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
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 activities.
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.
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.