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James Alexander Wilson
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Birth: Oct. 23, 1844
Richland County
Ohio, USA
Death: Oct. 3, 1927
Crow Wing County
Minnesota, USA

                    School Matters.

      At the school meeting which was on Monday night, Prof. J. A. Wilson of Lexington, Ohio, was elected to the principalship of the Brainerd high schools. Mr. Wilson is very highly recommended as an educator, and is an old acquaintance of A. W. Frater, and parties who are in a position to know, say that the school board are very fortunate in securing his services. The other new teachers engaged are Miss Lizzie Hawley, daughter of Rev. Dr. Hawley, of this city, and Miss Dobner of Lake City, and Miss Loraine Yonker, of Corry, Penn.--The teachers retained, are Miss Louise Smith, Miss Minnie Merritt, Miss Inez Pember and Miss Jennie Partridge.—School will begin September 1st. (Brainerd Dispatch, 17 July 1884, p. 3, c. 3)

      Prof. Wilson, of Lexington, Ohio, who has been engaged as principal of the city schools arrived to-day. (Brainerd Dispatch, 22 August 1884, p. 3, c. 3)

      “On the last day of January, 1885, the teachers and pupils of the Sixth Street School formed in procession headed by the city band and school board, marched over with band playing and flags flying, and took possession of the new high school building just completed. Principal J. A. Wilson...and others made speeches. That day was an epoch in the progress of education in Brainerd. Everybody was proud of the fine new building. It was the most complete and finest furnished school building in Northern Minnesota.” (J. A. Wilson) (Brainerd’s Half Century, Ingolf Dillan, General Printing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 1923, p. 31)

                  The School Matter.

      At the adjourned meeting of the board of education held last night the matter of hiring a principal was the only important business attended to, and as far as accomplishing any results the meeting did not do much. The members who are opposed to the retention of Prof. Wilson another year in his present position are John Willis, A. Mahlum, N. W. Wheatley and F. W. Mallott, and their objections are based upon what they claim is incompetence, “red tape,” too much discipline, etc. These objections were plainly stated to the board by these different members, Mr. Wilson being present. He explained matter at considerable length but it seems without any visible effect; a number of petitions signed by about one hundred patrons of the schools in favor of retaining Mr. Wilson were read, after which a motion was made to reject his application, four voting in favor of and four against the motion and it was declared lost, and there the matter stands.
      It is truly to be regretted that such a state of affairs exist. A talk with Mr. Lagerquist this morning reveals the fact that four of the best teachers in the school with whom he has talked are willing to come before the board and testify to Mr. Wilson’s fitness and capability, and they are teachers of long experience. A large majority of the patrons of the schools are entirely satisfied with the progress their children are making and desire to see the gentleman remain. What the outcome will be is uncertain as the other four members, Mr. Hartley, Mr. Lagerquist, Mr. Keough and Mr. Cullen, are as fully determined that the present principal shall remain. (Brainerd Dispatch, 10 June 1887, p. 4, c. 6)

      A pleasant surprise party called on Prof. Wilson at his residence last Saturday evening. The occasion was to show the gentleman that a good majority of the people of the city appreciated the services he had rendered in bringing the schools to their present high standing. During the evening Mrs. Wilson was presented with a gold watch, Justice Smith doing the honors. (Brainerd Dispatch, 22 July 1887, p. 4, c. 5)

             Prof. Wilson is Retained.

      The board of education met in regular session on Monday evening, the hiring of a principal being the most important business transacted. W. W. Hartley, who has been a staunch advocate and admirer of Prof. Wilson, moved that he be elected to the position, which was seconded by P. M. Lagerquist. This again opened a discussion on the merits of different applicants, but it was plain to be seen that unless Mr. Wilson was elected the school would go a begging for a principal, for the present at least. A vote was taken which resulted in six votes for and two against, John Willis and N. W. Wheatley voting in the negative, although they stated that their attitude in the matter would in no way interfere with their endeavors to assist the professor in making the school a success, but they could not conscientiously vote for his retention. The outcome of the dead-lock is to be commended, and that Prof. Wilson will satisfy the patrons of the school is beyond doubt. (Brainerd Dispatch, 12 August 1887, p. 4, c. 5)

               JAMES A. WILSON, 83,

              School Superintendent
                        Was Known
                Throughout City and
                      Entire County

