William L. Wilson, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of William L. Wilson

WILLIAM L. WILSON. The industrial and commercial stability of the city of Valparaiso are admirably fortified in the personnel of its representative business men and the community is signally favored in the character and ability of those who thus stand exponent of the city's leading business enterprises. Numbered among the substantial and prominent citizens of this class is Mr. Wilson, who has been identified with local business activities for nearly two score years and who now controls a large and important enterprise in the handling of lumber, coal and general lines of building material and supplies. The major part of his life has been passed in Porter county, to which the family removed when he was less than one year old, and he has never failed in loyalty to the county and city that have been his home for the period of a generation as commonly estimated. He is one of the progressive business men and influential citizens of Valparaiso and his status in the community is such as to entitle him to special recognition in this history of Porter county. He has so guided and governed his course as to merit and receive the confidence and esteem of his fellow men, and his career has been somewhat eventful as even the brief data here incorporated will indicate.

William L. Wilson was born in La Porte county, Indiana, on the 18th of April, 1847, and is a son of William and Helen (Monell) Wilson, both of whom were born in the state of New York and the latter of whom was but thirty-nine years of age at the time of her death. William Wilson was reared to maturity in his native state and came to Indiana when a young man, in the '30s. He first located in Elkhart county, whence he removed later to La Porte county, and in 1846 he purchased a tract of wild land in Center township, Porter county, at a point about two and one half miles South of Valparaiso. He erected a primitive log house on this property and in 1847 brought his family to the new home, the subject of this review having been an infant but two weeks old at the time. William Wilson continued to devote his attention to the reclamation and cultivation of his farm until 1853, when he was elected treasurer of Porter county and consequently removed to Valparaiso, its judicial center. He was one of the influential and honored citizens of the county and after his retirement from office he engaged in the hardware business in Valparaiso -- a line of enterprise with which he continued to be identified for many years. He continued to reside in Valparaiso until his death, at the patriarchal age of eighty-nine years, and his name well merits perpetuation on the roll of the sterling pioneers of this section of the state. William and Helen (Monell) Wilson became the parents of three sons and three daughters, of whom William L., of this review, is the eldest son and the third in order of birth. Of the other children, two sons and one daughter are now living.

As already stated, William L. Wilson was a child of about two weeks old at the time when the family home was established in the little log house in Center township, this county, and he was about six years of age at the time of the removal to Valparaiso. In the local schools he began his rudimentary education and he was but nine years of age at the time of his mother's death. About one year later he was taken into the home of relatives in Omro, Wisconsin, and there he was reared to the age of sixteen years, in the meanwhile having availed himself of such educational advantages as were there afforded. He then returned to the paternal home in Valparaiso, and in connection with his father's hardware business he learned the trade of tinsmith. At the age of nineteen he indulged his spirit of adventure by making the trip across the plains to Salt Lake City, the journey having been compassed by means of an ox team. He remained in the west two years and then returned to Valparaiso, but in the autumn of 1869, upon the completion of the line of the Union Pacific Railroad to California, he went to that state, where he remained four years and where he found remunerative employment at his trade. In the autumn of 1873 Mr. Wilson came once more to Valparaiso, and here he has maintained his home during the long intervening years, which have been marked by large and worthy achievement on his part, both as a business man and as a loyal and public-spirited citizen. Soon after his return from California he invested his savings most judiciously by purchasing an interest in the hardware business of his father, with whom he continued to be thus associated, under the firm name of William Wilson & Son, until the 1st of January, 1894, when he sold his interest and purchased the lumber business to which he has since given his attention and which represents one of the most substantial and important enterprises of the kind in this section of the state. The well equipped yards and warehouses utilized in the business are located at the corner of Washington and Monroe streets, and all kinds of building material are kept in stock, while the handling of coal is made an important phase of the enterprise.

In politics Mr. Wilson gives his allegiance to the Democratic party and while he has shown no desire for the honors or emoluments of political office he has ever been progressive and liberal in his civic attitude and has not only given staunch support to the cause of his party but has also aided in furthering those measures and enterprises that have tended to conserve the best interests of the community.

On the 11th of November, 1884, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Wilson to Miss Nellie Wallace, daughter of the late William Wallace, who was a representative citizen of New York State, at the time of his death. Mrs. Wilson was born near Newburg, New York, September 25, 1866, and was a child at the time of the family removal to Indiana. She has long been a popular factor in the social activities of Valparaiso and has made the attractive family home a center of gracious hospitality. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have eight children, all of whom were born in Valparaiso, and their names are here entered in respective order of birth: Cora, Myrtle, William, Ralph, Wallace, Earl, Frank and Roger.

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: 620-622

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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