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Matthew & Elizabeth Wilson, Sr. – Garfield Cemetery, Pawnee, Kansas


Not all of our early pioneers came from Germany. The Wilson Family came to America from Scotland in 1862.


Matthew Wilson, Sr. was born in Martisntown, Antrim County, Ireland in 1828. His parents were originally from Scotland but had fled to Ireland to escape the Scottish Revolution (two wars from 1296-1357). As a young man, he returned to Scotland and married Elizabeth Moore. She was also born in Scotland in 1831. Her early life parallels that of Matthew’s life.


The two were married in Scotland on November 3, 1849. A twelve-year-old son accompanied them to America in 1862. They spent a short time in New Jersey before settling on a farm in Illinois. The family’s arrival in Keysville Twp., Pawnee County occurred in 1881. Matthew and Elizabeth’s obituaries say that 11 children were born, but only five remained at their deaths.

Matthew’s oldest sons, William and Matthew, Jr. were older and married at the time of their arrival in 1881. They believed Edwards County would offer better opportunities for them. Together, all three men were prosperous farmers and ranchers.


The families’ first home consisted of two rooms. In addition to other household items, Matthew brought four horses, ten cows, and some implements from Illinois. The first two years they had no crop. To provide for the family, the sons found jobs wherever they could. The first wheat crop was harvested in year three. Those first 10 cows gave the family meat and a start on a herd of White Face Herefords. As their fortunes rose, Matthew began to buy land for his cattle. When he was finished, he owned seven quarter sections. Along the way, that two-room house grew to nine rooms.


In the spring of 1905, a new Methodist Episcopal chapel was erected on his property and named Wilson in his honor. The first funerals were for Matthew, Sr. who died January 6, 1905. Elizabeth passed three years later on January 6th. They are both buried at Garfield Cemetery along with many of their descendants.


Note: The third name on the headstone is for Matthew and Elizabeth’s son, Johnie. He was born in Illinois and died at the age of 20.


Note: Some of the information was taken from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka 1919 – pgs. 2448-2449.

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