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James Wilson, deceased, was for many years one of the leading farmers and stockmen of Idaho, and during his residence in this state did as much as any other man in the commonwealth in the interests of agriculture and stock raising. He is properly classed among the pioneers of Idaho, for his residence dated from 1864, and from that time until his death he took an active part in the conduct of business interests that resulted to the benefit of the state, as well as to his individual prosperity.
A native of Washington County, Indiana, he was born May 15, 1826, his parents being Jesse and Sarah (McCoy) Wilson. The father was born near Morgantown, Virginia, May 17, 1800, and removed to Washington County, Indiana, during the pioneer period in the history of that state. His death occurred in Grande Ronde valley, Oregon, in the fall of 1863, but his wife, who was likewise a native of the Old Dominion, died in Washington County, Indiana, in 1828. When seven years of age James Wilson removed from his native County to Vigo County, Indiana, where he resided until 1854, when he took up his abode in Wayne County, Iowa, making his home there until the spring of 1862. At that date he crossed the great plains and located in Oregon, whence he came to Idaho in March, 1864, locating in the section that was then in Boise County but is now in Ada County. In 1887 he took up his residence about twelve miles west of Boise city, on the farm where his death occurred March 20, 1899. At the time of his demise he owned in Ada and Elmore counties ten hundred and twenty-six acres of land. He was one of the leading and progressive stockmen of the state, his ventures in that respect, however, being confined almost exclusively to the cattle industry. He introduced into Idaho many thoroughbred shorthorn cattle, thereby greatly improving the grade of cattle raised and thus adding to their value on the market.
Mr. Wilson was married May 2j, 1849, in Indiana, to Miss Nancy Perkins, who was born in Indiana, October 15, 1832, and died in Ada County, Idaho, July 30, 1888. To Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were born six children, namely: Jesse, who was born in Vigo County, Indiana, July 5, 1850; Charlotte, born in the same County, September 19, 1852, and now the wife of D. C. Calhoun; Emily J., born in Wayne County, Iowa, October 7, 1855; Elizabeth M., who was born in Wayne County, Iowa, February 15, 1858, and is now the wife of Phelps Everett; James Lloyd, who was born in Wayne County, Iowa, August 4, 1860, and was drowned in the Boise River, in May, 1865; and William E., who was born in Oregon, December 29, 1862.
In politics James Wilson was for many years a supporter of the principles of the Democracy, but in the latter part of his life he voted for the men who, in his judgment, were the best qualified for the positions to which they aspired, regardless of their political affiliations. As early as 1869 he was made a Mason in Boise Lodge and ever afterward continued a worthy exemplar of the lofty teachings and purpose of that fraternity. His labors in behalf of the farming and stock-raising interests of the state were most effective and beneficial and therefore his death proved a loss to the entire commonwealth. Something of the success which crowned his efforts may be inferred from the fact that when he came to the Boise valley he brought with him only five yoke of cattle and had a cash capital of only two dollars and sixty-five cents, and at the time of his death left an estate valued at more than sixty thousand dollars, which is a very conservative estimate. This he divided by will among his relatives. At all times loyal to truth and right, fair and just in his dealings, and faithful to the duties of friendship and of citizenship, he won and retained the confidence and respect of all with whom he was brought in contact.
Jesse Wilson, the eldest child of James and Nancy (Perkins) Wilson, is a native of Indiana, and is now residing upon the family homestead near Boise. His education was acquired in the early schools of Ada County, and, like his father, he has devoted the greater part of his life to agricultural pursuits and the raising of fine cattle. He is regarded as one of the best authorities on stock in the entire state. He has made a close study of the best methods of raising cattle of the best breeds, and of their qualities and fitness for domestic market purposes, and his opinions carry weight in all agricultural and stock-raising communities. He has never married, but makes his home on the farm which was left him by his father, which comprises one hundred and sixty acres of’ land, and in addition he inherited a valuable tract of one hundred and twenty acres in Kendall County. He has some of this under a very high state of cultivation, and everything about his farm bespeaks the thrifty, enterprising and progressive owner. Socially Mr. Wilson is connected with Boise Lodge, No. 2, F. & A. M., and in politics he is independent.