Matilda Glinz <I>Rausch</I> Wilson

Matilda Glinz Rausch Wilson

Birth
Walkerton, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada
Death
19 Sep 1967 (aged 83)
Brussels, Arrondissement Brussel-Hoofdstad, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Burial
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA GPS-Latitude: 42.4427592, Longitude: -83.1279471
Plot
Wilson Mausoleum, next to the Dodge Mausoleum.
Memorial ID
View Source
Socialite and Philanthropist. Oakland University benefactor Matilda Dodge Wilson was born Matilda Rausch on October 19, 1883, in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada, to German immigrant saloon keepers George and Margaret Rausch. In 1902, Matilda Graduated from Gorsline Business College and went to work as a secretary for Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company in Hamtramck, Michigan where she met her first husband automotive pioneer John Dodge. On December 10, 1907, Matilda married John Dodge and a year later, they purchased a 320-acre farm named Meadowbrook near Rochester, Michigan. This was the first of nine farms that eventually made up the Meadowbrook acreage and the family often went on weekend retreats to Meadow Brook Farms. Matilda and John had three children: Frances (b. 1914), Daniel (b. 1917) and Anna Margaret (b. 1919). On January 14, 1920, John Dodge died of influenza in New York, New York, while attending an auto show with his younger brother Horace. At this time, Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company was standing at second place in American automotive sales. In December the same year, his brother Horace died of cirrhosis of the liver at his winter home in Palm Beach, Florida. Close friends of the brothers say Horace died out of grief at the loss of his older brother, with whom he was very close with. Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company fell into the hands of the brothers' widows, who promoted long-time employee Frederick Haynes to the company presidency. Matilda was now left with three young children of her own, as well as three from Dodge's first marriage. She was also one of the wealthiest women in America.

Sadly in 1924, her youngest daughter Anna Margaret died from complications following the measles. One year later, the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company was sold by Matilda and her sister-in-law Anna Thomson Dodge to the investment banking firm Dillon, Read & Company for $146,000,000, which at the time was the largest cash sale of an American company. The same year in 1925, Matilda married her second husband, lumber broker Alfred Gaston Wilson. Soon after, Matilda and Alfred moved into a farmhouse on the Meadowbrook property where they lived during the construction of their new home Meadowbrook Hall. Once there, Matilda, with energy and attention to detail, supervised the construction of a Tudor revival style mansion as well as the construction of new farm buildings. Before his death, John Dodge was in the process of constructing a $9,000,000 house that measured more than 80,000 square feet in Grosse Pointe, Michigan which included a man-made peninsula on Lake St. Clair to accommodate his brother's yachts on visits. His home would have been the largest in that area and $4,000,000 had already been spent on construction by the time John died. The home was said to be the most expensive in the world at that time. Matilda, after disputes with her stepchildren over John's estate and being snubbed by Grosse Pointe society, abandoned Johns dream and from 1926-1929 ended up constructing the $4,000,000 Meadowbrook Hall. Many of the interior pieces such as the wood paneling, windows and plasterwork inside Meadow Brook Hall were orignally designed and cutom made for John's mansion in Grosse Pointe which was located in an area known as Harbor Hill.

