EBENEZER E. WILSON GRAVESTONE PHOTO
The Star and Kansan, August 31, 1894:
Just before midnight last Tuesday Ebenezer E. Wilson passed away. He had been in poor health for some time, but continued to attend to his duties as postmaster with a slight intermission for a visit to his daughter in St. Louis, until he turned over the office to Mr. Hill, on the first of May. Then he went to Denver, to visit his brother Jerre, and recuperate in the bracing air of the mountains; but instead steadily grew worse, and after his return was confined to his home, while paralysis day by day made slow but incessant advances toward the vital organs. He knew that recovery was impossible, and weakened and almost worn but in the battle of life, he felt as if it was hardly worth while to make the effort to recover. Indeed he asked his brother, after one of his sinking spells in July, whether it was worth while for him to try to get well, and seemed relieved when told that he need not. He simply faded out of life, bearing his sufferings with uncomplaining fortitude and Christian resignation.
As will be seen by the biographical sketch appended, Mr. Wilson has been identified with the history of this city and county from the first, settling here twenty-five years ago in September, being chosen the first mayor of Independence, and having been prominent in the politics and public life of the county ever since. Although opposed to him politically, he having always been an earnest and conscientious advocate of the principles of the Republican party, it gives me pleasure to say that I always found him a courteous and manly opponent. Indeed he was never a bitter partisan, but was always willing to allow others the same freedom of opinion he asked for himself. His nature was genial and kindly, and in the various official positions he held he was always accommodating and pleasant in the discharge of his duties. Methodical and accurate in his mental characteristics, while he was not especially rapid in his work his rugged integrity combined with the other qualities noted, made him almost an ideal official. Everybody was his friend; he never made enemies, and a whole people mourn his untimely death, at an age when it seemed that there ought to be many years of usefulness yet before him.
In his intercourse with those who knew him well, a vein of quiet humor was always cropping out to brighten the passing moments; and this was also apparent in his most ambitious literary production, the “History of Montgomery County,” written for Edward’s Atlas. This work, by one of the principal participants in the scenes described, will always be considered the most authentic and reliable narrative of the pioneer days; and the facts it contains will doubtless be the foundation upon which some ambitious “Historical Society” will build in the future.
The funeral services at the Congregational Church at 10 o’clock yesterday morning were attended by McPherson Post, G. A. R., in a body. The church was crowded, so that not another person could have found a seat. The banks were closed and the district court was adjourned by Judge McCue, as a token of respect to his memory, and to allow those connected with it an opportunity to attend the services. A choir composed of Mrs. A. C. Stich, Mrs. J. E. Pershing, W. E. Ziegler, and A. C. Stich, sang, “Beyond the Smiling and the Weeping,” Rev. G. W. Bean read the 103d Psalm, and Rev. E. Pershing preached the funeral discourse from II Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing.” After the choir had sung “Asleep in Jesus,” the procession formed for the last sad journey out to Mount Hope cemetery, headed by the veterans of the Post and including a very large number of citizens in carriages. The pall bearers were W. T. Yoe, W. Kincaid, J. S. Way, H. W. Conrad, E. T. Mears, and A. C. Stich.
E. E. Wilson was born at Elizabeth Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, Nov. 21st 1838, and would have been fifty-six years old if he had lived two months longer. He enlisted as a soldier April 23d 1861, but on account of a maimed hand caused by falling into the fire when he was a child, was rejected. On Sept. 25th of the same year he was, however, accepted and became a member of Co. C, 2d West Virginia volunteer cavalry. He served through the war, rising from the ranks to the position of Captain, to which he was promoted January 7th 1865, and was mustered out June 30th as captain of the company in which he originally enlisted. It testifies to his modest retiring disposition, that while so many men with no right to the title are daily dubbed “Captain”, I never remember to have heard him addressed by the military title he so well earned. In March 1867 he emigrated from Pennsylvania to Kansas, settling at Fontana in Miami county. He removed from there to Independence in September 1869, when it cost $2.25 a hundred pounds to move his goods across the country by wagon; and put up the first business building in Independence, a rough board structure which cost $500 and could probably be built now for $75. In partnership with F. D. Irwin, who became the first postmaster of the city, he opened this store October 1st. He became president of the town company; but subsequently removed to Elk City where he continued in business for a few months. He returned to this city early in 1870 and was a member of the Board of Trustees who incorporated the town July 23d 1870, and in 1871 became the first mayor of the city. In 1874 he was appointed Deputy County Treasurer, and he continued to perform the duties of that office with universal satisfaction, under both democratic and republican treasurers, for the next eight years. So well were the people pleased with his conduct of the office, that when he himself became a candidate for treasurer in 1881, he was elected by 1,1615 majority, probably the largest ever given for a candidate in this county. He was re-elected in 1883 and served until October 1886. During the next three years he was connected for a short time with the South Kansas Tribune and then took a position in the Commercial Bank, which he held until his appointment as postmaster by President Harrison, an office to which he succeeded on December 1st of that year, holding for five months over his four years’ term, and discharging the difficult and exacting duties of the office to the entire satisfaction of all its patrons.
Mr. Wilson was married February 23d, 1870, to Miss Rebecca Braden, of Washington, Pa., who died on the 21st of April following at Grandview, Ills., here they were on their way to Kansas. He was again married in this city on January 30th, 1872, to Miss Morna Moore, a native of Knox county, Illinois, who died in the spring of 1889, succumbing to la grippe. Six children survive them, the eldest daughter, Zell, being married to Arthur Stewart, and residing in St. Louis. The other five Albert E., Floyd M., Sallie R., Jennie M., and George are all still at home.
Contributed by Mrs. Maryann Johnson a
Civil war researcher and a volunteer in the Kansas Room of the Independence
Public Library, Independence, Kansas