I pulled my copy of the 1910 History of Fayette County from the shelf and paged through it. As usual, I was looking at the pictures, and one of Arthur H. Wilson, looking straight into the cameras lens, made me pause.
He looked like an interesting fellow. And when I turned to the biography section of the book, I found that, yes, indeed, Arthur H. Wilson was a very interesting fellow.
From information in the biography, Arthur was born July 11, 1852, in Cutterville, Wayne County, Ind., where he grew to manhood. He served a four-year apprenticeship in the blacksmith trade. He then spent three years at Newcastle and one at Elwood, and in 1875 located in Vera, Fayette County, Ill.
At the time of his move to Vera, Albert was newly married to his bride, Mary Frances Hamilton, a Loogootee native and daughter of John Gimmerson Hamilton and Nancy Buntin. Their marriage took place in Fayette County on Oct. 15, 1874.
The couple called Vera home for about seven years, and there several children were born, including Gennettie, Jessie May, William W. and Richard. Both Gennettie and William died young, and are buried with their parents in South Hill Cemetery in Vandalia.
Arthur and Mary Frances moved to Vandalia in the mid-1880s, and he practiced the blacksmith trade here for five years before moving his family to St. Louis.
In 1904, on account of Marys poor health, the Wilson family again returned to Fayette County, this time locating in the Lone Grove Township village of Loogootee, where Arthur followed his trade and opened a blacksmith shop.
Arthur was a born mechanic and a natural genius. He was granted several patents on his inventions by the government, and in 1909-1910, when the history book was being put together, had a number under consideration.
According to the editor of the 1910 history book, His wagon brake is particularly good, as are his improvements on wagon tire and bolting machinery. His device for removing nuts and bolts from tires, and replacing them, alone, is enough to bring him into notice, and it is used not only by the United States government, but also by five foreign ones. It promises to revolutionize the setting of tires on all road wagons, carriages and like vehicles.
The editor went on to enthuse over a compressed air stone cutting machine, another of Arthurs inventions, a wonderful improvement over the old methods. He continued, It would be difficult to estimate how far Mr. Wilsons genius will carry him, but it is safe to say that he has not yet finished, and there is still very good work to come from him.
Both Arthur and his wife, Mary Frances, died in New York City he in 1919 and she a year earlier. But Fayette County was always home. Their family lot is found in Block 11 of South Hill Cemetery.