Phillip H. Wilson was born Burke County, NC, 4/16/1814, the son of William and Nancy Haney Wilson. On 5/31/1832 in Burke County, Phillip married Nancy Norman (1817-1880), daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Williams Norman. They were the parents of at least 12 children – 10 sons and 2 daughters. They have been identified as:
- James William “Billy” Wilson (1833-1908) married Margaret “Peggy” Davis.
- William J. Wilson (1835-1930) married Susan McKinney.
- Henry T. Wilson (1839-1905) married Sarah McKinney.
- Elizabeth Wilson (1840-1903) married John C. Sparks.
- Madison D. Wilson (1842-1928) married Isabel “Ibbie” Wilson.
- Sidney S. Wilson (1844-1925) married first Caroline Baucom, second Elizabeth “Betsy” Buchanan, and third Hazy Ledford.
- Phillip “Marion Dull” Wilson (1847-1922) married Martha A. McKinney. This Marion McKinney was referred to as Marion “Dull” McKinney, as his temperament was much milder than that of his nephew, Marion “Sharp” McKinney, the son of Billy and Peggy.
- Milton W. Wilson (1849-1928) married Ellen Pyatt.
- Leonard “Len” Wilson (1852-1933) married Elizabeth “Betsy” McKinney.
- Isaac Newton “Newt” Wilson (1854-1901) married Harriet McKinney.
- Reuben G. Wilson (1857-1919) married Martha Matilda Buchanan.
- Frances E. “Frankie” Wilson (1862-1879) did not marry.
The photograph, according to an 8/7/1947 Tri-County News article by S.T. Henry, was taken in front of the Good Will Library at Wing. Seated (l-r) are Phillip (the father), Wilburn, William, Reuben, and Len. Standing are Milton, Marion, Sidney, Henry, Madison, and Newt. A large copy of this photo in an ornately carved wooden frame, hangs in the office of Mitchell County Historical Society in Bakersville.
The article by S.T. Henry goes on to say that, “All the 10 sons lived their entire lives in Mitchell County. They engaged in farming, livestock raising, carpentry and the mercantile business… Most of these men were over 6 feet tall and of unusual strength. None of the 11 in this picture ever used tobacco in any form, although practically all of this part of the country during the period of their lives chewed and took some snuff.”
Four of these brothers, Henry, Marion Dull, Len, and Newt, married four sisters, the daughters of William B. and Nancy Hoppes McKinney. Susan McKinney, William J. Wilson’s wife, was a cousin. Betsy Buchanan Wilson and Martha Matilda Buchanan Wilson, wives of Sidney and Reuben, were also cousins.
Wilson’s obituary in The Mitchell Mirror, undated but soon after his death on 5/11/1899, reads, “At 7:30 last Thursday night the death reaper caused ‘Uncle Phillip’ Wilson to lay down his mortal life and to put on the robe of immortality. The summons was not unexpected, for this old soldier had been lingering between life and death for several days, and many of his loved ones were gathered around the bedside awaiting the summons to ‘come home’… In religious faith he was a Baptist; in politics a Democrat, and always adhered strongly to his religious and political principles.”
Through the 11 children who survived to marry and have children, Phillip and Nancy had at least 73 grandchildren! Many family members lived in the White Oak community, and Phillip and Nancy, as well as 6 of their children, are buried in the Wilson Memorial Cemetery.
The speculation among local genealogists has been that there were 2 main “sets” of Wilsons who settled in what is now Mitchell County: one originating in Scotland and one coming from Wales. Those in Phillip’s line were Scottish; he claimed, according to descendant Margaret Heinek, that his father came to NC from Virginia. The Wilson family who settled in the Rebels Creek area of Mitchell County, Margaret said, came from Wales to Maryland prior to the Revolutionary War, and then south to North Carolina.
Thanks to Kenneth Ellis for providing information for this feature.