Thomas Jonathan Wilson, the oldest in active pedagogical work of all teachers in San Bernardino County, is a native of Union County, Kentucky, and was born February 7, 1845. At the age of eleven years he moved with his parents to Sedalia, Missouri, in which State he was educated for the purpose of teaching. He taught two years in Texas, and at the instigation of his father, studied medicine, nearly completing the course, and did some practice, sufficient to satisfy himself that the duties of the school-room were more congenial to his taste than dealing out powders and pills. Meeting with an accident in Texas which brought on a hemorrhage of the lungs, he came to California, hoping to benefit his health, and settled in San Bernardino. He began teaching his first school in this State, in September, 1867, and has taught in San Bernardino County every year since. Two of these years, from 1880 to 1882, he was principal of the schools of Colton. He is an ardent lover of his vocation, and enters into the labors of the schoolroom with a spirit and enthusiasm which ensure successful results. He has served six years as a member of the County Board of Education, one year as chairman of the board. He is a zealous advocate and defender of our public school system; and when occasion requires he has eloquently championed the cause of this mighty motor of civilization and progress with both tongue and pen.
Mr. Wilson was appointed chief deputy assessor of San Bernardino County, and has filled that position for ten consecutive years, performing the work of that office during school vacations. His duties involve the active labors of the assessor’s office, including bookkeeping, drafting, etc., in which long experience has made him proficient. For twenty years he has been an occasional contributor to the columns of the current press, and is a racy and entertaining writer. He has also delivered public addresses on numerous occasions; his oratorical efforts are characterized by clearness and directness of thought, and smoothness and terseness of expression which both instruct and entertain his auditors.
He has taken an active interest in fraternal orders, both beneficiary and secret. Was one of the founders of the Central Labor Union of San Bernardino County, June 15, 1887, which now numbers about 1,300 members; was its presiding officer for five terms. He is also a member of the Knights of Labor, and has been statistician of local assembly No. 8,482 for six consecutive years; is now Worthy Fore-man of District No. 140, embracing the counties of Southern California. He is serving his eighth consecutive year as secretary of Phoenix Lodge, No. 178, F. & A. M., and is serving his sixth consecutive year as High Priest of Key-stone Chapter, No. 56, Royal Arch Masons. He served seven consecutive years as recorder of St. Bernard Commandery, No. 23, Knights Templar: is now Generalissimo. He is also serving as Worthy Patron of Silver Wave Chapter, No. 75, Order of the Eastern Star. He was for five consecutive years a member of the committee on by-laws of the Grand Chapter of the State of California: vide the annual reports of that body.
In politics Mr. Wilson is a Democrat, and has taken an active part in local party matters; served two years as secretary and treasurer of the county central committee, and made a number of speeches during the presidential campaign of 1888.
On July 4, 1.871, he married Isabel A., youngest daughter of the late Henry Rabel; six children, four sons and two daughters comprise their family. They reside on their homestead of 480 acre*, twenty-three miles east of the city, at the base of the San Bernardino mountains, 3,500 feet above the sea, where they enjoy the perpetual luxury of mountain air and en-chanting landscape. Among the attractions of this country home are a fine library of standard works, and a collection of choice mineral specimens and sea-shells. A large portion of their place is under cultivation and is devoted chiefly to grain and stock-raising, though Mr. Wilson is turning his attention to the growing of deciduous fruits.