Wilson - William - Blind Billy - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Wilson - William - Blind Billy

Note: Although not ALL of the information below is about Blind Billy, it is about someone in his family -- I'm also not sure exactly who sent it but it's GREAT & so appreciated. Many of Blind Billy's descendants still live in the Waveland-Russellville area ! kbz
The following paragraphs [2] were copied from family notes which had been hand written by Ruby Wilson Dragoo, the 2nd great granddaughter of William Wilson and Nancy Ann Bell. "Wm Wilson, a man of English, Scotch & Welch decent was born in England in 1749. He married Nancy Ann Bell in Ireland [she was of Irish & English decent]. They emigrated to America in the year 1775 on account of more religious freedom in the New World. While en route to America, Thomas Wilson was born in Mid-ocean. They settled near Philadelphia for a while, then moved to South Western Ohio, where they purchased land on White Water River near Cincinnati and later purchased land and settled in Fleming Co., Ky., near Flemingsburg."
-------------- * Note: I'm not sure who the compiler mentioned below is but THANK YOU SO MUCH for sending this great work our way :) --------
In mid 1998 this compiler received from Rose Sheldon Newton, 4th great granddaughter through John Alexander Wilson's daughter, Elta Wilson, various information concerning land purchases made by William in Penlick County, Ohio.

And, a genealogist from Kentucky says: "William Wilson was an early settler of Fleming County, Kentucky and purchased land of George Stocton as early as 1790." The first record found of his being in Kentucky was in the county of Mason. Deed Book C., pg. 344, in which the following was recorded: "July 6, 1796 - George Stockton and wife Rachel to William Wilson and wife Ann for the sum of 150 pounds - - 500 acres of land on the water of Fleming."

The receipt given to William Wilson for this land has been preserved and reads: "Received of William Willson two thousand weight Iron and castons and thirty pounds worth of hors trade and twenty pounds in cash in all one hundred and fifty pounds being in full pay for the same five hundred acres of land for which the said Willson hais my bond I say recieved by me this 25 day of July 1796." George Stockton.

Evidently William Wilson didn't settle on this land for a while because the records in Mason County, Kentucky shows: "William Wilson appointed Michael Cassity, of Fleming County power of attorney for purpose of ejecting all persons who may settle on a tract of land 500 acres in my name County Fleming on water of branch of Fleming known by the name of Wilson Run." 13th Day of Mar. 1798 Witness: Daniel Wilson; John Jones; Thomas Dougherty [These receipts copied with exact spelling as original. They were shared with this author by the same Rose Sheldon Newton, a descendant of William Burtin Wilson.

Among the old receipts there are two that date back prior to the one for land in 1796. They are dated 1787 and read: "Recd 23rd March 1787 of William Willson the quantity of Six hundred & nine pounds of Bar Iron and likewise three hundred and ninety one pounds castings." Recd by Mr. George Stockton Rachel A Tax receipt for 1798 reads: "Recd of Wm Willson the sum of 2- 2/7 in full of his levy & tax for the year 1798." April 26, 1800. William McCormick, Fleming County sold to William Wilson for 15 pounds of money, 1 gray mare 3 brindle Cows 1 red cow and calf." The above transaction was also recorded in the court records of Fleming County. Bk. A p. 287. Other Receipts: May 28, 1800 – Rec’d of Wm Wilson 2.58-1/2 cents in full of his levy and tax for the year 1799. G. Stockton for A. B. "For value rec'ved I promise to pay or cause to be paid unto Wm Wilson three pounds two shillins to be paid in carpenter work on demand as witness my hand & seal Augest forth 1802." Jacob Mahan seal Attest John H. Lee -- Received Feb 8 1804 of William Wilson by the hand of Thomas Doughtery three dollars and sixteen cents in full of his revenue tax and levy for the year 1802 G. Stockton D. S. G. Ruddell

Though Thomas Wilson's birth is reported as having taken place in Pennsylvania in the 1850 Mortality Report for Putnam County, Indiana, Thomas, the son of William and Mary Wilson was born mid-ocean on board the liner carrying William and Mary to the USA from Ireland.'

