About Wellington Paul Wilson
HISTORICAL SKETCHES IN THE LIFE OF W. P. WILSON
by W. P. Wilson
Sixty-three years I have been toiling on the "journey of life" and the journey is not yet accomplished. I, looking forward on the journey, how little can I see, but in the past, what constant labor and toil, what ceaseless anxiety and care, what hopes not matured and fears have passed away. What dangers of every kind have I escaped. A few dangers have been foreseen and avoided, but many were not seen till the danger was passed, and how many dangers have passed all unseen I know not.
In the lapse of 50 and even to 60 years past the remembrance of passing events and transactions have accumulated on my mind till my memory is burdened and seeks relief in writing and what if I should cause "A Book of Remembrance" to be written, the present benefit to be a relief to my over-burdened memory, and in the future it may be a benefit to my posterity and their rising generations in that day when the "Hearts of the children shall be turned to their fathers."
In an over-crowded memory some things are liable to be displaced and as no notes are preserved and nothing in the shape of a "Journal of Travels," dates, etc., I shall pass by some things that might be of some interest but not remembered sufficiently plain to place in a plain record. I do not propose to paraphrase or eulogize nor yet to romance but only to note facts as they really occurred, myself being eye or ear witness.
Parentage, lineal descent, heirship, father's personal appearance, religious views, obeys the Gospel, called to rest.
My father was born in Petersham, State of Massachusetts, July 2nd, 1769 and was named Deliverance. He was a lineal descendant of Benjamin Wilson who emigrated from England to America in the year 1664 and settled near Boston. His (Benjamin Wilson's) father, Robert Wilson died in England possessed of a large land and agricultural estate and also a large estate in city property in London. For further particulars concerning the heirship, how the heirs were dispossessed of the estate, etc., see "Report of the Wilson Association" by H. O. Smith 1855.
Deliverance Wilson, when a boy with his father's family, was moved to the State of Vermont where he lived till about the year 1799 when he married Lovina Fairchild. She was born in Arlington, State of Vermont, February 10, 1774. They settled in Burlington, Vermont, where I was born. My father was a man, resolute and strong, over medium height, heavy set, full features, light complexion, large blue eyes, sandy whiskers, and brown hair, average weight 187. He could pick up a barrel of cider from the ground and lower it into an ox cart. He was no religionist, rather a free thinker till at the age of 67, he heard and obeyed the "Gospel" in Kirtland, Ohio. Two years afterwards in Illinois he was called to rest.
I cannot here forbear to add a tribute to my father's memory as touching his religion. He was no scoffer, a man of few words. Rather slow spoken, willing for everyone to enjoy their own conscientious belief as a constitutional right which he held sacred to liberty. He had no bad habits in a moral sense, strictly honest, always obliging. His religious test was, "Do they do to others as they would have others do to them."
My mother's ancestry, personal appearance, religion, children, obeys the gospel, left a widow, called to rest.
My mother, as I have said, was Lovina Fairchild. Her father descended from a family of Fairchilds that came from England in the last part of the 17th century and settled in Massachusetts. It was believed in my mother's time that no others of the name had emigrated to America, but the Fairchilds are very numerous. Her mother's name was Wooley, descended from a family of Wooleys that emigrated from Scotland (I believe) and settled on Long Island.
In her personal appearance she was slender built, medium height, quite fair complexion, eyes and hair raven black, quick and active, quick of apprehension, quick spoken, and lived to read and meditate and talk of Heaven and divine things, and was always full of the best religion she could find. It was the spring of 1836 that my mother with my father obeyed the gospel and were baptized in Kirtland, Ohio. She was left a widow at my father's death and remained for several years always full of faith till she was called to rest.
As a last tribute to her memory, I must say that she was a praying mother and taught her children and me her youngest boy in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord." She early inspired my tender little mind with such a perfect hatred for swearing and drinking that a profane oath has never yet escaped from my lips and I have not once drank to excess the intoxicating cup. Thanks for the sacred influence of a praying mother. I will rise up and call her blest. Thanks for the example and precept of both father and mother that early taught me to abhor and shun these and kindred evils, and in the hand of Providence has kept me from the "fowler's snare."
Father's family, children, sickness, all passing away, reflections.
My father was a "well-to-do" farmer in his time, always healthy and strong, but I the children were much subject to sickness and their mother was often sick. Several times when I was young, I remember she was considered "nigh unto death."
Of 10 children born, one died in infancy, two in childhood and three in early youth. Four only lived to have families and in 1870 two only of them •were left. All the others have passed away. Two left, two brothers left alone. And now while the painful thoughts of former times glide over my soul, I hope you will pardon my digression while I wander off and indulge in a few reflections, bearing more on the present time. I said only two are left and might I ask, why are they left? They have encountered many and great dangers. They have passed through unhurt "where pestilence walketh in darkness and destruction at noon day." They have escaped in the very place where Death itself sat angling to catch them for his prey. But now they meet weary and worn with the many footsteps have neared the brink of the "dark river" and begin to feel the chilling spray of the tidal wave that "bears poor mortals from that shore of time." Possibly then that they, those two, can yet do a work for the departed to facilitate their happy return to earth, in that morning when the "trumpet blows." 0alas, how can I leave that work, and how can I leave the subject. How can I be content to sit and sigh, "Hush thee, my dear, lie still and slumber."
The time of my birth, infancy, childhood.