In 1929, less than a month after the stock market crash, Matilda and Alfred held a housewarming party at their new home and In 1930, Matilda and Alfred adopted two children: Richard, at 18 months, and Barbara, at three months. In 1931, Matilda became chairman of the board at Fidelity Bank & Trust Co, and Time magazine named her the "most prominent woman in U-S. banking." During the same year, she was elected to the State Board of Agriculture, the governing board of Michigan State University. She served as an M-S-U trustee from 1931 to 1937, and was named trustee emeritus in 1960. Sadly tragedy struck again. On August 15, 1938, her 21 year old son, Daniel, died while on his honeymoon due to the result of an explosive going off in his hand to which he thought was a candlestick. Matilda eventually settled with Daniel's widow Annie Laurine “MacDonald” Van Etten in the amount of $1,250,000. In the 1980's the John F. Dodge trust was broken up and dispersed among his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and Annie sought more money but lost her case. In 1940, Matilda was appointed the first woman lieutenant governor of Michigan by Governor Luren Dickinson. Also by this time, John Dodge's home in Grosse Pointe, standing vacant for 20 years with a tax bill of more than $7000.00 a year was sold to a developer, demolished and the land was subdivided to construct smaller stately homes. In 1953, the Wilson's constructed a smaller home on the farm designed to serve as a retirement home and guest house. At 11,400 square feet the new home was known as "Sunset Terrace" and the Wilson's lived there until Alfred's death in 1962. During this time, Meadowbrook Hall was used for events and still maintained to the highest standards. In 1955, Matilda received an honorary doctor of law degree from Michigan State University and two years later in 1957, Matilda and Alfred donated their 1500 acre estate, its buildings and a $2,000,000 endowment, to Michigan State University to found a branch of the university in Oakland County. At this time, she also received the Distinguished Service Cross from the Salvation Army. The new M-S-U branch eventually became the independent institution, Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. On April 6, 1962, her second husband Alfred Wilson passed away from a heart attack in Scottsdale, Arizona. The twice-widowed dowager moved back into Meadowbrook Hall in 1963 and would live alone there until her death of a massive heart attack on September 19, 1967 at the age of 83 in Brussels, Belgium, where she had gone to tour horse breeding farms, searching for new blood for her line of Belgian draft horses. Meadowbrook Hall is now the fourth largest historic house museum in America at 88,000 square feet (110 rooms). Matilda's contribution to the public saved Meadowbrook Hall from the wrecking ball and the Matilda R. Wilson Fund (the result of John Dodge's fortune)awards grants yearly towards charitable causes. John Dodge frequently played golf on his private golf course on Meadow Brook's grounds and for nearly 30 years, the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance car show has been held on the grounds of Meadowbrook Hall. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the world. In the 1930s, Matilda and Alfred Wilson constructed a pink granite art deco style mausoleum with a pink marble interior. It is located next to the Dodge mausoleum where her first husband was laid to rest in 1920. Special thanks to [email protected] for the photo touch-ups.

Sources: Meadow Brook Hall archives, meadowbrookhall.org, "The Dodges the Auto Family fortune and Misfortune" by Jean Pitrone and Joan Potter Elwart (1981) "Dodge Dynasty; The car and the family that rocked Detroit" by Caroline Latham & David Agresta (1989).
Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan and Michigan State University. See the Meadow Brook Hall Facebook page for additional unpublished images.
Socialite and Philanthropist. Oakland University benefactor Matilda Dodge Wilson was born Matilda Rausch on October 19, 1883, in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada, to German immigrant saloon keepers George and Margaret Rausch. In 1902, Matilda Graduated from Gorsline Business College and went to work as a secretary for Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company in Hamtramck, Michigan where she met her first husband automotive pioneer John Dodge. On December 10, 1907, Matilda married John Dodge and a year later, they purchased a 320-acre farm named Meadowbrook near Rochester, Michigan. This was the first of nine farms that eventually made up the Meadowbrook acreage and the family often went on weekend retreats to Meadow Brook Farms. Matilda and John had three children: Frances (b. 1914), Daniel (b. 1917) and Anna Margaret (b. 1919). On January 14, 1920, John Dodge died of influenza in New York, New York, while attending an auto show with his younger brother Horace. At this time, Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company was standing at second place in American automotive sales. In December the same year, his brother Horace died of cirrhosis of the liver at his winter home in Palm Beach, Florida. Close friends of the brothers say Horace died out of grief at the loss of his older brother, with whom he was very close with. Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company fell into the hands of the brothers' widows, who promoted long-time employee Frederick Haynes to the company presidency. Matilda was now left with three young children of her own, as well as three from Dodge's first marriage. She was also one of the wealthiest women in America.

