Who are our Wilson Ancestors?

by Glenn N. Holliman

"The more I know of my maternal ancestors, the more I realize they moved the frontier forward before the American Revolutionary War.  They fought the Native Americans, the French, Tories, the British twice and then in the Civil War, their neighbors.  They were one feisty bunch! - GNH

Below the writer in Boone, 
North Carolina on the beautiful campus of Appalachia State University
Five years ago, I began writing this blog on my maternal ancestors.  My mother, Geraldine Stansbery Holliman Feick, died this past July 12, 2015. Before she slipped into dementia, she and I, along with my two sisters and a nephew were able to make a trip to Damascus, Virginia, Bristol, Tennessee and Sutherland, North Carolina to visit ancestral sites.  Later my son and grand daughter made the trip to Sutherland.
As a child, my mother had told me of her grandmother, Frances Wilson Osborne, walking behind her father in his Ashe County, NC corn field during the Civil War.  It was a chilling tale of a young 13 year old girl, born 1851, who witnessed her father, Isaac Wilson (1822-1864) shot in the back from ambush by neighboring Union sympathizing bushwhackers.

Decades later, I found the story on the Internet and in the book Neighbor to Neighbor, largely written by Frankie's brother, The Rev. William Albert Wilson (1861-1950).  About Uncle Will and Great Grandmother Frankie, I have written many times in this space, and I hope to do so more in the future.

But for now, I wanted to share more information on our Wilson line.  July 1, 2010 on this blog site, I wrote what I knew at the time of Isaac Wilson and his lineage; that is to say very little about his own grandfather and line before the middle 1700s.   (One can go to the Blog Archive, bottom left column, to retrieve the 2010 article.)

Several years ago, I did visit the Appalachian State University archives to research the Wilson line.  Here are my findings, basically 'raw data', inconclusive but intriguing.  Perhaps this will encourage someone reading these words to dig deeper and help connect the dots.

First a snip-it from Ancestry.com on my Wilson very great grandparents.  Isaac's father, Hiram, appears in Neighbor to Neighbor, a grandparent to my great grandmother, Frankie, who greatly assisted his daughter-in-law Caroline Greer Wilson, when her husband was murdered.

According to my great grandmother's notes, Hiram's father was John Wilson (1749-1812) and his father was Charles Wilson (1733-1781) who died of wounds after the Battle of Guildford Courthouse.  The dates of  Charles and John's births are a bit suspicious but could be accurate.

But what do we know of their lives?  The data below might help.

In the ASU Center for Appalachian Studies is a volume, the Marriages of Rowan County, NC, 1753-1868, compiled by Brent H. Holcomb, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1981. I found: 

 -P. 144, John Wilson, bondsman for Frost, John and Rebecca Boon 23 Aug 1793.
- P. 271, John Wilson, bondsman for Mealy, John and Mary Linn, 20 March 1797.
- P. 341 John Wilson, bondsman for Roark, William and Margret Rose, 25 Nov 1768.

Hmmm...if this our John Wilson who witnessed these marriages?  Notice the marriage of Rebecca Boon; perhaps a first cousin?  There is much more on John Wilson.

Next I looked into the multi-volume Journal of the Rowan County Genealogical Society,  1989.

Vol. 3
- P. 61, Marriage deed between John Wilson and Sarah Boone April 1782. Same page Benjn Wilson m. to Margret Bowman on 12/30/1788.  This John and Sarah would be Isaac Wilson grandparents, or my generation's fourth great grandparents.  

- P. 97, Alexander Wilson m. Jean Brandon on 2/11/1778. James Wilson m. Hannah Bryant on 9/1/1783. Was James Wilson a brother of John Wilson?  Notice the Bryant connection.  Daniel Boone, this writer's sixth great uncle, married Rebecca Bryan.

- P. 112 one Elizabeth Wilson, b 1754 and d 1825 was second wife of Wm. Frost, who bore him 14 children.

- P. 133, James Wilson m. Jean Caldwell on 5/6/1788.  Is this the widower of Hannah Bryant above?

