Biography of James Wilson
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JAMES WILSON – Representing one of the extensive woolen manufactories in the United States is James Wilson, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. As president of this organization which today is doing business under the title of James & E. H. Wilson, Inc., he is handling large responsibilities.
The location of this factory is on the Housatonic River below Pontoosuc Lake, and in the early settlement of the town this same site was occupied by an iron forge. In 1856 this property was purchased by the Taconic Manufacturing Company, who built a mill and began the manufacture of union cassimeres. This business continued until 1873, when operations suspended and the factory remained idle for a number of years or until 1880. At this time it was leased and operated by James Wilson, of Pittsfield, and Michael Glennon, of Dalton, who began the manufacture of union cassimeres, employing in their plant at that time about one hundred and twenty-five hands. Mr. Glennon later retired from the firm and his successor was Arthur Horton, who was admitted to the firm in 1886, the firm name then becoming Wilson & Horton. This partnership continued until 1900, when Mr. Wilson bought out the interest of Mr. Horton, and the firm continued its operations until 1917 under the title of James & E. H. Wilson. In this year Mr. Charles H. Wilson was admitted to partnership, and in 1922 the concern was incorporated under the name of James & E. H. Wilson, Inc., James Wilson becoming president, Edward H. Wilson, vice-president, and Charles H. Wilson, treasurer (see biographies of Charles H. and Edward H. Wilson). The output of this factory is woolen and woolen-and-worsted cloth, the annual production being approximately 1,000,000 yards. During the World War this concern was one of the many called upon to serve, and from October, 1914. to December, 1915, it turned out about 125,000 military blankets and 750,000 yards of uniform cloth for some of the European armies. In the year 1904 the factory was greatly enlarged by an additional building, and also by its purchase of the property known as the Bel Air Mills, a short distance south of the original mills. These are now operated as an auxiliary to the main mill.
James Wilson is a native of Pittsfield, having been born in that city September 23, 1848. He is the son of Solomon and Mary Elizabeth (Dunham) Wilson, also residents of Pittsfield, and the father also interested in the woolen industry, being associated with L. Pomeroys’ Sons, woolen manufacturers of Pittsfield.
Mr. Wilson received his education in the public schools of Pittsfield, then began his career as a business man. In 1865 he was an employee of the Western Massachusetts Fire Insurance Company, of Pittsfield, but in 1866, upon suspension of operations, he went with the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company, of Springfield. In 1867 he formed a partnership with Jarvis N. Dunham, of Pittsfield. who was previously the secretary of the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and together they worked as agents for the above company and others. They ware successful in their undertaking and continued in this business until 1879, when the opportunity presented itself for Mr. Wilson to engage in the woolen industry. Mr. Wilson is a man always alert and wide awake and this looked to him a real opportunity which it has proved to be. In 1880 he made the change, entering a partnership with Michael Glennon, and leasing the property formerly known as the Taconic Mills. His business has changed partnerships as has been previously related, but he has continued to “carry on,” until today (1925) he is at the head of a very large organization.
Having been born and reared in Pittsfield, Mr. Wilson has many friends in this section of the country and he is an influential and public-spirited citizen. He is a director of the Pittsfield National Bank, and of the Berkshire Mutual Fire Insurance Company. A Republican in his political views, he has held the office of town clerk of Pittsfield, and was at one time offered the nomination for mayor of the city of Pittsfield, by both the Republican and Democratic parties. His club membership includes the Park and Country Clubs of Pittsfield, and his church membership is with the First Congregational Church.
James Wilson was married, in Pittsfield, June 7, 1871, to Harriet Denning Strong, daughter of Rev. Edward and Margaret Scott (Sherman) Strong, and to this marriage have been born three children: Edward S., born June 9, 1872; Charles H., born October 15, 1877, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere; and Henry Norman, born May 3, 1886, died September 25, 1886.