THE TOWN OF WILSON.
This town was erected in the same year with Lewiston. but a little later, the date being April 10, 1818, when
it was set off from Porter. It is one of the northern tier of towns in the county and borders the lake shore. It
received its name from Reuben Wilson, one of the most prominent pioneers of this locality. The surface of the town
is generally level and productive. The east branch of Twelve-mile Creek crosses the town near the center, and the
west branch crosses the northwest corner.
The first town meeting was held April 6, 1819, at the house of David Porter, and the following officers elected:
Supervisor, Reuben Wilson; town clerk, Daniel Holmes; assessors, David Burgess, John Carter, and Henry Lockwood;
collector, Oramel Hartwell; overseers of the poor, Abner Crossman, and Burgoyne Kemp; commissioners of highways,
James McKinnev, Joshua Williams, and John Carter; constables, Oramel Hartwell and Joshua D. Coller; excise commissioners,
Alexander Douglas, Reuben Wilson and Joshua Williams; fenceviewers, Jeremiah Whipple, Hiel Bixby, and Burgovne
Kemp; poundmaster, Elisba Stevens.
Reuben Wilson was then a justice and presided at this meeting. In 1824 a portion of the original town was set off
to form Newfane.
The first meeting voted $250 for bridge purposes, and $25 for the support of the poor. Bounties were placed on
wolves killed, and other usual regulations were voted for governing the community.
The following is a complete list of supervisors since the organization of the town:
In 1819-29, Reuben Wilson; 1830-32, John Carter; 1833-42. Luther Wilson; 1843-45, Robert L. McChesney; 1846-47,
Samuel R. Merwin; 1848. Alexander Pettit; 1849, Russell Robinson; 1850, R. L. McChesney; 1851, Reuben F. Wilson;
1852, Curtis Pettit; 1853, Alexander Pettit; 1854, Orsemus Ferris; 185.5-56, Luther Wilson; 1857, Orsemus Ferris;
1858, Henry N. Johnson; 1859-61, Ralph Stockwell; 1862-63, Tunis Outwater; 1864, David O. Jeffery; 1865, Benjamin
Farley; 1866, Alexander Pettit; 1867, Richard C. Holmes; 1868-70, William Hamblin; 1871-74. Benjamin Dearborn;
1875-77, Ralph Stockwell: 1878-80, Edward Baker; 1881, Stephen C. Wakeman; 1882, A. Douglass Pease; 1883-84, Martin
S. Gifford; 1885-86, O. S. McChesney; 1887-90, Samuel H. Petit; 1891-92, William H. Holmes: 1893-96, Samuel H.
Petit (resigned January 1, 1896, and T. A. Blake appointed to fill vacancy); 1896-98, J. W. Hackett.
The other town officers for 1897 are:
Charles N. Markle, town clerk: John C. Miller, Warren A. Bush, Jacob D. Irish, and Jaw K. Johnson, justices of
the peace: Samuel O. Isdell. George L. Griffin, and Walter E. Wetmore, assessors; Edward M. Woodcock, collector;
Charles Deitz, highway commissioner; E. A. Johnson, and Edward Barker, overseers of the poor.
There were only a few settlers in this town prior to the war of 1812. Henry Lockwood came from Canada in i8o8 and
took 100 acres of land from the Holland Land Company on lot 77, in the extreme northeast corner of the town. He
built his log house near the mouth of a small stream that long bore his name, and there lived until the breaking
out of the war. At the close of the war the place was transferred to John Cudaback who lived there, as also did
J. S. Cudaback.
In the same year (1808) Robert Waterhouse came from Connecticut and settled on lot 1 in the extreme south part
of the town. In 1809 Stephen Sheldon, from Jefferson county, N. Y., came with his large family and located on the
east branch of Twelve-mile Creek, half a mile from its mouth, where he built a rude dwelling place. Lots 8 and
9 had previously been assigned to him by the Holland Company. In the spring of 1811 he built a better house at
the mouth of the creek, moved into it and there died in the fall of 1812. His family remained there until the house
was burned by the British. They afterward rebuilt near by and lived there many years. In the summer of 1814 Smith
Sheldon, the third son of the pioneer, was working with four others for a Captain Brown, near Four-mile Creek,
when Brown and all of his help was captured by British troops and taken to Quebec, where Mr. Sheldon died on a
The settlements in the town were considerably increased in 1810. It was in that year that Reuben Wilson, John Eastman
and Gilbert Purdy left the Canadian shore near Toronto in April, the two former acconipanied by their families,
with household and farm utensils They rowed around the head of Lake Ontario in open bateaux, camping on the shores
at night, and in the early part of June they arrived at the mouth of Twelve-mile Creek. A mile and a half east
of there they landed, unloaded their effects, and by the aid of the boats turned bottom up and enclosed at the
sides with bark, made a temporary abiding place. They lived thus three months, during which time Wilson and Eastman
had each completed a substantial log house. John Eastman had in 1809 taken an article for 100 acres on lot 82,
and there resided until 1818, when he exchanged places with James Cole and removed into the eastern part of Hartland.
