My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JAMES M. WILSON, of Bath Township, Greene County, bears the distinction of having been one of the youngest soldiers of the Union Army during the late Civil War. He is now one of the most prominent and successful farmers in the country, and makes a specialty of fine horses, being a great lover of the equine race, and possessing rare judgment in determining their qualities. He makes his headquarters at a well-regulated farm of one hundred and sixty and one-half acres on section 27.

Mr. Wilson is of excellent antecedents, being the son of William H. Wilson, who was born in Bath Township, Greene County, October 24, 1823. The paternal grandfather, Isaac Wilson, was a native of Redstone, Pa., whence his parents removed down the Ohio River and settled in Clark County, Ky. The great-grandfather, Jacob Wilson, lived there on a farm until 1802, then with his family of twelve children came to Ohio, and located on a tract of Government land in Bath Township, where he spent the remainder of his life. Two of his sons served in the War of 1812.

Grandfather Wilson was a boy of ten years when he came with his father’s family to Greene County, and being orphaned when quite young, was thrown upon his own resources, and in company with his brother operated the home farm until buying land for himself. In connection with farming he also operated a distillery, and engaged quite extensively in stock-raising. He was prospered, and finally became the owner of about twelve hundred acres, leaving at his death an estate valued at $80,000. He departed this life April 10, 1860. Politically, he was first a Whig and then a Republican.

Grandfather Wilson and his good wife reared a family of eleven children. The maiden name of the latter was Mary A. Coffield; she was born near Cincinnati, and they were married January 2, 1823. Her father, Arthur Coffield, was a native of Ireland, and a Protestant in religion. He emigrated to Ohio at an early day, and first followed his trade of a weaver, but finally went to the home of his son in Greene County, where he spent the closing years of his life. Grandmother Wilson died in 1882, in the faith of the Reformed Church.

William H. Wilson was the eldest child of his parents, and was reared to farming pursuits, which he chose for his life vocation. He operated one of his father’s farms, and at the latter’s death became the possessor of one of these comprising one hundred and fifty-five acres, and lying near Fairfield, the same upon which James M. now resides. Later he purchased thirty-four acres adjoining, and he operated this land until 1862. Then on account of failing health he retired from active labor, removing to Fairfield, where he now resides. He is a sound Republican, politically, and since 1847 has been an Elder and a Deacon in the Reformed Church.

The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Sarah Mitman. She was born in Little York, Pa., and was the daughter of Jacob Mitman, a native of York, Pa., and a farmer by occupation. He came to Ohio in the early days, and purchased land which subsequently was familiarly known as the Mitman farm. He spent his last days in Bath Township, dying at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Batdorf. Mrs. Sarah (Mitman) Wilson departed this life at her home in Fairfield, July 21, 1880. There were only three children: Mary, Mrs. Shuey, of Bath Township; Cassius M., a resident of Fairfield; and James M., our subject. Cassius served in the Union Army from the fall of 1864 until the close of the war, participating in the same battles as his brother, our subject.

Mr. Wilson, of this sketch, was born at the farm which he now occupies, January 10, 1849. He attended the district school of his neighborhood until thirteen years old, and then, in 1862, removed to Fairfield with the family, and completed a practical education. In the meantime, during the Civil War, when only fourteen years old, he enlisted, November 3, 1863, in the Eighth Ohio Independent Battery, and was mustered into service at Todd’s Barracks (named in honor of Gov. Todd), at Columbus. He was the youngest soldier of his company, with whom he went South to Vicksburg. He was engaged in garrison duty and in various raids, and at one time was badly injured by a horse falling against him.

Mr. Wilson participated in many important battles of the war, being at Jackson, Miss., on the Big Black, joining in the expedition up the Yazoo River, and was at the battle of Yazoo City. He had in charge most of the exchanged prisoners while being taken from Jackson to Vicksburg, and who subsequently lost their lives by the explosion of the ill-fated steamer, “Sultana,” on the Mississippi River, he served faithfully until the close of the war, and was mustered out by general order August 11, 1865, at Camp Denison.

This army veteran, then only a little past the sixteenth year of his age, again took up his studies, attending the High Schools at Fairfield, and in 1867 entered Heidelberg University, at Tiffin. After an attendance of two years, his health being greatly impaired, he abandoned his books and engaged in farming, renting land of his father. He was successful in his labors as a tiller of the soil, and in 1877 made arrangements to purchase a homestead. He subsequently added to it, and is now the owner of a little over one hundred and sixty acres. He has effected most of the improvements upon it, and in 1886 put up a fine frame residence, which is beautifully located, as is indeed the whole farm. The barns and outbuildings are convenient, modern structures, amply adapted to the requirements of farm life. Mr. Wilson raises grain and stock, but makes a specialty of fine horses. He has a number of valuable brood mares, considered the best in the township, and of Norman stock.

In February, 1869, Mr. Wilson was joined in wedlock with Miss Clarissa R., daughter of Samuel and Mary (Miller) Grindle. Mrs. Wilson was born October 7, 1849, in Grant County, Ind., but was reared by her maternal uncle, Paul Petro. She received a good education, and followed the profession of a teacher until her marriage. Her uncle, Petro, was one of the earliest pioneers of Greene County, where he followed farming successfully and became well-to-do. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are the parents of three bright children — Bertha A., Effie S. and Grace L. Mr. Wilson is a stanch Republican, politically, but has no desire for the cares and responsibilities of office. He belongs to the Reformed Church, with which he became identified in 1868, and to which he has contributed a liberal support. He was Deacon for many years, and is now an Elder. He is the Past Grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Fairfield, and belongs to Steele Post, No. 613, G. A. R., at the same place.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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