Vol. 4 

- P. 107, Elizabeth Wilson m. David Enochs 1/29/1794.  Oh me, is this the same Elizabeth as above or a different Wilson?

- P. 113 John Wilson and Sarah Smith witnessed a Jacob Wiseman deed. Notice in the snip-it above the close relationship between Wilson and Smith families.

Vol. 5

- P.  85 Katherine Wilson m. Joseph Hall,8/7/1788  and Elizabeth Wilson m. Wm. Hall 1/7/1783.

- P. 111, Elizabeth Wilson m. Joseph Holman 4/12/1768.  Yet more Elizabeth Wilson marriages.

- P. 113 Samuel Wilson m. Margaret Jack on 4/6/1768.

- P. 119, one Capt. Wilson listed on 1778 list in Second Creek area.  This may very well have been Charles Wilson, John's father, and my 5th great grandfather.

Vol. 6

- P. 19, John Wilson m Marey Kimsey on 2/24/1769.

Below the lovely campus high in the western North Carolina highlands, a college serving the community and nation.

Now with these nuggets of information, and so many overlapping Wilsons, let us step back a generation.  In The Rowan Story by James S. Brawley, 1953, Salisbury, NC, Rowan Printing Co., we find on page 357 a listing of a Charles Wilson as a taxable in Rowan County in 1759.  Salisbury was county seat.  Catawa Indians lived in and around Rowan.  Cherokees lived more to the west.

I propose this is the father of John Wilson and grandfather of Hiram.

On page 18 is another ancestor.  Squire Boone in 1754 appointed one of the commissioners.  Indians wars in 1760s reduced the taxables.  Squire is my generation's 7th great grandfather.

Below the library and Appalachian archives at ASU in Boone, North Carolina, 3,300 feet above sea level with cold winters and moderate summers.

So let us take a look at the Rowan County, NC Tax Lists 1757-1800 by Jo White Linn, 1995.

- P. 35, 1759, Charles Wilson listed as one taxable.

- P. 53, 1761 tax list has Charles Wilson.

- P. 76, 1768 tax list – 2 taxables for Charles Wilson.

- P. 120, Charles Wilson and John Wilson listed in 1772 Rowan Co. tax list as well as James Wilson and son and two Negroes – 4 taxables. 

- P. 211, 1783 Charles Wilson has 200 acres, valued at 75 pds.  Uh oh... Hmmm…this can’t be Charles Wilson who died at Guildford Ct. House in 1780!  Is this a son, another Charles Wilson, a brother of John, my generation's 4th great grandfather.

On my to-do list is to return some day to this fabulous archive filled with information on my frontier ancestors.  My thesis is Charles Wilson migrated, probably from Pennsylvania, possibly a neighbor of the Boones and Wilcoxsons, who like thousands were migrating south by the 1750s, moving to cheaper and abundant land in North Carolina.  The Shenadoah Trail, now I-81 was a busy road, but not much more than a wagon path in the middle 1700s.  

I hope the above helps other researchers, and encourage all to share information and theories with us.   

All are invited to join in building a family tree at Wilson-Greer-Osborne-Forrester-Donnelly and Associated Families of Western NC at Ancestry.com.  Just write to glennhistory@gmail.com for an invitation.  Saving our family history one ancestor at a time.  Thanks!


The Cousin with the Hat, the Chicken and the Exhausted Wife!

by Glenn N. Holliman

After the publication of the last blog on the Wilson and Osborne Cemeteries in Ashe County, North Carolina, I received a photograph from distant cousin Gary Paisley. He kindly granted permission to reproduce pictures and relay some information on a grandson of Isaac and Caroline Greer Wilson.  Below is Charles Smith Wilson wearing a bowler hat and feeding a chicken perhaps in Grayson County, Virginia.  Why is he sitting in a chicken yard in his Sunday best?!