I was the ninth in order of number among the ten children in my father's family and was born the first day of February, 1814, in the town (now city) of Burlington, State of Vermont. My mother often told me of that time. She had been poorly and I was so little and trifling, how could I live? And she almost despaired of her own life. She was so prostrate and too weak to nurse or offer me any nourishment. But my sister, Sarah, oldest of the family, about 19, single, and at home, took me to her bosom and fed me from a bottle and nursed me and cared for me day and night during my mother's confinement, which if I remember right, she told me was near six months. Mother said I appeared to be healthy at first, but grew very slow. I told her (joking) they had heaped so much name on me how could I grow? Wellington Paul was name enough to check the growth of any little baby, as she said I was, and I wondered how they could give me such a name. She said when my father first found he had another boy he said, "His name shall be Wellington."
She did not like me to be called after a fighting general, but he had said it with such an air of earnestness she would not object. Still she wanted me to have a "scripture name" and she called me "Paul." When I was nearly two years old, I walked alone and soon took the whooping cough, and before it was half through I took the measles and had both together. I was left with something like what they call rickets. My recovery was very slow, and my growth had been hindered till at the age of 5 or 6, I was too little to mention, though very shy and active, and with all I was left-handed My mother said she quite despaired of my ever growing up into the smallest size of manhood and spoke of Peter Drew the very smallest man she ever saw, and she did fervently wish I might grow to be as big as he. My mother had but three boys of which I was the youngest. The oldest named Steven died at the age of nine. The other named George Deliverance, about seven years old when I was born, is still living.
But I was growing all the time and though I was yet so small, and in [the] winter I was ten years old I was sick with what the doctor called Typhus Fever and for six weeks my mother was over me day and night with scarcely any sleep. When I recovered so they could carry me to the window to look out it was too much for me, but I was soon able to go out and began to grow very fast, [even] though I had spells of sickness, some of them very severe, till I was eighteen. When I was 23, I was as tall as my father and weighed over 160 pounds.
My chances for education [were] limited to the common District School which I generally attended winters. I was always fond of reading, particularly the Bible and religious books, the different beliefs of Christians, their discourses, biographies, but never novels. I was always very susceptible of religious impressions. At the age of twelve my anxiety and deep concern of mine' had so increased that I could not be happy. I went to different religious meetings, Congregational, Methodist, and such others as I could. I heard first class preachers; among them were those of the higher order of intelligence. All spoke from "Is there no Balm in Gilead," but their Gilead had no balm for me. Yet no mortal knew of my feelings. They were all my own. I examined very closely my own actions and feelings but could not see why I should feel so condemned. Then I took up the commandments known as the Ten Commandments in the Bible and read them carefully one by one, but none of them condemned me except the one, "The first and great commandment," and why should I be condemned for not keeping that when the best Christians that no man on earth ever did or ever would keep it? Here I could go no further, for not only myself but all the good Christians and all the world were in a very bad fix. So I thought I would just let the Lord fix it himself, still believing that he would do right, but no relief came to my mind, till awaking one night in midnight darkness, another wave of darkness rolled right over me. I shut my eyes but it was so dark I could feel it. It was followed by a clear light, like a burning light, and so light [that I] could feel it as if I was all lit up, and such joy and peace and comfort, all my sadness was turned to glory, well to me it was glory. Morning came. I was still happy, and at night I did not feel the darkness though the light was not always so bright. Now I don't wish to say I saw the light with my eyes, for aught I know they might have been still shut. I will not try to tell any further what I experienced. My mother observed a change in me, but I would not tell her, but I wrote some verses and read to her. It is the first of my own composition that has been preserved and I will copy it here without any correction, every word just as I wrote it.
A Morning in May
Thou art risen, brilliant orb of day
Upon thy Orient throne
And o'er the land a morning ray
of light refulgent shone.
Nature rejoices, verdant spring
Has borrowed robes of May
And every animated thif).g
Its pleasure doth display.
The feathered brilliances of air
Their notes, melodious raise
and prune their wings and plumage fair
Amid the morning blaze.
But man, in nature's darkness still
Sees but a glimmering light
His heart no melody can feel
His ear hath no delight.
Gloomy to him, the sun, the sky.
A stranger still to peace
Until the brighter sun doth rise
The Son of Righteousness.
Thou Son of Righteousness alone
With healing on thy wings
Ascend upon they azure throne
Whence rays of glory springs.
Shine through hearts, Our Father's Son,
And we respond, "Thy will be done
And thine be all the praise."
Christians, Sunday Meetings, Sunday Schools.
The majority of the people where my father lived were recorded among the Christians and belonged mostly to the Christian Churches, and had their Sunday and other meetings and Sunday Schools which I sometimes attended, but there was no religious excitement. I worked hard with my father and older brother but I found much time to read and study. I was interested in the study of Christianity, its changes, the origin of the different churches, their conflicting creeds, and their scripture proofs. In a few years religious excitement increased and religion ran high. Reformations, conversions, great revival. The preachers said it was "a great harvest of souls." My brother older than I went to the Methodist, and was baptized, and tried to preach but "a dispensation of the gospel" was not committed to him. My sister younger than I went to the same church and became a great help to them in their prayer meetings, but W. P. was not moved though the preachers angled for him, yet I did not ask them for their prayers, for I knew and was certain that their's was not the true faith. My mother thought I ought to join the church. She belonged to the church and was sure her prayers and faith had been a means of saving my life. I did not doubt it in the least, but the church did not believe in miracles, but their preacher says that "a mother's prayers will conquer Heaven" and a mother's prayer is more to me than faith of the church, but she seemed to
(The history ends here, evidently more was written but has not been preserved)
Wellington Wilson's Timeline
February 1, 1814
February 2, 1836
September 27, 1837
near Charleston, Cole, Illinois, United States
October 20, 1838
Charleston, Coles, Illinois
December 7, 1839
September 18, 1841
Hancock, Illinois, United States
October 9, 1843
Hancock, Illinois, United States
January 27, 1846
Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, United States
December 10, 1846
Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, United States
April 4, 1848
Lee, Iowa, United States