             Born in Richland County,
                         Ohio; Was
              Personal Friend of Late
                   President Harding

      James A. Wilson, aged 83 years, personal friend of the late President Harding, a Civil war veteran, known throughout Brainerd and Crow Wing county as the congenial professor, passed away at 7:15 o’clock this morning at the St. Joseph’s hospital. Knowing that his end was near Mr. Wilson was taken to the hospital from his residence at 512 North 4th street Saturday afternoon.
      The passing of Superintendent Wilson is mourned by his numerous friends. His life is filled with memorable deeds, he fairly radiated happiness and good cheer and was a particular friend to the children. He attended most of the basketball games at the Brainerd high school last winter and was one of the most ardent supporters of the local team in their quest for basketball honors at Aitkin last season. He was a great scholar, a man to man and it is with honor that the Brainerd Daily Dispatch can call him one of their closest friends and loyal supporters.
      This paper on October 20, 1926 filed away the obituary of Mr. Wilson as he wrote it for publication at the time of his death. It typified his desire for exactness and to have all things completed at the time of his death.
      “Notes on life of J. A. Wilson,” as written by Mr. Wilson follow:
      James A. Wilson was born October 23, 1844, in Richland county Ohio. His parents of mixed Irish, Scotch and Dutch ancestry, came from eastern Pennsylvania to the heavy hard wood forest country of Ohio in 1829.
      To remove the huge walnut, oak, maple, beech, chestnut and hickory trees was a herculean task, but it was accomplished and a home was made where eight children were born, fed, clothed and schooled. James A., the seventh, with the rest of the children got a schooling of six months each year. The Civil war coming on, his education was halted for the time as he enlisted in May 1862, at the age of 17 1/2 years and served in the campaigns of that year in east Tennessee and southwest Virginia, and then in the campaigns around Richmond and Petersburg in eastern Virginia. He was discharged in October 1864.
      During this service, he received the big wages of thirteen dollars a month in greenbacks, then worth about sixty cents on the dollar. After spending his money he went to work for the C. C. & I. Ry. at Galion, Ohio. Not liking that work he went to work in a brick yard. On learning that trade he quit it and entered the Lexington Seminary to prepare to enter college. Three years later he entered Ohio Central college, graduating from that institution in 1876 with the degree of B. S., or Bachelor of Science.
      President Harding and Judge A. W. Frater of Seattle were also graduates of Central college.
      After graduation he entered educational work, holding the Chair of Science in the college from which he had graduated.
      The college work not being sufficiently remunerative he turned to public school fields, serving as principal in Lexington and Shiloh and as superintendent of the city schools of Lorain, Ohio.
      Mr. Wilson, with his family, came to Brainerd in 1884, he having been elected superintendent of Brainerd schools. He held this position for six years. In 1890 he was elected County Superintendent of Schools and remained in that work for twenty years.
      July 16, 1876, he was married to Anna Thompson of Butler, Ohio. Miss Thompson was a graduate of the Savannah, Ohio academy.
      To them were born three sons and two daughters, one boy dying in 1885.
      There are now living: Mrs. Belle Hense, Port Angeles, Wash, H. J. Wilson, St. Paul, Dean Wilson, San Francisco, Julia McMahon, Siren, Wis.
      Mr. Wilson has made Brainerd his home since 1884.
      He was a member of the First Congregational church of Aurora lodge of Masons and Pap Thomas Post, G. A. R. (Brainerd Dispatch, 07 October 1927, p. 2, c. 7) [Obituary courtesy of Brian Marsh, CWCHS]

Family links: 
  Anna Thompson Wilson (1852 - 1923)
  Anna Belle Wilson Hense (1878 - 1954)*
  Charlie Jason Wilson (1880 - 1885)*
  Harry James Wilson (1882 - 1947)*
  Mary Julia Wilson McMahon (1895 - 1970)*
*Calculated relationship
Evergreen Cemetery
Crow Wing County
Minnesota, USA
Created by: Jim Lee
Record added: Jan 25, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 64661558
James Alexander Wilson
Added by: A. Nelson
James Alexander Wilson
Added by: John Van Essen
James Alexander Wilson
Added by: John Van Essen
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Civil War Veteran, 86th Ohio Infantry, Company C
- A. Nelson
 Added: Sep. 30, 2014

 Added: Sep. 27, 2014

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