From Gary Paisley

"In case you don't already have it, I am forwarding a photo of Charles Smith Wilson (1884-1923), who was, I believe, the nephew of Frankie Wilson (this writer's great grandmother).  His mother was Martha Evaline Wilson (who is buried at Pine Branch, 1857-1904)).   

Below, Andrew Johnson and Martha Eva Wilson Forrester (Courtesy of Shirley Sorrell and Clington Getzinger)

I think his father was Richard Franklin Osborne (he was).  Martha later married Andy Forrester.  

Charles Smith Wilson taught school at Pine Branch, then married Ruth Lee Paisley (later in life she called herself Louise rather than Lee, 1896-1981), and they later moved to Washington.  I think he died in Waitsburg, WA in 1923, but I am pretty sure there are living descendants."

Gary sent along his amazing photograph of Ruth (Louise) Lee Paisley Wilson.  Taken during a not inexpensive trip to a photographer's studio, this woman is posing in an exhausted position, and her stare shouts that she does not care what the camera is catching.  Any clues to the reasons for Ruth's depression?

"Someone from out in Washington sent the picture of Charles to me several years ago.  They were wanting information on Ruth Lee Paisley's ancestry - her parents. 

Walter Edward and Martha Ida Porter Paisley were part of the same diaspora to Waitsburg, Washington.  She was a grand daughter of James Monroe Paisley who owned a department store in Troutdale, Virginia during the boom years.  Ruth Lee married twice more after Charlie Wilson died.  So I am not even sure the folks who contacted me were descended from Charlie.

Below, Gary Paisley

Ruth Lee would have been my 3rd cousin, once removed.  I collect info on all the Paisleys of the Upper NRV (New River Valley) and their relations.  I believe the Charles Wilson photo was taken near Pine Branch, just north of Fox in Grayson County, Virginia.  

The land around Waitsburg does not look like the picture - more of a grassland climate with few trees.  The photo could possibly be taken at the old Lee Fielding Hash place.  you probably know he married Charlie Wilson's sister, Lelia Bina Wilson (1878-1935).  Lee F. Hash's sister, Alice married Noah Anderson, and Noah's sister, Celie married James Monroe Paisley which is how they were all connected.  

Charlie and Ruth Lee moved to Waitsburg about 1915.  Their eldest, Charles, Jr., was born near Fox in 1914 while the other 3 children, Robert Earl, Wade Carver, and Virginia Martha (who died as an infant) were born in Washington.  All three sons are now deceased but at least 2 of them had children."

All are invited to join in building a family tree at Wilson-Greer-Osborne-Forrester-Donnelly and Associated Families of Western NC at Ancestry.com.  Just write to glennhistory@gmail.com for an invitation.  Saving our family history one ancestor at a time.  Thanks!


Research from the Center for Appalachian Studies

by Glenn N. Holliman

Notes from a Crowded Computer....

While on a recent cruise, I spent time in my cabin cleaning out computer files and rearranging my very confused notes.  Several years ago, I spent an afternoon in the Center for Appalachian Studies at the State University in Boone, North Carolina, and took numerous notes from just a few of the many volumes on local and family histories.  Here are a few items I saved.

One volume in which I explored was Ashe County, N.C. Cemetery Records by Russell Hamilton, published 1999.  This is only a partial list of my Wilson and Osborne ancestors buried in two Ashe County grave yards.

 Above, my son, Christopher S. Holliman takes a picture of my grand daughter, Camille Elizabeth Holliman, standing by the grave of her 4th great grandmother, Caroline Greer Wilson (1828-1911).  This photograph was taken in summer 2013 at the Wilson Cemetery on Oscar Wilson Road in Sutherland, North Carolina.  One generation hands down to the next the stories of family.
When I was a boy in the 1950s, I remember on a thundery day in East Tennessee my mother, the late Geraldine Stansbery Holliman Feick, telling me of her grandmother, Frances (Frankie) Wilson Osborne who was terribly afraid of thunder storms and used to hide under her bed.  Right, Frankie in old age at her home in Bristol, Tennessee, 1930s.

Mother also told me of the bushwhacking of her great grandfather, Isaac who was Frankie's father.  Frankie was with him when he was shot in June 1864 during the Civil War while hoeing corn.  Decades later the memoirs of The Rev. William A. Wilson, Frankie's brother, told of the event in detail.  These writings have now been published in the work, Neighbor to Neighbor by Appalachian State University's Center for Appalachian Studies.

Below is a partial list of those in Wilson Cemetery.  Many reading this posting have been to this cemetery where my generation's great, great grandparents, Isaac and Caroline Greer Wilson, are resting. Birth and death dates are given.  Perhaps this list will help some who are filling in Ancestry.com profiles.  If you see any errors, please let me know.

1.Nancy Emeline Wilson, 25 Feb 1850 – 4 Dec 1919
2. Caroline Greer Wilson, 10 Dec 1828 - 8 Sep 1911, w of Isaac Wilson
3. L. Boyd Wilson, 8 Dec 1885 - 24 Dec 1885, s/John W & Rebecca Wilson
4. Isaac Wilson, 16 Dec 1822 – 17 June 1864, CSA NC Co. E, 37th Reg.
5. Mary McClellan Wilson, 10 Mar 1868 – 14 May 1949, w. of W.A. Wilson, Sr.
6. Oscar Thomas Wilson, 24 Feb. 1889 – 29 Aug 1985, s/Robert B. and Sarah Wilson
7. Rebecca Wilson, 21 Sep 1862 – 19 Aug 1954, wife of John Wilson, D/Jacob & Eliza Wilson
8. Robert Boyd Wilson, 4 Jan 1860 – 17 Feb 1949, s/Isaac and Caroline Greer
9. Robert McClellan Wilson, 23 Dec 1897 – 17 Sep 1904, S/Wm. A and Mary McClellan
10. Sarah Ellen Wilson, 6 Mar 1866 – 1 Mar 1952, W/Robert B.; D/Jacob and Eliza Wilson
11. William Albert Sr.,  20 Dec 1861 – 18 Feb 1951, S/Isaac and Caroline Greer Wilson
12. William Albert, Jr., 17 Aug 1894 – 19 Nov 1983, S/W.A. Wilson, Sr. and Mary McClellan Wilson

Right is a view of Wilson Cove, the large farm that Isaac and Caroline Greer Wilson acquired after their marriage in 1849, and which was divided among their children after his death.  Today, there are numerous owners of plots in the cove, not related to each other.  The elevation of the farm is at 3,200 feet.  The Wilson Cemetery is out of the picture at the upper left.

Another cemetery Mr. Hamilton studied is the Osborne Cemetery in Ashe County not too far from the Wilson Cemetery.  Here another pair of my great, great grandparents George Washington and Mary Baldwin Osborne, are buried.

This cemetery is located at Map Coordinates C07; on the south side of NC-88, o.55 mile north of West Peak Road, SR-1119, across the New River on a hill 4000’ from the road, chain link fence, 60’ by 75’. It has 22 graves at this North Fork Township location and was in good condition in the 1990s.

1.      George Washington Osborne, Sr. 28 Apr 1803 – 18 Apr 1882, S/Jonathan Osborne and Agnes Wells
2.     Mary Baldwin, 11 Feb 1803 – 21 Jan 1895, W/George W. Osborne, Sr.
3.     Clem W. Osborne, 26 Feb. 1835 – 23 Jan 1902, S/Geo. W. and Mary Baldwin.
4.     Effie A. Lewis, 1873 – 1954, W/Walter R. Osborne.
5.     Esther S. Osborne, 16 Aug 1910 – 14 Aug 1985, D/Walt R. Osborne & Effie Lewis.
6.     Ruby Hill Osborne, 28 Oct – 13 May 1935, D/Walt R. and Effie Lewis Osborne

All are invited to join in building a family tree at Wilson-Greer-Osborne-Forrester-Donnelly and Associated Families of Western NC at Ancestry.com.  Just write to glennhistory@gmail.com for an invitation.  Saving our family history one ancestor at a time.  Thanks!