- In 1814, upon the death of his beloved father, Thomas and his brother, John, received from the estate the wagon, and all the gears belonging thereto. In addition, Thomas received the doctor book and dictionary, and saddle bags. John in turn received Brown's filly.
Thomas later ... together with two of his brothers, John and Samuel, removed to Putnam County Indiana at an early date [Putnam Co., History]. " Thomas Wilson and Jane Hughes were married on July 25th 1805. They, as were their parents, zealous members of The Presbyterian Church; but during the revival at Cane Ridge in 1801 The Wilson and the Hughes families embraced the views of Barton W. Stone. " In the year 1826, Thomas Wilson with his wife and seven children emigrated from Ky. in covered wagon and entered land in Putnam Co. [Three miles south east of Russellville.] Much labor was required to remove the dense forest that covered all of their land. As soon as they had erected their log cabin, it was converted into a house of prayer. In it, Thomas Wilson brought together his few neighbors and held a prayer meeting, at which time they decided to organize a small church, and they took unto themselves the name given first in Antioch [Acts 11:19-22-"26"] (called Christians first in Antioch.) Therefore as of Moses it may be written of Thomas Wilson "this is he that was with the church in the wilderness." Prayer meetings continued being held in Thomas Wilson's home and in other homes of neighbors in the Hebron community. As often as Thomas Wilson could secure the services of a minister, he would again call his neighbors together for preaching services. [One of the two certainties of life is taxes; and a small piece of scrap paper was a receipt for tax which Thomas Wilson paid in the year 1827. Thomas, a resident of the Russell Township, his state and county tax for the year was $1.00 due to the 160 acres [with improvements] owned by him. In 1829, and then owning 400 acres, the tax was only $1.12. By 1833 he owned 560 acres of land and paid $82.75 state and county tax. By 1837, taxes had gone up to $7.03.] References to taxes taken from " History of Putnam Co."
Finally, in March, 1829, James Hughes [brother of Jennie Hughes Wilson] came from Kentucky to visit his sister and her family. In March of 1829 James Hughes of Ky. held services in the home of Philip Gardner. He preached the "ancient gospel" to the people of this "The Hebron Community" that Baptism in connection with faith and repentance was divinely appointed for the remission of sins. This doctrine caused no small "stir" among some of the people who had never heard a sermon on Baptism, but it was, never-the-less, very generally well received. Eighteen persons were added to this little church that had been first established in the little log cabin of Thomas Wilson; the first to make his confession was William Wilson- the blind son of Thomas and Jennie Hughes Wilson; Wm. Wilson with the 17 others - confessed their Savior before men and were straight way buried with Him by Baptism. The congregation organized and elders were chosen: Tobias Grider, and Thomas Wilson, who served in that capacity until his death on March 5th 1850. The following summer in August of 1829, Elder Hughes returned to Putnam Co., and held meetings in the homes of Andrew and Phillip Gardner at which time 42 persons made their confessions and were baptized--The church was now fully established with a membership of 80 - at this time the church was named "The Hebron Christian Church." [ In preparing the ground for these meetings in the large Gardner grove, a most serious accident occurred. A large overhanging limb fell from a tree and struck a young man, Albert Wilson, on the head, killing him instantly. His body was laid to rest almost at the place of his death, he being the first to be buried in the Forgy Cemetery.] The first regular minister was Michael Coombs and the church met in the homes of its members until in the 1840's when a log church was erected on land donated by Thomas Wilson.
The following is a description of Michael Combs taken from "Crawfordsville, A Pictorial History" by Pat Cline. "
Michael Combs had a desire to preach the gospel but it was years before he found a location where he was fully accepted. He purchased land in Montgomery Co., {Indiana} in 1826, where he was finally excepted as a "worthy preacher." People flocked to hear what "this babbler" had to say. The views he presented found favor among the people and that day became the beginning of active operations in a new and extensive field. It was the early dawn of the, reformation, and Combs found himself right in the midst of it."]
In 1864 the log church burned and the old Hebron Church remembered today was erected on the same site five years later. It was dedicated on Feb. 20, 1870 by O. P. [Oliver] Badger, Bud Johnson, J. H. Kuhn, A. J. Frank, L. E. Murray, E. B. Scofield, and Jack Ashly. By 1901 the membership had grown to 230. Old leaders had passed away, or lost their influence, and, since Russellville was becoming the social, educational, and cultural center of the community, it was decided to move to town. In 1904 it was decided to spend $9,000 for a new building in Russellville. Jack Ashley was the pastor and lead the drive for funds that resulted in raising $5,000. Much labor was donated and the present Christian Church was built. On Nov. 26, 1905 the new church was dedicated by Rev. F. M. Raines, whose fund raising efforts brought in $600 more than the previous one. Except for some remodeling and redecoration, the building remains today essentially the same structure. The present congregation is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ. Above information taken from both Ruby Wilson Dragoo notes and "History of Putnam Co., Indiana. Putnam county information began on pg. 337-338.