Reuben Wilson gave the following among other reminiscences to Turner:
When I came in (1819), there was scarcely an acre of ground cleared in what is now Wilson. There was no road up
and down the lake. In the fall of 1811 there was a road opened from Fort Niagara to Somerset; it was generally
along the lake shore. though deviating at the streams; at its termination, a foot path continued on to Johnson's
creek on the Ridge road. The first year after I came in I had my provisions to procure from Canada; the second
year. I raised my own: at the end of two years, I had fifteen acres of improvements. When I first began to raise
grain I had to go across to Port Hope and Hamilton for my grinding. Even after mills were built upon the Purchase,
it was easier to go across the lake, than to travel the new roads. . . . Previous to the war myself and neighbors
did our trading at Niagara. Dr. Alvord and Dr. Smith, of Lewiston, were our early physicians. We had no meetings
or schools previous to the war; after it. and up to 1820, we had but occasional preaching in the neighborhood by
missionaries. We organized a school in 1815, built a log school house; Dr. Warner was our first teacher. He was
both teacher and physician. Our school commenced with only 12 or 15 scholars. A saw mill was built in 1815 at the
month of Twelve-mile Creek, by Daniel Sheldon and Joshua Williams. I purchased the property in 1816, and built
a grist mill in 1825.
Reuben Wilson was a native of Massachusetts, migrated to Otsego county, N. Y., in 1805 and went thence to Coburg,
Canada, in 1807. After his arrival in Wilson he took up 170 acres of land on lot 82 for which he paid $2.50 per
acre. Besides erecting his buildings he cleared ten acres the first year and in the second raised a crop of wheat
which more than supplied his family, which then consisted of seven persons. To get his grain ground he had to cross
the lake to Port Hope or Hamilton. Niagara was the nearest trading point. In 1816 Mr. Wilson purchased a saw mill
which had been built the previous year, probably by Joshua Williams and Daniel Sheldon; it was situated on Twelve-mile
Creek, and his son Luther took charge of the mill. He erected a dwelling near this mill into which he moved in
1818. In 1825 he associated his son Luther with himself in business and in the same year completed the first grist
mill in the town; it stood near the saw mill, and was a great convenience to the settlers. Prior to that time and
in 1817, or thereabouts, a great oak stump had been hollowed out and a spring pole and pestle attached, to which
the people brought corn to pound into course meal from a wide district; this primitive mill was on the Lake road,
and was the only means of grinding until the Wilson mill was completed. The Wilsons also opened a store in 1825,
and the family took a leading part in all town affairs. Reuben Wilson's son Owen was the first white child born
in the town. The first marriage was that of Luther Wilson to Sarah Stephens, and the first death was that of Stephen
The Lake Shore road was the first one opened and improved in this town, extending east from Fort Niagara; it was
cut through in 1811 and the earliest settlements were made along its course. The road extending from Youngstown
to Van Horn's mill was laid out in July, 1816, by Abner Crossman and George Sheldon, road commissioners, and was
surveyed by Joseph Aiken. The so-called Town Line road, running between the seventh and eighth ranges of townships
from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania line, was the first opened extending south from the lake, and was surveyed
in May, 1816. It originally ran south from the lake two miles and then southwest to that corner of this town. It
was straightened on the old line in November, 1819. The road running south from the lake between lots 72 and 82
was laid out in 1818.
The Wilson house was not burned by the British through the following narrated occurrence:
At the time of the raid George Ash was staving at the Wilson home with his family, and starting for his farm in
Porter on horseback lie met a party of the enenly about six miles west of Wilson's. He was leading his horse and
the animal was frightened and escaped. He fled homeward on foot and arrived in time to alarm part of the neighborhood.
