Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Sr.

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Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Sr.

Also Known As: "John"
Birthplace: Steubenville, Jefferson, Ohio, USA
Death: January 21, 1903 (80)
at the residence of his son, Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Place of Burial: Columbia, Richland, South Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Judge James Wilson and Anne Wilson
Husband of Janet "Jessie" E. Wilson
Father of Marion Morton Kennedy; Annie Josephine Howe; Thomas Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States and Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Jr.
Brother of William Duane Wilson; Mary Jane Larimore; Robert Crawford Wilson; Rev. James Emmet Wilson; John Adams Wilson and 5 others

Occupation: Presbyterian clergyman
Managed by: Lori Lynn Wilke
Last Updated:

About Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Sr.

Find A Grave Memorial


  • Birth: 1822
  • Death: 1903

Family links:


  • James Wilson (1787 - 1850)
  • Mary Ann Adams Wilson (1771 - 1863)


  • Janet E. Woodrow Wilson (1830 - 1880)


  • Annie Josephine Wilson Howe (1853 - 1916)*
  • Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924)*
  • Calculated relationship

Note: President Woodrow Wilson father

Burial: First Presbyterian Churchyard Columbia Richland County South Carolina, USA

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Created by: Anonymous (inactive) Record added: Apr 04, 2004 Find A Grave Memorial# 8596199


The State, Columbia, S.C., January 24, 1903: Joseph Ruggles Wilson.

Rev. Joseph Ruggles WIlson, D.D., LL.D., who died in Princeton, N. J., and whose funeral was conducted from the First Presbyterian church yesterday, was a man whose "passing" deserves more than casual mention. He belonged to a somewhat large class of men who were born and reared in the north but who came south in early manhood and became thoroughly identified with the section of their adoption. Dr. Wilson made Virginia his home just ten years before the great civil strife was joined. At the actual outbreak of the war he was a resident of Augusta, Ga., and pastor of the First Presbyterian church of that city, one of the leading churches of the south. It was in this church, in that memorable year 1861, that the Southern Presbyterian church was organized by the presbyteries lying within the territory of what was then the Confederate States of America, and which has ever since preserved its seperate existence in spite of all the many and manifold inducements offered it to unite again with the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, popularly known as the Northern Presbyterian church. The leading spirit in that organizing movement was the brilliant South Carolina genius, teacher and orator, James Henley Thornwell; the moderator of the assembly was Benjamin M. Palmer and the clerk of the body was Joseph R. Wilson, pastor of the church in which the meeting was held.

It was inevitable therefore, that Dr. Wilson should have a prominent part in moulding the character and shaping the course of the organization just starting on its career in such critical, troublous times. It was a juncture that called for the guidance of ecclesiastical statesmen, men acute, able and discreet; men wise to discern the times; men who were master builders. The men needed were not wanting and the papers then adopted amid all the travail of those times, in the storm and stress of passion unparalleled, remain models of moderation to this day, monuments whose inheritors feel no call to modify or amend, and to which after forty odd years they still point with pardonable pride. The position Dr. Wilson took in that initial assembly he held with growing influence till increasing infirmity led to his retirement a few years ago. From 1861 to 1898 he was the clerk of the General Assembly, present annually at every meeting. This fact gave acquaintance with the church in all sections, and a famillarity with its history, and an understanding of its precedents not shared by any one else and made him easily one fo the most influential men in the whole denomination.

He was a man rarely qualified to maintain such a position: highly gifted by nature, he was one dowered with scholarly instincts, developed and enriched by ample culture, crowned with the wisdom that comes from ripe experience as a man of affairs, and with all his rich resources ready for instant use in facile, fluent speech, he would have been a leader in any body to which he belonged, a leader by the divine right of royalty. As a writer he had few equals and possibly no superior in ecclesiastical circles. There was nothing flamboyant in his rhetoric, his taste was for too fastidious for the bizarre to any degree or in any direction: but for a style clear, perspicuous, chaste, individual without eccentricity and beautiful without weakness he was remarkable. He prepared his discourses with great care and was listened to with great delight by large audiences of the most cultured people; his sermons would bear printing simply as specimens of pure, lofty literature.

He was an ornament to any circle, courtly and courteous, genial and affable, sparkling in epigram, overflowing with exuberant bonhommie, he was a companion to beguile the longest, weariest hours and give life to their most leaden feet. His personal presence was eminently fit for the man; in his prime he was as handsome a specimen of magnificent manhood as one would find in a day's journey, one among a thousand.

In all the positions and relations of life he was highly favored; few of his fellows have had the rich wine of existence in fuller measure than he, and now that he is gone it is gathered about him in such an ideal situation--that his last hours should be spent in the thoroughly congenial home of the distinguished son in whom his love and his pride found such open and just joy, ministered to by his tenderly loved and loving daughter and surrounded with every influence that could mitigate the approach of that inevitable hour that was to round out 80 years of fruitful life. One by one the great men who have made our history in church and State are leaving us, and it is most fitting that in such cases the youth of our southland should be asked to pause and consider the men the mantle of whose mission is falling on their shoulders and recognize and appreciate the character which alone can prove worthy to wear such mantles.


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Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Sr.'s Timeline

February 28, 1822
Steubenville, Jefferson, Ohio, USA
October 20, 1850
Canonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania, United States
Virginia, United States
December 28, 1856
Staunton, VA, United States
July 20, 1867
Augusta, Richmond County, GA, United States
January 21, 1903
Age 80
at the residence of his son, Princeton, New Jersey, United States
beside his wife in the First Presbyterian Churchyard, Columbia, Richland, South Carolina, United States