Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901

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James A. Wilson

JAMES A. WILSON, foreman of the machine shops of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company, was born in Scotland, at Bathgate, Linlithgowshire, just 15 miles from the city of Edinburgh, in 1860. He is a son of James and Margaret (Andrews) Wilson, both of whom were natives of Scotland.

James Wilson was born in Scotland, in 1825, and was a millwright by occupation. He came to the United States, in 1862, with his wife and child. Two days before landing at Montreal, Canada, he had the misfortune to lose his wife. After reaching his destination, he entered the employ of the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company, during which time his son was left with his brother-in-law, John Andrews, in Indiana. Our subject remained with him six months, and then went to live with an uncle, Robert L. Wilson, at Piasa, Illinois. Robert L. Wilson sold out shortly after this, and went to Kansas to live, locating in Greenwich, Sedgwick county. James A. Wilson then took charge of his son.

The subject of this, sketch received his schooling in Illinois, and in St. Louis, Missouri, where his father moved after leaving the employ of the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company. During his vacation in 1870, he entered the machine shops of that company, and later in the year went to Glasgow, Scotland, with his father. There Mr. Wilson at once entered the marine department of Randolph & Elden, ship builders, and served as an apprentice, for eight months. He then worked, for six months, at Dubb's Locomotive Works, and later, for the Newton Steel Company, Limited, of Glasgow, Scotland. He remained there until he became of age, and in October, 1881, again came to America, and landed at New York. He visited with a friend in New York for three weeks, and then went to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where he engaged as a machinist in the Westinghouse High Speed Engine shops, where he remained for six months. Mr. Wilson then went to Chicago, where he was engaged with the Frazer & Chalmers Machine Company, where he remained about one year. He worked for the Preston Iron Works, of Marinette, Wisconsin, for six months, after which he returned to Chicago, where he was employed by the J. J. Clawson Printing Machine Company. After his marriage, in 1884, he started a steam and gas fitting shop, and was building up a splendid trade, when, in 1886, he decided to go to Washington. He did not carry out this resolve, however, but located in Parsons, Labette county, Kansas, July 7, 1886. He entered the employ of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company, as a machinist. His fine abilities were soon recognized, and in 1888 he was made foreman of the shops,the position he now holds. He has had some valuable experience, and is considered a very fine machinist. The shops, in which he is employed, give work to 65 men in the machinery department and are the main machine shops of the system.

Mr. Wilson was united in marriage with Lillie McDown, in September, 1889. She is a daughter of William McDown, who was all early settler of Labette county. She was raised near Matthewson. Mr. Wilson and his wife have four children, namely: Beatrice; James William; Josephine Helen; and Ralph Andrew. Mr. Wilson is a Democrat in politics, and served as councilman of the Fourth Ward during 1898 and 1899. Fraternally, he is a member of the K. 0. T. M. and M. W. of A.; he was formerly a member of the Knights of Pythias. Mrs. Wilson is a member of the Royal Neighbors. Mr. Wilson was raised a Presbyterian. His wife is a member of the Methodist church. They are well known in Parsons, where they have a host of friends.