MATHEW WILSON. The annals of Pawnee County have a favorable record of two Mathew Wilsons, father and son, both of whom have been successful farmers and ranchers, and their work and activities here have been continuous since 1880. Mathew Wilson rose above the station of humble circumstances and lowly beginnings, and died one of the leading farmers, business men and citizens of Keysville Township.
The head of the family when it came to Kansas was the late Mathew Wilson, who arrived in Pawnee County February 22, Washington's Birthday, in 1880. He was born in County Antrim, Ireland, July 4, 1827, and was of Scotch parentage, his father, also Mathew Wilson, having died in Scotland and leaving a family of five sons and a daughter, named Hugh, William, John, Mathew, George and Eliza. Mathew Wilson, Sr., was the only one of these children to come to America to make his home. He was married in Ireland to Elizabeth Moore, a daughter of John Moore. She was born in County Antrim, Ireland, May 4, 1831, and died in Kansas January 6, 1910, while her husband passed away January 6, 1908.
After coming to America Mathew Wilson, Sr., lived some years in Will County, Illinois. A large family of children were growing up about him, and while he was industrious and full of energy he could not see a solution of the problem of economic existence in Illinois. He therefore came west to Kansas and homesteaded the southeast quarter of section 26, township 22, range 19. On that farm he spent the rest of his days. He was a practical farmer, a man of inexhaustible energy, though of medium build, weighing only 160 pounds. He was constantly busy and he used good judgment in his work, a fact which doubtless accounts for his generous success.
The pioneer shelter of the Wilson family in Pawnee County was a small two-room house. Within its narrow quarters eight persons had to find room. Mr. Wilson, Sr., began farming with four head of horses, ten cows and some implements which he had brought to Kansas. The first two years he harvested no crop at all. That the family might not starve the sons hired out to labor and did such strenuous toil as breaking the sod, feeding cattle, working as cowboys and in any other honorable occupation. The third year a small crop of wheat was harvested. From the very first wheat had been a factor in the plans of farm operation and through it much of the prosperity of the family has been realized. The herd of cows brought from Illinois gave them a start in cattle raising and also furnished meat for the table and other provisions. Mr. Wilson in time became a very extensive cattle man, and his grade of the White Face Herefords were some of the best cattle on the plains of this section. There were very few fences, the range was wide and plentiful, and while it cost very little to produce cattle there was practically no profit since good steers frequently sold as low as $10 a head.
In those early years it was hardly worth while to acquired ownership of land, since the use of the range was unrestricted. But with the gradual taking up and breaking up of the range Mr. Wilson came to a point in his career where he needed land for his operations and began buying at the price of $500 for a quarter section. He continued adding to his holdings until the price had risen to $27.50 an acre. He finally called his estate complete when he owned seven quarter sections. This large farm he divided among his three sons and two daughters. The little frame house in which they had first sheltered themselves on coming to Kansas was in time converted into a nine-room house. A barn 40 by 60 feet was erected and there was ample protection for the cattle, for the crops and for the implements. Mr. Wilson died before the automobile became a familiar presence on the roads of Kansas and he was well satisfied with his well bred Clyde and Percheron horses. In politics he was interested only to the extent of casting his vote as a good and loyal republican. He never missed an opportunity to vote but steadfastly declined any official honor. He was very active in the local Methodist Church, and in his section of Pawnee County stands what is known as Wilson Chapel, named for him. He gave the site for the church and contributed substantially to the erection of the building. He was never a member of any lodge. His wife was also very active in the Wilson Chapel and taught a class in the Sunday school.
Mathew Wilson, Sr., and wife had the following children: James, who became a successful farmer in Pawnee County and died there; Annie, wife of Thomas Davis, of Garfield, Kansas; William, a farmer in Pawnee County; Mathew; Lizzie, wife of George A. Couchman, of Pawnee County; John, who died as a young man; and an adopted son, Clarence Stephens, now a farmer in Keysville Township.
Mathew Wilson, Jr., was about twelve years of age when he was brought to Kansas and has an interesting recollection of all the hardships and inconveniences of the early years. He was born back in Illinois January 13, 1868. He attended the public schools of his native state and also the schools of district No. 42 in Pawnee County. He worked to put in the crops and improve the land of his father's homestead, and kept up his full share of responsibilities as a member of the family. After he became of age he established his own home on the southwest quarter of section 24, township 22, range 19. The patent to this quarter section was signed by Grover Cleveland as President of the United States. He and his wife began housekeeping with a minimum of equipment, just as their parents had done before them. The little shanty which was their first home is now doing duty as a washhouse to the larger modern residence. The old house was 14 by 20 feet, and Mr. Wilson and his wife sometimes wonder how they managed to get along in such limited quarters. However, it served as a home in which happiness flourished for seven years. It was then enlarged, end with changes and modifications it continued to serve the family needs until 1916. In that year the splendid modern home of fourteen rooms was erected and now there is nothing to be desired at their home in the way of conveniences and comforts. In 1912 Mr. Wilson erected a modern barn 40 by 60 feet, and this and other buildings add to the substantial appearance of his place.
Throughout his career as a Kansas farmer Mr. Wilson has been a wheat raiser. His best yield per acre was forty-three bushels. The best average per acre was twenty-eight bushels. In 1914 his crop threshed out more than 14,000 bushels from about 500 acres. The big harvest of 1903 gave him an aggregate of 18,000 bushels. The most profitable crop came in 1914 but in 1917 he was paid for his 1916 crop the price of $1.82 a bushel. Along with grain growing he has combined stock raising and for a number of years has kept a thoroughbred stallion and has raised Percheron horses. His cattle are the Shorthorns. He markets his stock direct from the pasture and feed lot.
Besides the many substantial interests he has in the country district Mr. Wilson is a stockholder in the Farmers Co-operative Mill and Elevator Company of Garfield and a stockholder in the Garfield State Bank. He served twelve years as treasurer of his school district, for six years was trustee of Keysville Township and is now its treasurer. He began voting as a republican in 1892, casting his ballot in that campaign for President Harrison. He has been interested in politics only to the extent of keeping up his party and serving as county committeeman of his township. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are active members of the Wilson Chapel and he is a member of its board of trustees. His only fraternity is the Modern Woodmen of America.
He was married January 14, 1902, in Pawnee County, to Miss Katie Brown. Mrs. Wilson was born in Chicago May 7, 1867, and was eleven years of age when she came with her parents in 1878 from Wilmette, Illinois, to Western Kansas. Her parents were Louis and Gertrude (Schmitz) Brown, and they found a homestead in section 2 of Logan Township, Edwards County, Kansas, and lived there the rest of their years. Louis Brown was born in Baden, Germany, and came to America when a child with his father, Christ Braun. Louis Brown subsequently changed the spelling of the name to its present form. He served gallantly as a Union soldier with the Seventeenth Wisconsin Infantry and he died in Kansas in June, 1905, at the age of sixty-three. Mrs. Brown resides in Kinsley. Besides Mrs. Wilson the children of the Brown family were: Nicholas M., of Pratt County, Kansas; Annie M., wife of Gus Krueger of Rush County, Kansas; Frank, of Edwards County, Kansas; Joseph, of that county; Louisa, wife of Gideon Enfield, of Rozel, Kansas; Ada, wife of Harry Tuttle, of Pawnee County; and Edward, of Edwards County, Kansas.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have a household of four children, named Frank Louis, Ella A., Roy E. and Ross Mathew. The daughter, Ella, is now a senior in the Rozel High School.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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