The few cattle in the immediate vicinity, about 25 head, were speedily collected and started down the lake, driven
by Reuben Wilson, then a boy of fifteen years, who pressed them on in advance, passing Van Horn's about sundown,
with the enemy then in sight. A few of the cows had bells which Reuben, fearing they might be heard, stuffed with
dried leaves and continued on five miles beyond, where he rested for the night. The next day he returned after
the destruction of the mill and the retreat of the invaders. The British upon coming up to Mr. Wilson's made him
their prisoner, but paroled him upon his word that he would remain at home until their return. Captain Scott, who
was in command of the troops. was a very humane officer and seeing the scanty supplies of the settlers and realizing
the utter destitution which a strict fulfillment of his instructions would cause, sent his orderly sergeant with
George Ash back from Mr. Wilson's to the fort to portray to the officer in command the situation of the inhabitants
and induce him to countermand the orders in a measure at least, but he could not be influenced to relent. Mr. Ash
was retained as a prisoner and the sergeant was sent back to his company with word to Captain Scott to carry out
his orders to the letter. On the return of the troops the next day, a small squad who were in advance of the main
body, driving some cattle which had been picked up, called at Mr. Wilson's and forced him to go with them. The
main body coming up, Mrs. Wilson had no little trouble in convincing the officers that her husband had not forfeited
his word and voluntarily left. The officers remained at Mrs. Wilson's house over night, partaking of food prepared
by Mrs. Wilson. For this hospitality, and the fact that the house stood about 20 rods from the main road, it was
not burned by them. Mr. Wilson was kept at the fort about ten days, when he was released on parole and returned
to his family. He afterwards received many favors at the hands of the British officers at the fort.
Gilbert Purdy, before mentioned, after assisting Wilson and Eastman to build their houses, went westward up the
lake, and in the fall of 1810 obtained an article for 100 acres of land on lot 26. In the following winter he built
a house there and in the spring moved his family from Coburg. He died there in 1813. His family were burned out
by the British and soon thereafter abandoned their home and returned to Canada.
Erastus Barnard came from Royalton in the summer of 1810 and lived for a time with Stephen Sheldon, who was his
father- in-law. He took up land on lot 16, made slight improvements, but sold it soon after the war and removed
to Porter. A German named May settled in the same year on lot 41, where the late Lawrence Thompson resided. He
left the place in 1812, fearing depredation by the Indians, and never returned.
Dexter P. Sprague and Robert Edwards came from Vermont in the fall of 1810 and settled on lot 63. At the commencement
of the war Mr. Sprague removed his family to the Ridge, in Hartland, and in 1815 sold his land to Adam Stevens,
who resided there until his death. Mr. Edwards was a captain in the militia and remained on his place until the
first day of the raid, when he fled with his family to the home of an acquaintance on the Ridge. His place soon
afterward passed to David Porter. James Meeker settled in the same fall on 100 acres on lot 91, arid Andrew Loys,
from Canada, on lot 75. Both these pioneers erected buildings, but fled through fear and did not return.
Three Germans from the Mohawk Valley, named respectively Vosbeck, Wood and Gray, came into the town together in
1810. Each had previously taken an article for a quarter section of land, Vosbeck and Gray on lot 25, and Wood
on lot 24. The anticipated terrors of coming war, of which they had heard from their forefathers in the Revolution,
drove them away after making considerable improvements. Their farms were afterwards purchased by Stephen, John
and David Tower, three brothers, who moved on them from Massachusetts in 1818 and became prominent citizens.
Elijah Mallory, of Coburg, Can., settled on lot 82 in 1811. As he owned a team of horses, he was required by the
government to aid in constructing the log causeway from Wright's Corners to Warren's Corners; he was afterwards
detailed to haul supplies from Williamsville, which was a military depot, to Buffalo, and died while in that service.
His family remained in Wilson many years.
With the outbreak of the war immigration almost wholly ceased for about three years, but was actively renewed in
1815-16. Daniel and George Sheldon, sons of Stephen Sheldon, were residing in Kingston, Can., at the beginning
of the war, and were drafted into the British service; but they succeeded in escaping and in 1814 came to this
town. George afterwards located on lot 17, and Daniel in company with Joshua Williams, built the first saw mill
in 1815. It stood on the west bank of Twelve-mile Creek about half a mile from its mouth.
