John Hilen Wilson, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of John Hilen Wilson

JOHN HILEN WILSON. Prominent among the old families of Porter county, Indiana, is the Wilson family. The father, and founder of this family, John D. Wilson, was a splendid type of progressive business man of the past generation. He was one of the leading citizens in the county.

John D. Wilson was born in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, in 1829. His father was William Wilson, and his mother was Rachel (Clark) Wilson. They were both natives of New Jersey and were of German descent. William Wilson was a farmer, and until he died at the age of sixty-three, in 1861, he devoted himself to this occupation. His wife died in 1879, at the age of eighty-three.

John D. Wilson received his education in the common schools of his native state, coming to Indiana as a young man in 1853, and settling in Valparaiso. He was destined to reside here for fifty years. His first work was supervisor of construction work on the Pennsylvania Railroad, principally of the construction of bridges. This occupied him until 1872, when he bought the White planing mill, and engaged with his son, Edmund L., in contracting and building. The White planing mill was the first sash, door and blind factory in the county, and Mr. Wilson and his son became very successful manufacturers of lumber. Among other buildings which they erected, in addition to the many private residences, are the county court house, Memorial Hall, the Presbyterian church, the Fisk building and the county jail.

In his religious affiliations Mr. Wilson was a member of the Presbyterian church. He was a member of the Masonic order and at one time was state lecturer for that order. In 1855 Mr. Wilson was married to Nancy P. Brown, and six children were born of this marriage, as follows: Frank, William, Edmund L., Rachel, Emma and Hilen. Frank and William died in infancy. The death of John D. Wilson occurred in 1895.

Edmund L., the eldest of the Wilson family, was a prominent contractor in Porter county. He was a member of the firm of E. L. Wilson and Brother, and among other important buildings which this firm erected was the Valparaiso Central School. He was also active in politics, being a member of the Republican party. For four years he served the city of Valparaiso as treasurer, and for eight years acted as county clerk. He was a member also of the Masonic order, being a Knight Templar in this fraternity. His wife was Anna Wood, of Deep River, Lake county, Indiana, and they were the parents of three children: Maud, Grace and Wood. Maud died at the age of eighteen. Grace is the wife of William Nuppnau, a grocer of Gary, Indiana. The mother of these children died in 1892, and in 1896 Mr. Wilson married Grace Jones. His death occurred in 1906.

Rachel, the elder daughter of John D. Wilson, married Elliot F. Van Ness in 1879. Her husband is an electrical contractor in Valparaiso, and was in business with his father-in-law under the firm name of Van Ness and Wilson. This firm installed the first electric light plant in the city in 1892. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Van Ness are: Lalia, who died in infancy, Florence and John. Emma Wilson married Charles E. McKeehan, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who is at present trainmaster of the Pennsylvania Railroad. They have three children, Lalia, Mary and Alice. John Hilen Wilson was associated with his father and brother in business. He married Lillian Lewis, and they had one child, Mary Ora, who died in infancy.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 863-864

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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