WILSON, EDWIN AUGUSTUS. - Some men are gifted beyond their fellow, possessing not only keen business sense, but also talent in other directions, which enables them to produce something that will life after them. Edwin Augustus Wilson, a real estate dealer residing at No. 520 South Second Street, Springfield, Ill., is an author of no mean ability and one of the leading citizens of the Capital City. He was born at New Windsor, Carroll County, Md., June 16, 1840, a son of George Washington and Sidney Ann (Stier) Wilson. The father was born September 24, 1814, on Queen Anne County, Md., a son of Sweatman Wilson, born March 12, 1784, in the same county. Mrs. Wilson was born in 1820, in New Market, Md. Mr. Stier was a lineal descendant of Rudolph Stier, the great Bible commentator. This name is also associated with the Calverts of Maryland, immediate descendants of Lord Baltimore. The home of the Calverts was at Riverside, seven miles from the capitol at Washington City, and was purchased by henry J. Stier, of Antwerp, a lineal descendant of Rubens, the artist, and presented to his daughter, who was about to marry George Calvert. In the grave yard at Riverside an old tombstone bears the inscription: "Here lies the body of Rosalie Eugenia Calvert, wife of George Calvert, and daughter of Henry J. Stier, of Antwerp, who died March 31, 1831, aged forty-three years." The father of Mr. Wilson of this record was a shoe manufacturer.
The education of Edwin A. Wilson was secured in the public schools of New Windsor, New Market, Mount Hope in Frederick and Carroll counties, Md., Baltimore County and the city of Baltimore. When only sixteen years old he taught in an academy, being assistant to the Principal, and took an examination at Westminster, the county seat of Carroll County, when about that age. He also taught in the public school at Union Bridge, Md. He left New Windsor when four years old, and lived with his grandparents at New Market, Md. Losing his father at the age of eight years, he went to Hookstown in 1848, and in 1849 went to live with an aunt in Baltimore, who was very dear to him. He went with her to New Market, Md., in 1851 or 1852. In the latter year he went on a farm in the "Linganore Hills," of Maryland, where he learned lessons of thrifty economy which have never been forgotten. Between 1855 and 1856 he was in Union Bridge, and in 1859 or 1860 returned to Baltimore. In 1856 he read "The Conflict of Ages," "Plutarch's Lives," "Rollins Ancient History," and similar works, which did much to form his character. He feels that his education was gained more from his books and association than from the limited opportunities afforded him to attend school.
Mr. Wilson was in Baltimore during the riot of April 19, 1861. He was a stanch Union man, wearing the flag under the lapel of his coat. When Gen. Butler came to Fort McHenry and threatened to turn the guns on Baltimore, he gladly brought out the sign of his patriotism. Mr. Wilson's recollections of those stirring days when the nation was in danger are so interesting that it is regretted any of them are omitted from this biography, but space forbids their being given in full. He had unusual opportunities, going to Washington on May 1, 1861, and remaining there until the close of the war, during which time he was manager of a large military and trunk establishment, and in 1863 joined the United States Sanitary Commission. He attended President Lincoln's first reception at the White House and saw Gen. Scott there. He frequently met the President and was witness to some of the homely incidents in that great man's life that so endeared him to the nation. He was in the trenches at Washington for four days, having volunteered for the emergency when it was thought the capital was in danger, and did efficient work as a clerk in the Sanitary Commission. On January 19, 1866, while still in the service of the Sanitary Commission, he visited Springfield, to secure data from the office of Adj. Gen. Haynie, but not getting it at that time, visited other capitals, returning to Springfield in May and being successful. So pleased was he with that city that he decided to make it his home, and has lived there for over forty-five years.
On July 13, 1864, Mr. Wilson was married in Washington, to Cynthie Corwin Hannon, named after Tom Corwin, of Ohio, born November 5, 1843, in Charles County, Md., daughter of Henry M. and Julia (Longden) Hannon, an Englishman, resided in Alexandria, Va., and fought under Gen. Washington. His son, John Longden, grandfather of Mrs. Wilson, was also in the Revolutionary War. Edgar Snowden, first cousin of Julia Longdon, lived in Alexandria, Va., where he edited and published the leading paper. Alexander Robey Shepherd, Governor of the District of Columbia during President Grant's administration, was a cousin of Mrs. Wilson. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are: Julian St. John, Harry Smith, Percy Edwin, Arthur Morehouse, Paul Morton, George Stanley, Winnifred, Ruth, Grace Hannon and Gladys Dulaney.
Something of a Bible student, mr. Wilson has thought carefully on some of the subjects which engross those who have investigated religious matters, and has been a writer on these themes. He is the author of some dogmatic booklets. Believing in verbal Plenary inspiration, he is a pessimist as to the world's condition. He believes in the absolute inerrancy of the Sacred Scriptures, in the Divinity of Christ, and in the personality of the Holy Ghost. He does not believe that the attitude of science, which is altogether of man, adds to or detracts from the truths of the bible, which are of God. He believes in the premillenial, hence the imminent coming of Christ. Not consenting to the introduction fo the sociological with what is called religion, in efforts to sway communities, for he believes that God deals with units, he is very conservative. He was reared a Methodist, but united with the Fourth Presbyterian Church in over thirty years. In 1908 he united with the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, in May, 1866. In 1870 he united with the Third Presbyterian Church, and was an Elder in it for over thirty years. In 1909 he united with the Second Presbyterian Church. He was Superintendent of the Third Presbyterian Church Sunday School for many years, has been President of the State Y.M.C.A. and of the local Association of Springfield, and an officer in the State organization of Sunday Schools.
A very strong Union man during the war, Mr. Wilson changed his political views after the attempt to impeach President Johnson, and became a Democrat, but for the past quarter of a century has been an independent, voting for the man he conscientiously believes best fitted for the office. During 1861 he joined Federal Lodge No. 1, A.F. & A.M., and Beacon Lodge No. 15, of Odd Fellows, both of Washington. He has also belonged to many religious organizations and has lent his influence to promote the majority of the movements put on foot in Springfield during his residence there, that he thought would elevate society or advance the interests of the people. Exceedingly conscientious and honorable in his dealings, he is a man who ever carries his principles into everyday field. His record for honesty of dealing and straightforwardness of purpose is such that his word is taken without further proof of the truth of his statement. Founded on so sure a foundation, his material success has been steady, and is certainly well merited.