Sadly in 1924, her youngest daughter Anna Margaret died from complications following the measles. One year later, the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company was sold by Matilda and her sister-in-law Anna Thomson Dodge to the investment banking firm Dillon, Read & Company for $146,000,000, which at the time was the largest cash sale of an American company. The same year in 1925, Matilda married her second husband, lumber broker Alfred Gaston Wilson. Soon after, Matilda and Alfred moved into a farmhouse on the Meadowbrook property where they lived during the construction of their new home Meadowbrook Hall. Once there, Matilda, with energy and attention to detail, supervised the construction of a Tudor revival style mansion as well as the construction of new farm buildings. Before his death, John Dodge was in the process of constructing a $9,000,000 house that measured more than 80,000 square feet in Grosse Pointe, Michigan which included a man-made peninsula on Lake St. Clair to accommodate his brother's yachts on visits. His home would have been the largest in that area and $4,000,000 had already been spent on construction by the time John died. The home was said to be the most expensive in the world at that time. Matilda, after disputes with her stepchildren over John's estate and being snubbed by Grosse Pointe society, abandoned Johns dream and from 1926-1929 ended up constructing the $4,000,000 Meadowbrook Hall. Many of the interior pieces such as the wood paneling, windows and plasterwork inside Meadow Brook Hall were orignally designed and cutom made for John's mansion in Grosse Pointe which was located in an area known as Harbor Hill.

In 1929, less than a month after the stock market crash, Matilda and Alfred held a housewarming party at their new home and In 1930, Matilda and Alfred adopted two children: Richard, at 18 months, and Barbara, at three months. In 1931, Matilda became chairman of the board at Fidelity Bank & Trust Co, and Time magazine named her the "most prominent woman in U-S. banking." During the same year, she was elected to the State Board of Agriculture, the governing board of Michigan State University. She served as an M-S-U trustee from 1931 to 1937, and was named trustee emeritus in 1960. Sadly tragedy struck again. On August 15, 1938, her 21 year old son, Daniel, died while on his honeymoon due to the result of an explosive going off in his hand to which he thought was a candlestick. Matilda eventually settled with Daniel's widow Annie Laurine “MacDonald” Van Etten in the amount of $1,250,000. In the 1980's the John F. Dodge trust was broken up and dispersed among his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and Annie sought more money but lost her case. In 1940, Matilda was appointed the first woman lieutenant governor of Michigan by Governor Luren Dickinson. Also by this time, John Dodge's home in Grosse Pointe, standing vacant for 20 years with a tax bill of more than $7000.00 a year was sold to a developer, demolished and the land was subdivided to construct smaller stately homes. In 1953, the Wilson's constructed a smaller home on the farm designed to serve as a retirement home and guest house. At 11,400 square feet the new home was known as "Sunset Terrace" and the Wilson's lived there until Alfred's death in 1962. During this time, Meadowbrook Hall was used for events and still maintained to the highest standards. In 1955, Matilda received an honorary doctor of law degree from Michigan State University and two years later in 1957, Matilda and Alfred donated their 1500 acre estate, its buildings and a $2,000,000 endowment, to Michigan State University to found a branch of the university in Oakland County. At this time, she also received the Distinguished Service Cross from the Salvation Army. The new M-S-U branch eventually became the independent institution, Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. On April 6, 1962, her second husband Alfred Wilson passed away from a heart attack in Scottsdale, Arizona. The twice-widowed dowager moved back into Meadowbrook Hall in 1963 and would live alone there until her death of a massive heart attack on September 19, 1967 at the age of 83 in Brussels, Belgium, where she had gone to tour horse breeding farms, searching for new blood for her line of Belgian draft horses. Meadowbrook Hall is now the fourth largest historic house museum in America at 88,000 square feet (110 rooms). Matilda's contribution to the public saved Meadowbrook Hall from the wrecking ball and the Matilda R. Wilson Fund (the result of John Dodge's fortune)awards grants yearly towards charitable causes. John Dodge frequently played golf on his private golf course on Meadow Brook's grounds and for nearly 30 years, the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance car show has been held on the grounds of Meadowbrook Hall. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the world. In the 1930s, Matilda and Alfred Wilson constructed a pink granite art deco style mausoleum with a pink marble interior. It is located next to the Dodge mausoleum where her first husband was laid to rest in 1920. Special thanks to [email protected] for the photo touch-ups.

Sources: Meadow Brook Hall archives, meadowbrookhall.org, "The Dodges the Auto Family fortune and Misfortune" by Jean Pitrone and Joan Potter Elwart (1981) "Dodge Dynasty; The car and the family that rocked Detroit" by Caroline Latham & David Agresta (1989).
Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan and Michigan State University. See the Meadow Brook Hall Facebook page for additional unpublished images.


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