Wilson Historical Society

    The Wilson Historical Society and Museum is located on Route 425 at the southern outskirts of the Village of Wilson. Established in 1972, the Society has flourished and the museum expanded through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. The museum building is the former N.Y. Central Depot which was enlarged and renovated in 1912-13. Displays in the Depot include Fire Company memorabilia, photo equipment, medical supplies, radio equipment, business artifacts, books and genealogical files.

    The 1861 Randall Road schoolhouse was moved to the site in 1996. It has since been renovated into a "working schoolhouse", where students may gather with their teachers to experience what it was like to attend an old one-room schoolhouse.

    Other displays include a 1903 N.Y. Central Caboose, the John F. Argue Memorial Building, which houses many antique and classic cars, and the Barnum Building, which features exhibits of Wilson's former Post Office and a country store.

    New to the museum in 2000 is the Rex Tugwell Log Cabin, which was donated to the museum by Floyd "Red" Clark.

    The main fundraiser for the Society is the Memorial Day Fair, which draws thousands annually. The Old Fashioned Fair features demonstrations, chicken barbeque, funnel cakes, antique car show, and a giant flea market with over 350 dealers, along with many other fun things to do for the whole family. Free shuttle bus service, handicapped parking and free admission are all part of the celebration. You can contact Wally Goodman at 716-751-6583 for vendor information.

    Museum visiting hours are 2 - 4 pm the 1st and third Sunday afternoons, excluding the months of November through April. Special arrangements may be made by phoning in off season. For information call: Francis Gallagher 751-9650 or Wanda Burrows, Town Clerk, 751-6704.

Randall Road  Schoolhouse Video

Town of Wilson Historic Markers Tour

Cobblestone Home Tour

Wilson Historical Society Brochure

Wilson Remembers

February 2013 Newsletter

November 2013 Newsletter

The following publications are available from the Wilson Historical Society.  All of these can be shipped.   For membership information please contact Pam Groff at 716-751-6123 or rpgroff@roadrunner.com or e-mail Webmaster Diane Muscoreil at adm@wilsonnewyork.com/ for additional information and postage charges.

Historical Society Photos are here

First Edition WHS Calendar - 2003

$  8.00

Wilson Roads

$  1.25

The Wilson Free Library

$  1.00

The Albright Opera House

$    .75

The Story of Billy Sherman

$  1.00

Tall Tales & Legends

$  2.00

The Valiant Men of Battery M

$  3.00

Postal Service in the Town of Wilson

$    .50

Wilson's Vanishing Heritage

$    .75

The Story of Sunset Island

$  2.00

Recipes from the Wilson Historical Society

$  4.50

Wilson Sketchbook 1 - 1994

$15.00

Wilson Sketchbook 2 - 1998

$15.00

Images of America Wilson

$20.00

 

 

                Greenwood Veterans Memorial List of Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FALSE ALARM, ARRESTS

 HILARITY

AUGUST 28, 1958

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.

Two 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.

Mr. 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!

Later 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. 

The 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!

~ Many 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

In 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.

When 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 activities.

As 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”.

When 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.

 

The Reuben Wilson Home

 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 were taken.

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.

 

  

 

Tuscarora Bay in the 1960’s

 

Many people have asked about the fact that the creek at Roosevelt Beach at one time flowed into Tuscarora Bay.  If you can picture in your mind that in this photo there was several hundred feet of land which has eroded away over some fifty years along this shoreline.  The old maps show that the creek at Roosevelt Beach made a sharp turn to the east and flowed into the west end of Tuscarora bay.  Early photos show that the high bank of land ran along in front of what is today called Tuscarora State Park.  Before the development of Sunset Island a farmer on the west side of what we call Roosevelt Beach today put a gate across this narrow strip on land that separated the lake from where the creek made it’s sharp turn into Tuscarora Bay.  This gate was used to pasture his sheep on this long strip of land, which had high banks and was surrounded by water.  Later as people used this entrance to Sunset Island area they referred to this as the Sheep’s Path.  The building of the piers in the 1950’s helped stop some of the erosion but in the 1970’s  a long breakwall was built between what is called the large and small island to prevent the lake from cutting into Tuscarora Bay.  Currently lake levels have been maintained by the locks at the St. Lawrence Seaway,  so the erosion of the past has not occurred. 

 

      

 
 
 

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