Richard and William Knowles were also drafted into the British service, and escaped to come to Wilson, the former
locating on the west part of lot 8 and the latter on the north part of lot 7. Henry Barber and Nathan Pratt left
Canada to escape the draft and in 1815 settled in Wilson, the former on lot 89 and the latter on lot 7. John Carter
settled on the southwest part of lot 72 in the same year.
Abraham Hutchins came from Livingston county in 1816, took up the whole of lot 88, on which he settled. He was
a soldier in the war, and had an exciting experience. In 1817 John Haze, from Coburg, settled on lot 7; Nathan
Sherwood on lot 9 the northeast part, and James Cole on the east part of lot 82; he had previously located on the
Ridge. From this time onward settlers came in rapidly and the lands were soon all taken up. Many of these families
are noticed in Part III.
T. T. Upton opened the first tavern in the town in 1818; it was Situated a short distance west of the site of
Wilson village. Benjamin Douglas is said to have set up the first ashery in the town in 1817 and opened a small
store on Twelve- mile Creek near the grist mill site. He died soon afterward and his business passed to Reuben
and Luther Wilson. Peter Furrow, the first mason to locate in the town, came from Massachusetts and settled on
lot 25; he did most of the mason work in Wilson village up to 1840.
The post-office in the town was opened about 1825, with Reuben Wilson, postmaster, his son Luther acting as deputy.
Daniel Holmes was the first contractor to bring the mail through from Olcott to Youngstown.
The first and only tannery established in the town was that of Simon Sheldon, which was built about 1825. It stood
on the northwest corner of lot 7. The business was suspended after four or five years. Jeremiah Whipple built a
distillery about 1826, two miles west of Wilson village; it was operated only a few years.
Among other prominent residents of Wilson, past and present may be mentioned:
Jared H. Ackerman, on lot 58; Hiram K. Burton, on lot 30; Gilbert Brown on lot 72; Andrew Brown on lot 90; Ozro
Bachelder on lot 17; William Burton on lot 20; F. F. Barnum on lot 3; Elmer A. Bickford, produce dealer; Erwin
Burton on lot 49; Calvin Bowker, on lot 15; Daniel Carter on lot Si; Grant Cuddeback; John J. Cushing on lot 68;
Daniel Dwight on lot 26: Benjamin Farley on lot 48 (he was sheriff of Niagara county in 1857 and member of assembly
in 1867-65); Orsemus Ferris on lot 14; R. A. Ferris, on lot 53; Enoch Fitch in the west part of the town; Nathan
Gallup; Hiram H. Goodenough: Hiram Gifford on lot 3; William Hamblin and son Eli N: John Hill; Daniel Holmes, the
first town clerk, on lot 73, and his son, Richard Holmes, the first mail carrier, on lot 72, and later on lot 31;
J. C. Hopkins on lot 38; Abram Hutchings, a soldier of 1812, and his son J, Harvey; John Johnson and his sons Joseph
F., Levi L. and Harvey N.; William A. Knowles son of Richard, the pioneer, on lot 8; Guy W. Loomis on lot 70; James
M. Morse on lot 69; Capt. Sewall B. Miller on lot 81; David H. McDonald; William H. Miller; William H. Mudge; Capt
James M. Newman on lot 63; Curtis and Alexander Pettit on lot 71; William O. Pettit, son of Samuel, on lot 72;
George T. Parker on lot 21; Calvin Pratt and son Lorenzo N. on lot 82; Enoch Pease on lot 91; Christopher Palmer
on lot 38; Reuben Palmer on lot 39; Enoch Sanborn, son of Hon. Lee R. Sanborn, on lot 14, where he built the first
cheese factory in town; Homer Swick, Samuel Adams, Perrin C. Bailey, T. A. Blake, James G. O. Brown, William Brown,
William Dailey, Cephus Eaves, Frank B. Farley, P. W. Folger, William Goodfellow, Justus W. Hackett, John A. Hamblin,
John S. and Sanford Hague, William H. Holmes, Eugene Loomis, Stephen H. Morris, James M. Morse, Delos Nelson, Clinton
and George Pettit, John and Thomas Pettit, Rufus W. Pratt, James Reynolds, Guy M. and Perry W. Saulsbury, Edward
Stacev, Wilbur C. Stacey, Ralph Stockwell, Benjamin Sutherland, Augustus W. and Harvey P. Swick. Homer and Herbert
G. Swick, Arthur E. and C. Edgar Swick. Alexander and Charles Thompson, Frank H. Tower, Salem and Peter Tower,
Stephen C. Wakeman, Elisha Wilcox, Charles A. and Frank Wilson, Benjamin Wilson.
There was no resident physician in Wilson until 1824, when Dr. Jonathan Thayer came from Dutchess county and purchased
of Reuben Wilson 100 acres of land on lot 73, where he lived and practiced his profession many years. Previous
to his coming Drs. Alvord and Smith of Lewiston, and Dr. Warner, of Olcott, visited this town as needed. The first
lawyer in this town was Sylvester Parsons, Jr., who located at Wilson village in 1840.
Wilson, the only considerable village in this town is beautifully situated on the lake shore at the mouth of Twelve
mile Creek. The village takes its name, of course, from its founders, Reuben and Luther Wilson, whose early mills
here have been noticed. The place was laid out originally by Luther Wilson in 1827, and then consisted of only
a tier of lots on the north side of Young street, from Lake street to the creek. On these streets a little hamlet
gathered around the first mills and the store opened by the Wilsons. No extension of these streets and lots was
made until 1847, when Mr. Wilson made what was called the Wilson addition, and in the same year Simon Sheldon added
the socalled Wood plat in the south part. Other additions were subsequently made by Andrew Brown and John Onderdonk.
Wilson was made an incorparated village by act of the Legislature passed May 11, 1858. The corporation boundaries
were made to include 416 acres, and the population at that time had reached a little more than 700. The first village
officers chosen were as follows:
Luther Wilson, president; Luren D. Wilson. Reuben F. Wilson, Henry S. McChesney, and William P. Grout, trustees;
John Hosmer, clerk.
In 1837 Luther Wilson enlarged his grist mill and added steam power for its operation. It was later a distillery,
operated by Thomas T. Martin, and was burned about 1888. The village in its early history was very largely indebted
to Mr. Wilson's enterprise for its prosperity. He opened the first tavern in 1829, and in 1844 built a large stone
hotel on the corner of Young and Lake streets, which burned in July, 1894, and with it the First Presbyterian church.
In 1846 he obtained permission from the secretary of war at Washington to extend piers into the lake at the mouth
of Twelve-mile Creek; in that year he constructed two piers 200 feet long. The harbor thus begun was greatly improved
after that, and all the work down to 1867 was under Mr. Wilson's supervision. An act of the Legislature passed
May 9, 1867, incorporated the Wilson Harbor Company, with a capital of $10,000. Some further improvements were
made by this company, but work was suspended in 1870, when it passed into the control of the government. Since
about 1878 the piers have been slightly extended, a breakwater built, and some dredging done, at an expense of
between $30,000 and $40,000.
In 1846 Mr. Wilson built a storehouse at the harbor, and began buying and shipping grain and fruit, which was of
great benefit to the farming community. In the same year he also established a ship yard where he built for his
own use the vessel R. F. Wilson, which was em ployed in carrying freight between this port and Oswego. Through
the influence of himself, William D. Grout, and Vincent Seeley the place was made a port of entry in 1848, and
Abram Vosburgh appointed collector. Mr. S. Vosburgh is the present incumbent.
The village in past years has been quite a boat building point, about sixteen vessels having been built here. Among
former merchants were William P Grout, Benjamin Dearborn, Hezekiab Seelev, and Luther Wilson. The first lawyer
was Sylvester Parsons, jr., whose par. ents came here from Maine in 1840. The first blacksmith was Henry Johnson,
The present business interests of the village are in the hands of Charles N. Markle and A. L. Welch, general stores;
Edward Whittleton and George W. Perrigo, hardware; U Eugene Henry, Elmer A. Johnson (also postmaster), Warren A.
Bush, O. E. Vosburgh. and J. W. Hackett, groceries; Charles 0. Storrs and J. S. Burgess, shoes, etc., Mrs. E. A.
Jones and Eliphalet Swain, drugs; A. H. Reed, furniture and undertaking; L. A. and S. A. Perrigo, millinery; A.
N. Dwight, lumber; the Barnum iron foundry; E. F. Barton, harnesses; Chapman & Litchards (successors to Bush
& Chapman), steam grist mill. There are also two handsome hotels-Hotel Sutherland, built in 1895 on the site
of the Ontario House, which was burned, and the Tower Hotel, erected in 1896 where the American House had stood.
