaret! we are going to take thee away.
To dwell in thy lonely house of clay:
Thy place at home will be empty still.
For no other one thy place can fill.
Thy coffin is lowered, we bid thee adieu.
The earth replaced conceals thee from view.
The last sight I took, thy image impressed
What time can never erase from my breast;
Nor can I forget my first days with you:
Thou wast young, fair, lovely and true.
O! thy grave is so lonely, and I feel as if thou
Felt its loneliness, too, and desertion, e'en now.
Thank God! Not here! Thy spirit is gone.
I stand beside thy cold grave alone.
At home, thou, with those first you have loved.
And had gone before you had removed.
I stand alone. No voice from thee speaks
Me joy and peace, nor me reproaches
For consigning thee to this cold. dark, and
Drear abode. Thou art at home the better
Home and better company; but still I feel
I feel my better judgment cannot change
My feelings. My last impressions must
Grow dim with age and worn out with cares,
Labors, and sorrows thou wilt not know.
In politics Mr. Wilson is a stanch Republican. He was a strong anti-slavery man, and during the early history of the party assisted greatly in the establishment of its principles, by giving lectures for this purpose whenever time and opportunity permitted. At the same time he vigorously advocated the abolition of slavery, and there is no doubt that his words at that time left an ineffaceable impress upon the people of Ohio.
He can now pass down the sunset hill of life with the consciousness that he has been a good and faithful servant in the cause of right and justice. It is with pleasure that we give the portrait of Mr. Wilson with this brief outline of his life, and as a fitting companion picture we give that of his wife.
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), 302. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards