Biography of John Wilson

JOHN WILSON-The family of Wilson, of Greenfield, is of Scotch Origin, Robert Wilson, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, having been the father of Mr. John Wilson, who is the founder and senior partner of the firm of John Wilson & Company, of Greenfield Robert Wilson was born in Glasgow in 1839, and died in New Cummock, Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1870, in the part of the country that Robert Burns, at the early age of thirty-one years, made famous the world over. He was general manager of the Bank Colliery at New Cummock, was a hard worker and had to apply his managing skill under difficult circumstances, having a hard set of men to deal with. As a boy he grew up in the collieries, was first a foreman and later became general manager, and as such had the management of some five or six large mines. He took a deep interest in all things that would lead to the betterment of conditions for the miners, and was instrumental in furnishing entertainments for their benefit, possessing himself a fine tenor voice and being a musician of note. At these gatherings Burns’ poems were read to the men, and there were other kinds of entertainment for them. He took no interest in politics, and in religion was a member of the established church of Scotland. He was married to Mary Martin McKay, of Glasgow, Scotland, who died in her native place in 1888. The children of the marriage were: i. John Wilson. 2. Sarah, who married James Carson, of Glasgow, Scotland, and with him had four children: James, Mary, William, Robert. 3. David Wilson, deceased. 4. Robert Wilson, deceased. Robert Wilson was a manufacturer of rubber goods and died on ship board on his; way to Australia. After the death of John Wilson’s father, his mother married a second time P. F. Craigie, and with him had children Mary Craigie, James Craigie, William Craigie.

John Wilson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, February 26, 1860, and received his education in the public schools of his native city. At the age of twelve he had completed his school studies and was apprenticed to learn the dry goods business, working for four years in a general store in Glasgow. At the end of that period he went into a department store in Glasgow, which gave him larger opportunities to learn the business. There he remained until 1882, when he accompanied one of his former employers in Glasgow to Liverpool, England, and worked for him in a department store there for two years. Still looking for better and larger opportunities he came to America in 1884, locating in Springfield, Massachusetts, where for eight years he was general superintendent in the dry goods store of Smith & Murray. In 1892 Mr. Wilson went to Thompsonville, Connecticut, and, established there a small general store for himself, remaining there until 1896, when he went to Greenfield, where he opened a small store which by degrees expanded. It has grown to such an extent that to-day, twenty-eight years later, Mr. Wilson is the owner of what is universally acknowledged to be the best department store in Franklin County, and far the best in Western Massachusetts. There is more than twenty-five thousand feet of selling space, and he employs some fifty sales people at all times, and during the holidays nearly double that number. He draws the trade from a wide area, and his, great success being due to superior ability, high intelligence and initiative coupled with ceaseless energy is well deserved and natural. Mr. Wilson is the owner of a farm of some one hundred acres at Greenfield Meadows, and for g number of years specialized in Guernsey stock. He has been a director of the Franklin County National Bank, now the Franklin Trust Company, and was with it during its organization. During the World War he was actively engaged in war work and was chairman of several committees directing the loan drives, and has letters from the Governors of the Federal Reserve Banks, Governor Alfred L. Aiken and Governor Charles A. Morse, in connection with planning the loan drives in 1917 and 1918. Through the instrumentality of Mr. Wilson a good demonstration, given in Greenfield at the proper time resulted in thousands of dollars being raised for the cause of national safety and defense. In politics Mr. Wilson is Republican, and in religion a member of the Second Congregational Church of Greenfield He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, being connected with the Republican Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of Greenfield, and is also a thirty-second degree Mason, both York and Scottish Rites; Melha Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Springfield, Massachusetts, and is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He also belongs to the Republican Town Committee of Greenfield, and to the local Chamber of Commerce, being one of its most active members and founders.

He married, in 1889, Idella May Foth, of Springfield, Massachusetts, a daughter of Albert Foth. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are the parents of one daughter, Alice Brisco Wilson.


Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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