The following is an exert from the family history, specifically from the autobiography of Thomas Elijah Wilson, which is a chronicle of the Griffin Wilson family. A more thorough history will be provided upon completion.
The history of the Griffin Wilson family can best be explained through the autobiography of his youngest son Thomas Elijah Wilson. Sometime around the year 1999 or 2000 an autobiography written be Thomas Elijah Wilson was discovered in the family residence located in Cary Mississippi. A copy of the same in its entirety follows.
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THOMAS ELIJAH WILSON
Rev Griffin Ross Wilson, my father was the son of Thomas B. Wilson and Celia Wilson, both slaves. My father also was born a slave but before he could know the evils of slavery, the emancipation proclamation was issued, formally setting free, all slaves.
He grew into manhood enjoying the sports that were of great interest to those his age. Wrestling was his favorite sport and he was acclaimed a great wrestler in his community. He often told how he won out in many matches and was thrown but once. His brother, William, took pride in matching him with others in bouts. He was low and husky weighing 165 pounds; and measuring about 5 feet five inches in height. He was dark – brown skin.
Most of his early days were spent in and around St. Joseph, LA And Bruinsburg MS. It was perhaps here, that he met my mother, then Nancy Wilkins, and formed companionship with her. They were married in Claiborne County, Mississippi and spent the remaining parts of their lives therein.
After marriage, my mother who was more inclined to a quiet life, persuaded father to become a member of the church; and shortly afterward, he became a minister of the Gospel which calling, he expressed in his life with great interest until his death. He became one of the most successful pastors and church organizers in Claiborne and Jefferson counties. He performed the marriage ceremonies for both of his older children, Katie and Robert, and baptized most of his children. Although he was a minister, he succeeded in purchasing a small tract of land, containing 42 acres, 5 miles southeast of Port Gibson, which served as his homestead in the rearing of most of his children. He saw to it that all of his children obtained an education from the public schools and many continued through high school and college.
Mrs. Nancy Catherine Wilson, my mother, daughter of Elijah Wilkins and Caroline Payne (Wilkins), both slaves, was born in or near Vicksburg, Mississippi. Several years of her early school days were spent in Vicksburg. When she was about 10 or 11 years old, her father was taken to join the Union Army during the Civil War. Unfortunately, he died or was killed in service. Having no one to trace the situation with necessary investigation, her mother died without the benefits from his death. Approximately 55 years later even after my father’s death, my mother produced sufficient evidence to the Federal Government, that she and her sister Louise were the legitimate children of Elijah Wilkins, who died in battle, that they were paid in the year 1919, benefits about $900.00 each, which was die them as a result of their father’s death.
My father and mother are the parents of 12 children; eight of which were boys and four were girls. At this writing, 4 boys and 2 girls still are living. Mother who is above 80 years old is residing in Port Gibson, Mississippi. My father died on April 25, 1918 and was buried on the little farm that he purchased several years before his death.
The original copy of this autobiography was written June 3, 1932 at Port Gibson, Mississippi and more fully assembled at this writing, February 4, 1940 at Cary, Mississippi.
Thomas Elijah Wilson
The writer, Thomas Elijah Wilson was born on October 31, near Port Gibson, Claiborne County, Mississippi. I am the son of Griffin Ross Wilson and Nancy Catherine Wilson. My father was a farmer and a minister.
My education was obtained in the public schools of Claiborne County, Prentiss Institute, and Natchez College. When I was 10 years old I became a member of the St. Paul Baptist Church, Martin Mississippi, my father being a Baptist minister baptized me on the 4th Sunday in July 1908, (the date of the month could not be obtained at the time of this writing).
About the time when I was at the approach of manhood, while I was still in school my father was taken ill, which necessitated my deferring or discontinuing my schooling for some time. It was not until after his death that I re-entered school. Attending summer school at Tuskegee Institute, and Alcorn College, I later obtained the Bachelor of Arts degree at Fisk University, Mississippi. I began studying for the Master’s degree in Education at Fisk University Nashville, Tennessee in the year 1938, (summer term) which course I hope to complete.
On September 7, 1920 I was married to Cassie Elizabeth Collins, daughter of Mr. Alexander Collins and Estella Jackson (Collins), I was then employed as principal of a little school in the community near my wife’s home. Shortly after our marriage, my wife began teaching school as my assistant teacher, and he steadily held this position as my co-worker for 19 years. She has been with me encouraging me as both of us took advantages of higher educational opportunities. Even though we are the parents of six children, three of which are boys and three are girls, both of us have made constant professional improvement.
I was ordained to the Gospel ministry April 19, 1924, but have given most of my time to schoolwork.
I served as principal of the Jones Co. Training School for 3 years. This school was established as a training school during my administration. The site is at Summerland, Mississippi. Leaving there, 15 years have been spent in developing the high school at Cary Mississippi, where I am still working as principal. During the years 1927 and 1928 I was connected to the summer faculty of the state summer school at Lanier High School, Jackson, Mississippi. I was elected….
Editors Note: The page that follewd is missing. Two additional pages were found both of which follos. One was added in 1942 and the second was obviously added mysh later because it refers to events occurring ni 1957 and 1959.
(Addition December 19, 1942)
My mother, Mrs. Nancy Catherine Wilson, died on November 23, 1942 at the home of my sister Sophia in Port Gibson Mississippi, and was buried November 25 at the head of my father’s grave.
I earned the Bachelor of Science degree in education at Alcorn A & M College in 1957. In the same year I was elected pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Cary Mississippi.
In 1959, my wife attended the National Baptist Convention in San Francisco California. We made the flight by Delta Airlines and returned by train.
Other trips of interst were to Ontario Canada in 1956 to Louisville KY. Attending convention in 1957. Occasional trips to Chicago.
Occupation of Relatives
My father – Griff R. Wilson – Minister
R.D. Wilson – Brother – Farmer
William G. Wilson – Teacher and minister
Moses W. Wilson – Teacher and minister
Smith D. Wilson – Teacher and civil service
T.E. Wilson – (myself) see autobiography
My mother Mrs. Nancy Wlison – housewife
Mrs. Sophia M. Teemer – sister – Teacher
Mrs. Annie M. Martin – sister – Teacher
Mrs. Carrie P. Walker – Sister – Once was teacher and housewife; but died in state hospital for the insane in the year 1924
Mrs. Katie Howard – sister - Houswife