Residents and visitors swarmed through the streets of this
Village Wednesday, termed “Merchant’s Day” by the
Centennial Committee to seek bargains the stores were
offering. The event was called “very successful” by
Chairman Ora Pettit.
incidents failed to mar the Merchant’s Day activity. One
store owner, Gordon McPherson, owner of McPherson’s
Pharmacy, offered a free pint of ice cream to anyone in
his store when the alarm sounded on a clock he had
concealed. In the afternoon the clock rang and Jack
Perry, chairman of the Brothers of the Brush, was in the
store and quickly demanded his ice cream.
McPherson (note the Scottish name!) became suspicious and
discovered another alarm clock in Mr. Perry’s pocket. The
“culprit” and his cronies, Howard Caufield and Lou
Schrader, were quickly ejected, without the ice cream!
in the afternoon, a crown of several hundred watched as
Mayor Robert Horton, Joseph Rice, Norbert Sherrie and
Melvin Schrader were arrested by sheriff’s deputies after
causing a disturbance in the middle of the intersection of
Main and Lake Sts.
men were taken away for corrective measures and the
evidence, cards and chips, was confiscated. Kenneth
Welker, one of the group, escaped and eluded a village
dragnet. Residents later discovered that the mock arrest
had been staged!
thanks to Ella Mae Peters for providing this news clipping
from the Village of Wilson Bi-Centennial in 1958!
BIRTH OF THE UNION FREE SCHOOL
1936 the late G. Herbert Swick gave a speech at the
dedication of the new Wilson High School. His talk
described some little known facts regarding the history of
the schools in Wilson, including the following.
the old Collegiate Institute was started in 1845, it was
decided that circulars would be sent out to advertise the
new school—and they proved very successful. When the
doors opened in the fall of 1846, 339 applicants had
applied for admission. Over 60% of those applicants were
non-residents! Applications came from Mississippi,
Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania,
Michigan and Canada. Moral standards were very high at the
school, and all pupils were required to attend church
every Sunday and to be in their rooms at 7:30 pm except on
Fridays evenings which were reserved for social
other schools were built, attendance dropped off in
Wilson, and by 1869, tuition money was inadequate to
maintain the school and it became necessary to apply to
the State for aid. A proposal was made to unite four
districts to form a Wilson Union Free School, but it met
with great objections—especially from the outlying
districts. In fact, feelings ran so high many people
would not trade with merchants that advocated “such an
asinine project that would allow persons to be taxed to
support a free school”.
it came time to vote, it resulted in a tie, so one
enterprising gentleman, Reuben F. Wilson, asked Elder
Garfield (who loved to talk) to get up and make a speech
in favor of the free school. While Garfield rambled on
and on, Mr. Wilson hitched up his horse and buggy and
raced to the harbor and asked Captain Bunn to get off his
boat and accompany him back to the school. Captain Bunn
voted “yes” and the Wilson Union Free School was born.
One of Niagara County’s oldest landmarks, the Reuben
Wilson home, stands on the north side of Young St. near
Twelve Mile Creek. The principle structure was a log
house started in 1818, and the original logs are still
intact under the clapboards. Additional construction was
completed in 1825 when Luther Wilson and his wife Sara
Stephens moved in with his father.
The old house boasts several first. Foremost is the fact
that it was the first dwelling, other than log cabins,
built within the Village. It was also the site of the
first Post Office when Reuben was appointed Postmaster in
1824. About that same time a store was added and in 1829,
a tavern. Reuben’s last three children were probably born
in the house that was started the same year the Town of
Wilson was set apart from Porter by the act of the State
legislature. Many parties and several weddings were held
there while the Wilson family owned the house, and it was
the center of much of the business and social activity of
early Wilson. Today there is no indication that a
gristmill, sawmill and distillery were once located on
Twelve Mile Creek near the house.
The property was purchased from the Wilson estate by
Benjamin Dearborn, and his daughter and her husband, A. H.
Ackerman, lived there for many years. Mrs. Ackerman
recalled as a child she remembered seeing store shelving
still in place around their front living room. She loved
to tell stories she had learned about the place, and could
point out a spot in the yard where a monument is buried
beneath the sod from which all the first surveys in Wilson
In 1938 it was suggested that a historic marker should be
erected by the house to commemorate the iniative and
industry shown by Wilson’s most prominent pioneers, Reuben
and Luther Wilson. However, it wasn’t until April 1976,
that the Wilson Bicentennial committee elected to place a
marker by the house.