Thomas Wilson, The Man Who Loved Nellie

Thomas  C. Wilson, sometimes T.C. Wilson, was the man who loved Nellie Sheridan enough to wait fifteen years before marrying her so that she could keep her position as postmistress.  Although clearly deeply in love, the couple didn’t always share the same points of view, religion,  or culture, but theirs was truly a relationship based on mutual admiration and respect.

Thomas was the grandson of  Judge James W. Wilson (1781-1852) and  Martha Ann Ashby(1786-1880).  It was his grandfather, James, who had come to Perry County and settled in Clayton Twp., Perry County, Ohio.  Graham’s 1883 History of Perry and Fairfield County stated the following information on  Thomas’s grandmother,  Martha Wilson:

Martha Wilson, wife of Judge James Wilson, one of the earliest settlers, was born in Alleghany county, Maryland, Feb. 1786, and died March, 1880, in the ninety-fifth year of her age, and was the last of the pioneer women in Clayton township to pass from time to eternity. She came to the neighborhood where she lived and died, in 1811, when neighbors were few and far between. Bears, wolves and panthers, were frequently seen. Once, during the war of 1812, when her husband was absent at Zanesville, there was an alarm that the Indians were coming across the country and murdering the white people. Many families loaded up and fled. Mrs.Wilson having no way to go and take her three children, converted her cabin into a fortress and prepared for battle. She barricaded the door with timbers, prepared her gun and ammunition, and with the great dog at her side, stood with gun in hand all through the night and until dawn of day ; but no Indians came. On another occasion when her husband was away from home, the wolves attacked her only sheep, before she had put it in the pen for the night. She heard her faithful dog fighting and striving to drive the wolves away ; but they were ravenous and would not be driven off by the dog. Mrs. Wilson lighted a torch, rushed out, frightened away the wolves, and rescued the sheep. The savage animals remained so near that she could distinctly hear their teeth gnash and grind together as they thus gave vent to their unavailing rage. For many years previous to her death she had been blind, but she was cheerful, resigned and happy. Most of the time during her later years, she fancied and believed that she was living with her husband and children who had long been dead. Again she would recognize and converse intelligently with her living sons and daughters at her bedside. Mrs. Wilson was a religious woman ; she united with the Methodist Episcopal church in 1809, at her old home in the State of Maryland. The Methodists held camp meeting for a number of years in a grove upon her husband's farm, and a church (Wesley Chapel) was subsequently erected near the old camp ground.

His great-grandfather, and namesake, was Thomas Wilson II, who had fought in the American Revolution. Thomas was enlisted with the  4th Company, Frederick Detachment, 4th Battalion,Maryland Troops, 5/2/1782, under Capt. George Richard Byrd. He is interned at Wilson Cemetery at Altamont, Maryland.

The Wilson genealogy includes this letter  and following information composed by James Wilson to Thomas Wilson II:

In the year 1811, James and Martha moved to Clayton Township, Perry County, OH. and purchased a farm now known as "Wesley Chapel", which is still in posession of their descendants (1931)
James Wilson, son of Thomas II, was born March 6, 1781. He married Martha Ashby and migrated at an early date to Washington Court House,Ohio.
The following letter was written by him in Ohio and sent to hisparents by his double brother-in-law, Capt. Jesse Ashby, who was returning East from service during the war of 1812;
 Aprile the 25 A. D. 1813
 Dear father and mother, brothers and sisters. Opportunity offers once more of writing to you which I gladly imbrace. My dear friend I can inform you that we are all in reasonable helth thanks be to the hand thatgave it hoping that you all enjoy the same blessing I have nothing strange to inform you of your friend in this cuntary are all reasonablewell we have had a hard winter but a good spring. I must give you account of my work. I have built a barn 22 feet by fifty-four I have sewed 1 bushed and a peck of flax seed it is up very nice and some oats sowed by small grain looks well I have been clearing six acres of ground that I expect to plant in corn. My friends I want to hear from you write to me the first opportunity this is the second letter and received no answer we wish to be remembered to all inquiring friends I have left my fathers house and friends and come to a strange land but theLord has blest me with kind friends and neighbors but I am bound by the titles of nature to have a peticular regard for you my friends My dear friends I am still striving to serve in weak way and manner My dear friends remember me when it is well with thee my friend I must bid you a long far well and so remains your affectionate son and daughter James Wilson and Martha
 (Folded and addressed on back:)
 To Mr. Thomas Wilson
 Green Glades

Like Nellie, Thomas also would have also known the stories of his brave ancestor.  It is without a doubt that the two would have shared a common interest in perpetuating  such  rich and meaningful history.

Thomas Charles Wilson, son of James Riley Wilson  and Jane S. Johnson Wilson, was born 24 Nov. 1862 in Perry County, Ohio.  He was one of eight children born to the couple.  His siblings were as follows:  James William Wilson, born December 18, 1859; died November 11, 1930.Mary Aurilla Wilson, born September 12, 1843; died March 27, 1885, Harriet E. Wilson, born October 19, 1845; died August 24, 1854, Edith Jane Wilson, born April 20, 1848,  Sarah Katherine Wilson, born January 20, 1851; died July 06, 1926, Aaron Johnson Wilson, born July 23, 1854, Martha Rachel Wilson, born March 22, 1857; died October 31, 1931, and James William Wilson, born December 18, 1859; died November 11, 1930.


James Wilson’s usual form of work was that of a farmer.  He had a large farm in Clayton, Twp., Perry County, Ohio.  In order to provide a bit of historic insight as to what the Wilson nineteenth century farm was like, please note the following information.  In 1880, James Wilson’s farm included six milk cows, seven “other” cows (possibly oxen), five calves born on the property, fifty hens, eighty-one sheep, and twelve swine.  His farm produced eighteen acres of Indian corn, four acres of oats, fifteen acres of wheat, an acre of potatoes, and 3 acres of apples.  In the year previous, he had produced seventy pounds of honey and three hundred pounds of butter.


Clayton Twp. 1875 Perry County Atlas Click to enlarge

After the death of his father, James, T.C. resided in Somerset with his sister, Edith, who never married, and his aging mother, who had returned from residing in Iowa circa 1910.  Per the 1910 census, his mother was 88 years old and his sister was 61.  The Wilsons employed a servant girl by the name of Mary Souslin, who also lived in with them.  She was 31 years old.  Thomas was a merchant in a business called Johnson and Wilson.  It specialized in clothing.

Thomas Wilson died on his wedding night in 1913.  Nellie purchased a burial plot in the Somerset Methodist Cemetery for him.   His mother outlived him by four years and died in 1917.

Thomas Wilson death certificate


8 thoughts on “Thomas Wilson, The Man Who Loved Nellie

      1. Oh my… I was following pops old family Bible and realized TC Wilson is a cousin… There were 2 Wilsons who came to Clayton twsp early on. Judge James m Ashby and Thomas m Jane King sister of Thomas King. These 2 Wilsons were 1st cousins… Thank you so much for this. S Wilson


  1. Thank you….. what a story…. I realized while reading, it was my Wilson cousin line…Judge James Wilson m Ashby was first cousin to my Thomas m Jane KING.
    Very early pioneers of Clayton Twsp….
    Thanks again for putting flesh on the otherwise dry bones of history…..


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