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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin
(1925)

Chapter XXII: biographical,   pp. 247-958


Page 835

HISTORY OF DUNN COUNTY
Wilson, with whom he came to Iowa, in 1836, and to Menomonie, in 1846. Two
years later he joined the government survey crew, and with the official surveyors
traveled over the vast pine regions in the development of which he was later to
have so important a part. In 1854 he was admittea as a member of Knapp-Stout &
Co., and in the fall of 1858, immediately after his marriage he went to Read's
Landing, in iMinnesota, to look after the company interests there. Under the firm
name of T. B. Wilson & Co., he had charge of the company holdings at Read's
Landing and supervised the rafting operations from that point to Dubuque Iowa.
For nearly two decades he was a dominant factor in the life of the busy little village
on Lake Pepin. He ably supervised the interests of his company, he maintained a
hospitable home, he served as postmaster and in other official capacities, was super-
intendent of the Union Sunday school, and was especially active in young people's
work. He was a close friend of Bishop Henry B. Whipple, missionary to the
Indians, whom he said was the bravest man he ever knew, and the Bishop often
visited the cheery home and was much interested in the merry group of growing
Wilson children. In 1874 Mr. Wilson came back to Menomonie to assist his father
and in 1878 became secretary of the newly incorporated Knapp, Stout & Co.
Company, which office he held continuously until his death, and being in active
charge of the operations at Menomonie, and traveling through the territory which
embraced the vast holdings of the company and its associated organizations. He
had inherited many of the admirable qualities of his father and mother, and was an
important factor in the growth of the county and company. Unassuming and
retiring, he was a keen business man, a good citizen and companion and an ideal
family man. His benefactions were many, but much of his charity and generosity
was anonymous, as he especially disliked ostentation and display. He died March
26, 1898, his death being almost coincident with the diminution of the lumbering
operations in which he had so important a share. Thomas Blair Wilson was
married on Oct. 12, 1858, at Jersey Shore, Penn., to Julia Frances Epley, daughter
of Peter and Amelia Epley. She was born at Pine Creek, Lycoming County, Penn.,
on March 8, 1836, and died in Menomonie, on Nov. 20, 1911. The children of
Thomas Blair and Julia Frances (Epley) Wilson are: Peter Epley Wilson, born
Aug 1, 1859, who died Dec. 29, 1913; James Fountain Wilson, born June 20, 1863:
Thomas Blair Wilson, Jr., born Sept. 30, 1865; Paul Carleton Wilson, born Feb. 16,
1869; Thaddeus Wilson, born Feb. 18, 1872, who died in March, 1874; and Philip
Aitkin Wilson, born Nov. 15, 1874.
John Holly Knapp, son of Gen. John H. Knapp, was born at Elmira, N. Y.,
March 29, 1825. His father was a man of remarkable energy, tact and business
ability-one of the pioneers of internal improvements in New York. He was one
of the original projectors of the Chemung canal and secured the charter for, and was
one of the constructors and proprietors of the Blossburgh and Corning railroad,
one of the first successful railway enterprises in this country. Financial embarass-
ment of and disaster to some of his business associates, involved him in serious
financial reverses in 1834, and in 1835 he gathered up the remnant of what had been
a large fortune, and started for the far west. He crossed the Iississippi River at a
point where now stands the city of Fort 'Madison, Iowa, and settled at that place
on what was known then as the" Black Hawk purchase"-then a part of Michigan
territory. It was there amid the western wilds that the childhood and youth of
ir. Knapp was spent, attending school and assisting his father in his business.
When 20 years old he went east and entered a collegiate institute at New Haven,
Connecticut, where he remained during one school year. With the exception of a
subsequent course at a business college, this ended his school days, yet in a true
sense he was a thorough scholar and a man of varied and high culture. The
scenes and vicissitudes incident to a pioneer's life in a new country, were well-fitted
to develop and bring out those qualities of mind and heart that contributed so
largely toward making him what he was as a friend, citizen and a christian gentle-
man. Fond of nature, a lover of the romantic and beautiful-the undulating
billowy expanse of the western prairies, and the majestic sweep of the "Father of
Waters" were to him a perpetual inspiration and objects of thought. He, in early
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