The Farm Chronicles: First Son

The heritage of the Wilson farm goes back to the early 1800s. My grandfather, when he was in his 90s, told me the story of the 100-year anniversary of the farm back in, well, he couldn’t remember exactly, 1917 or 1918. Of course, my Dad was born in 1917 and Grandpa thought the anniversary was before that. So, I’m not really sure. But I know that my Dad was born in the neighbor’s house two farms down. It’s likely that most every one of my grandfathers in the Wilson line were either born at a neighbor’s house or at the Wilson farm house since it was homesteaded. I also know from the historical records that the Wilson clan were active citizens in the early beginnings of Northeastern Ohio settlement.

According to Portage County Historical Society records, Paris township was organized in the fall of 1820, and at the first election on the 10th of November held in the schoolhouse erected a year earlier, Justus Wilson was elected trustee; Austin Wilson a fence viewer, and Luther Wilson a constable. There were 25 voters. At this meeting, the township was renamed Paris from its previous name of Storrsborough. A fence viewer was a person who administers fence laws by inspecting new fences and settles disputes arising from trespass by livestock that have escaped enclosure. The constable was the local law enforcement. In fact, Dad carried on that tradition as a young man. Justus was my 4th great-grandfather and Austin was my 3rd great-grandfather. Luther was a great uncle.

As far as I know, none of these men were born in hospitals. There weren’t any hospitals in which to be born. So the first one that I know of is my oldest brother, 14 years my senior. I tracked this down looking through an old four-pound box of Crestwood Season’s Greetings Assorted Chocolates. The chocolates were long gone, but there were a lot of old pictures and documents. I found a printed paper in a baby book attributed to the Wellsburg Taxi Company, Directly Opposite of Court House, Wellsburg, WV. The document also had the taxi company’s business card folded up into it. Surprisingly, the document was titled “Blood Tests Before Marriage” and it was for Carl Wilson age 22 and Thelma Humble age 16. WHAT? That’s right, my mom was 16 when they eloped across the state line in West Virginia. Something Mom didn’t discuss much!

They were married the 30th of August 1940. There was a ragged old newspaper clip folded inside the book, saying “In Hospitals” and it was announcing births in the Warren City, Ohio hospital. The last one listed was “A son to Mr. and Mrs. Carl Wilson, Wayland.” Now, I know you are all counting 9 months forward. Save you some time. In the baby book it says that the baby’s arrival was Saturday, August 2, 1941, 4 pounds 11 ounces, born at 4:50 am in Warren City Hospital. This was the first Wilson born in a hospital, some 125 years after our farm was homesteaded and 12 years to the day that our great grandfather Charles passed away. The new baby, first to not be born in an equivalent of a barn (as a barn was connected to the house at that time), was named Charles. Chuck was celebrated as like Christ said in John 16:21, “for joy that a man is born into the world.” Chuck was the first born in a hospital.

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Bill Wilson