|Birth: ||Aug. 19, 1861|
|Death: ||May 22, 1948|
Local Pioneer Resident Dies
Mrs. Lelia Seton Edmundson, 87, one of Decatur's colorful pioneer citizens, died Saturday afternoopn at 2:26 o'clock at her home on the Wilder Place. She had been in failing health for the past five years.
The body was taken to Brown Funeral chapel on Ferry Street and will remain there until funeral arrangements are complete. Announcement of funeral services will be made Monday, pending the arrival of one surviving step-son, Roland C. Wilder from Ormond, Florida. Te family requests no flowers.
The story of Mrs. Edmundson's life is the story of a great lady of courage and ingenuity, practicality well seasoned with zest for full living.
She was born at Olivesberg, Ohio, on August 19, 1860, the daughter of Rachel Cantwell Seton and William Seton. Upon the death of her father when she was a small child, Mrs. Edmundson, her mother and brother, Roy C. Horton moved to Decatur to make their home with Dr. D.D. Cantwell at the Old Bank Building on lower Bank Street. Dr. Cantwell, at that time, owned much of the property west of Bank Street.
Charles Wilder, a Cincinnati capitalist, came to Decatur and visioned the prospects here for a great city and decided to invest his money in Decatur properties. He bought the now famous Wilder Plantation from Henry W. Rhodes. The plantation, at that time, included 1700 acres of Morgan County land at the mouth of Flint Creek. Miss Lelia Seton and Mr. Wilder were married in St. Paul's Eqiscopal Church which stood at the corner of Bank and LaFayette Streets, now the location of Campbell's store. Mr. Wilder lived only 20 months after their marriage.
In 1912 Mrs. Lelia Seton Wilder was married to the late Colonel W.B. Edmundson. Colonel Edmundson died on June 28, 1938.
Her life was replete with triumph and happiness, struggle and heartache.
In 1943 the handsome plantation home, which had been the scene of many a Southern gathering in which community plans were created, burned, almost a complete loss. The home was built in 1846.
Cotton was King on the Wilder Plantation and Mrs. Edmundson stuck with cotton through lush and famine market. She often said cotton was the only crop that would pay debts. Her love was her land and only when Decatur's future was at stake could she be persuaded to sell even one acre of the plantation.
At the advent of the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 it became necessary for over half of her lands to be taken in the flood control program.
Mrs. Edmundson always believed Decatur was destined to become a great city and she was always willing to make sacrifice of her land, when through such act she could assist in building Decatur. One of these instances came when the Wolverine Tube Division of Calumet and Hecla Consolidated Copper decided on a river site. Negotiations with Mrs. Edmundson were simple because she wanted to see Decatur on the way to the heights she had always believed would some day be established on the South shores of the Tennessee.
She was deeply interested in public affairs. In 1922 she was a candidate for congress, the only public office she ever sought. She was the founder of the League of Women Voters.
There were many instances of her generosity, although cotton, was always king in the world's markets. She gave a large memorial window at St. John's Episcopal Church to the memory of Major Roy C. Horton, her brother, who died October 7, 1916. Inscribed on the window is, "To the glory of God and in memoriam of Roy Cantwell Horton, Major Fourth Alabama Infantry." She was the largest contributor to the fund for completing the front of St. John's Church.
In 1946 Mrs. Edmundson, in a Fourth of July celebration, gave the Old Bank Building to the veterans of all the wars. That building is now the home of Morgan County post of the American Legion, it's value is in the thousands of dollars.
She loved to travel, had made a trip around the world, on another occasion had gone to Alaska, she had widely traveled in the United States. In 1920 when the price of cotton was down to ten cents a pound in this country, Mrs. Edmundson went to Europe, visited Warsaw, sold 400 bales of cotton in Italy at 40 cents per pound.
For the past 40 years or more Mrs. Roy Horton, her sister-in-law has been her constant companion. Mr. and Mrs. Jack R. Smiley have lived on the plantation since 1922, Mr. Smiley being supervisor. Mrs. Smiley was a daughter of Colonel Edmundson.
DECATUR DAILY - May 23, 1948
Wallace Berry Edmundson (1850 - 1938)*
Decatur City Cemetery
Plot: Humes Addition/Section 14-Lot 24
Created by: FHTerry
Record added: Jun 29, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 54283070
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