The Wilson Creamery Company was organized in 1894 with S. H. Pettit, president; C. N. Markie, secretary; and J.
W. Eggleston, treasurer. Butter was manufactured until 1897, when the manufacture of cheese was substituted. The
present officers are Hervey Sanford, president, and Charles N. Markie, secretary and treasurer.
The Star, a bright weekly newspaper, was started in Wilson in October, 1878, by Tower & Betts, who in November
of the same year sold it to Charles E. Honeywell, the present editor and proprietor.
Charles E. Honeywell, editor and publisher of the Star, was born in Toronto, Canada, March 2, 1852, and is a son
of John Honeywell and Isabella Bridgford, his wife. His father was a lieutenant and his greatgrandfather, David
Honeywell. was a colonel in the English army. His maternal great grandfather, John Stegman, was the first surveyor
in Niagara county, and acquired Goat Island at the Falls from the Indians. Mr. Honeywell was edueated in his native
city, and learned the trade of printer there, first on the Toronto Leader and afterward on the Telegram. He was
then a journeyman for several years, and in 1878 came to Wilson, Niagara county, and purchased The Star, of which
he has since been the publisher and editor. Mr. Honewell has one of the best equipped country printing offices
in the county, and has placed his paper among the leaders of Niagara journals. He is a member of Ontario Lodge
No. 376, F. & A. M., and of other organizations. March 3, 1879, he married Sarah, daughter of Charles Myers,
The officers of Wilson village for 1897 are Jay K. Johnson, president; Arthur Ackerman, and L Eugene Henry, trustees;
Charles O. Storrs, clerk; John S. Wilson, collector; Justus W. Hackett. treasurer; William Albright and Fred M.
Tabor, assessors; Lorenzo S. Wilson, Thomas Moore and John Nelson, street commissioners.
As far as is now known the first school in this town was taught evenings in 1817 by Luther Wilson, for the benefit
of adults. It was continued through the months of January and February in a dwelling about a mile south of the
site of the village. The first school house was built of logs in 1819 on the Lake road about a mile and a half
east of Wilson village. Dr. Warner taught the first day school there in that year. Another log school house, the
first in the village, was built in 1820, on the site where was subsequently erected Luther Wilson's stone residence.
Alinira Welch was the first teacher there, and was succeeded by David Murray. The town was divided into districts
as seemed to be needed, the number in 1860 being seventeen; there are now fourteen with a school house in each,
and the schools are well maintained.
In 1845 a number of persons who were deeply interested in the cause of education adopted measures to establish
in Wilson an institution for higher education. A subscription paper was circulated which was generously headed
by Luther Wilson with $500. A considerable sum was soon pledged and in that year a large two-story stone structure
was built on a site donated by Simon Sheldon. The institution was incorporated by the Regents of the University
February 19, 1846, under the name of the Wilson Collegiate Institute. It was opened with Benjamin Wilcox, principal,
and David H. Davis, assistant. The institute was moderately successful for a number of years, but ultimately the
receipts for tuition upon which it depended for support, became inadequate, and in the fail of 1869 the institution
was merged in Union School District No. 1, which consisted of four school districts of the immediate vicinity.
The trustees of the institute deeded to the union district trustees the property of the former, in accordance with
a legislative enactment, thus making it a free school. The first board of education of the union school was composed
of H. N. Johnson, president; Sylvester Parsons, Vincent Seeley, J. G. O. Brown, Jerome Gifford, Henry Sanford,
Henry Perry, W. Richardson and Lorenzo Pratt. An academic department was opened in this school in 1370. The first
principal was Prof. S. C. Hall. The present principal of the school is H. C. Hustleby.
The board of education consists of Hervey Sanford, president; Charles N. Markle, secretary; George L. Griffin,
James J. Harrington, L. Eugene Henry, Samuel O. Isdell, Benjamin Sutherland and David Morse. Elmer A. Johnson is
Besides Wilson village, there are in the town three other small hamlets and post offices, viz., East Wilson, formerly
called Beebe's Corners, in the southeast part of the town. It has also been known as the Marsh Settlement, from
Joseph Marsh, one of the pioneers of the locality. Other early settlers there were Reuben Streeter, William Woodcock,
Potter Roberts, John Pollard and Barnabas Whitney. A steam saw mill was formerly operated here, and burned in 1897.