Text to follow taken from Putnam County History, pg. 343. "On March 5, 1850 the old pioneer, Thomas Wilson born 1775, was buried on a small knoll west of his original log cabin. This started the Hebron Cemetery. He and his wife, Jane Hughes, 1789-1876, were the only ones buried there who were both born in the 18th Century."
Obituary copied from the Christian Record, Vol. VII No XI published in Bloomington, Ind. May, 1850: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
William Wilson received land, according to the provisions of the act of Congress of 24 April, 1820, entitled "An Act making further provision for the sale of the Public Lands," the north east quarter of Section twenty-three, in Township Eleven North of Russellville five west, in the District of Land subject to sale at Vincennes, Indiana, containing 160 acres. The original document was signed by Martin Van Buren, President of the U.S., on the first day of October 1840. It is recorded Volume 51, page ---, General Land Office, Vincennes.
Ruby Wilson Dragoo's notes continue: "Among the new members of the church [Hebron] were several young men nearly all of whom began at once to pray in public and some of them began preaching-- Indeed - but few of the Disciples of that early day were ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the absence of Preachers [of whom there were but a few] these young men "considered one another to provoke unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of themselves together" as the manner of some "is". Foremost among the young disciples was William Wilson, better known as 'Blind Billy' Wilson, who entered upon his public ministry soon after his immersion in 1828: At first his efforts were rather feeble owing to his inability to read the Bible: But as his heart's and prayer to God; were that he might become an able minister of the New Testament, his father, Mother and other relatives and friends read the Bible to him: as they read-they told him the Book, chapter number and verses - and stimulated by his desire to teach and preach according to the grace given him from on high, he memorized the entire New Testament, and when the scriptures were read to him, he had learned and remembered, The Book, Chapter and verse that was being read to him. Thus "Blind Billy" Wilson became one of the pioneer preachers of Indiana, Ohio and Ky. & Illinois and organized and dedicated a number of Churches in this and other states- some of the local churches include The Haw Creek Christian Church, The Fincastle Christian Church and the Parkersburg and Parkville Christian Churches & the Old Somerset Christian Church. Until the Hebron Church was built, meetings continued to be held in homes in winter time and rainy weather; and, in the summer time meetings were held in a grove near the home of Andrew Gardner - which is the present location of the Forgey graveyard. The first Hebron Church building was erected in 1830 of hewn logs on the Thomas Wilson farm, the logs and all of the building material was from the land owned by Thomas Wilson: The new church was dedicated by John M. Harris - husband of Jane Wilson Harris. In the year 1864 - this first church building was set afire and completely destroyed: In 1869 - the present structure was erected exactly on the spot where the first church had been burned. All of the timber and material used in building this second church - was cut and hauled from the farm of "Blind Billy" Wilson. The new church was dedicated by Oliver P. Badger on Feb. 20, 1870.
Newton's Obituary from newspaper clipping saved by Edith Wilson Sutherlin, niece of Newton's. Publication of Nov. 24, 1927 : "Newton Wilson, son of William and Susannah Goff Wilson, was born near Russellville, Indiana, Oct. 31st, 1841, and departed this life Nov. 13th 1927, at the age of 86 years and 12 days. He was the third of a family of nine children, two dying in infancy, and four others having reached their 80th mile stone before passing to the Great Beyond. He united with the Hebron Christian Church at the age of twelve, attended school at the Academy of Ladoga, Indiana and began his work as a minister of the Gospel at the age of twenty. With the help of his father [familiarly known as Blind Billy Wilson,] one of the pioneer preachers of the Christian Church, they organized a number of churches in Indiana and Kentucky. On Nov. 12th, 1867, he was united in marriage to Mary Frances Vickery, from whom he was separated by death Sept. 25th, 1925. To this union two sons were born, D. M. Wilson of Indianapolis and W. W. Wilson of East Orange, New Jersey. He leaves to mourn their loss, his two sons, eight grandchildren, one great-grand-child, and one brother, Mr. John H. Wilson, of Roachdale, Indiana, and a host of other relatives and friends. After more than fifty years of active service as a minister he retired on account of failing health, but often acted as a supply minister for the Christian Church at Alexandria. He lived consistant with the faith he proclaimed. Those virtues which constitute a christian life were found in him. He loved his neighbors and was loved and respected by them. His last months were filled with sorrow and affliction which he bore with uncomplaining patience. The last last eighteen months of his life were spent in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Elbert Collins, at Alexandria where he received every care and attention that was possible to be given by strangers. It was there he was when the call (Document ends)
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