The place contains a grocery store, two cooper shops, one blacksmith and one wagon shop, a cider mill, etc.
South Wilson is in the southern central part of the town; it is a mere hamlet and post office.
Maple Street is a post office in the east central part of the town.
In 1812 a burial ground was opened just northeast of Wilson village and later another on Reuben Wilson's land near
the grist mill. In 1846 a regular burying ground was established on the Town Line road. Luther Wilson in 1851,
donated a site of seven acres to a legally constituted board of trustees; this is known as Greenwood Cemetery.
The first church organized in this town was of the Presbyterian faith and was largely the result of efforts of
John Holmes and his son Daniel. The organization was effected at a meeting held at the house of Mr. Holmes (then
in Kempville in what is now the town of Newfane) on January 18, 1819, with six members. John and Daniel Holmes
were made ruling elders of the church, by Rev. David M. Smith, who was then pastor of the Lewiston church. Within
the next five years the membership of the society was considerably increased. The first regular pastor was Rev.
Ebenezer Everett, who came in 1823. Up to 1834 the meetings were held principally in the school house south of
Wilson village, but in that year a church edifice was erected in the village on a lot donated by Reuben Wilson.
A revival followed and the society increased rapidly. This church, as the first organized in the town, received
100 acres of land from the Holland Company. This was sold about 1833 and the proceeds used for the purchase of
property near the school house before mentioned, the dwelling thereon being used as a parsonage and for meetings
until 1838; it was then sold and a lot on Lake street, in the village, purchased and a parsonage built. This was
sold in 1855, and the present brick parsonage on Mechanic street purchased. The church, together with the stono
hotel, was burned July 10, 1894, and in 1896-97 the present handsome brick and stone edifice was erected on about
the same site at a cost of about $8,000.
Meetings of Baptists were held in this town as early as December, 1833, in the house of Russell Robinson, and later
in the school house in District No. 4. As a result of labors of Rev. Amos Reed, then of Newfane, about forty persons
experienced religion in 1834. In May, 1834, a branch of the Newfane church was formed with about ten members. This
branch was recognized as a separate organization at a meeting held October 23 of that year. It was received into
the Niagara Baptist Association June 11, 1835, with twenty-one members. Meetings were held in various places until
April 21, 1838, when the first one gathered in the school house at "Wilson Four Corners," which was the
beginning of Baptist services in Wilson village. In March, 1847, a site on the west side of Lake street was purchased
of Luther Wilson and a house built for the pastor, who was then Rev. B. F. Burr. This property was sold in 1866
and a more commodious parsonage bought in the west part of the village. In the early part of 1 843 the erection
of the stone church was commenced on a lot donated by Luther Wilson. This was torn down and in 1880 the present
wooden edifice was built on the site. There have been a great number of changes in the pastorate. but the society
is now in a reasonably active condition.
A Methodist class was formed in Wilson probably as early as 1820. The first quarterly meeting of the Lewiston Circuit,
of which this class formed a part, that was held in Wilson took place July 8. 1826. Wilson remained in that circuit
nineteen years. In August, Wilson village was set apart as a separate station. The society was incorporated December
28, 1836, with John Haze, Daniel Terry, Samuel R. Merwin, Cyrus Case, Luther Wilson, Samuel Healy and Sylvester
Hosmer, trustees. The erection of a frame church was begun in 1837 ona lot donated by Andrew Brown. The parsonage
was erected in 1846. The old frame church was finally removed and is now used as a town hall, and in 1883-84 the
Exley M. F. church was built, of brick, on the site.
A Free Methodist class was organized at Wilson, as a branch of the Porter church, about 1865, with a small membership.
In 1874 a lot was purchased in Wilson village, on Washington street, through the generosity of a few men, on which
was a dwelling and a large wagon shop. The latter was rebuilt and converted into a church and is used by the society.
The church belonged to the Porter and Wilson Circuit until 1877 when it was transferred to the Lockport and Newfane
In the southeast part of this town was formed what was known as the Chestnut Street M. F. church. It is situated
on lot 56 Marsh road. A church building was erected in 1871.
There is also an Evangelical Lutheran church on the Beebe road, in the southeast part of the town, and a German
Lutheran church about one-half mile north. St. Peter's Lutheran church, located on the Nelson road, was burned
in July, 1893, having been abandoned some time previously.