Gopher Genealogy by Susan LeBlanc provides information about research, lectures, published articles and book reviews, and Serendipity Moments that are the results of searching for ancestors both personally and for clients. The objective of the blog is for others to receive insight and inspiration in doing their family history research. It is an evolving method of communication and input from reviewers is welcome.
Genealogy Serendipity Moments and "The Wilsons of Wilsonville"
For this weeks serendipity moments I am including an article I wrote the year before with Vicki Bonagofski for the GFO Bulletin, published in December 2010. Vicki and I discussed using information she gathered in research on the Wilson family as a possible article. We collaborated and tried to piece together the family story. She continues to work on the family history and we discuss possible searches for information. In return she occasionally provides information about my ancestors who lived in the same town. Last week while doing some onsite research in a Heritage Center I came across some post office ledger books that contain information on our families. Imagine finding the Wilson family post office box rental record for box 23, looking across the room at the post office boxes and seeing that number. How many times in their lives did they visit this box in search of letters from loved ones? Later in the week I will share more of what we found in the ledger books, but for now I wanted to share this family story. In the pursuit of further knowledge some of the details of the article have come into question; such is the case in doing genealogy work. If you have information about the family please contact us.
The “Wilsons” of Wilsonville By Vicki Bonagofski and Susan LeBlanc
The area that we now know as Wilsonville, Oregon found its early beginnings as the Donation Land Claim of Thomas Bailey.This tract of land was then located in Yamhill County. Thomas Bailey was the postmaster for Yam Hill from 1856-1857. Later he sold his property to Jessie V. Boone.
In 1859, citizens filed a petition requesting that the Yamhill County line be moved. This request was approved. A small part of Yamhill County, which included the area that became Wilsonville, then became part of Clackamas County.
Jessie V. Boone owned the land previously purchased from Thomas Bailey until his murder in March 1872. The Thomas Bailey Donation Land Claim made up what is now the Old Town portion of Wilsonville.[i] The area was referred to as “Boones Ferry” and “Boones Landing.” Mr. Boone was a highly respected member of the community.After his death, it was necessary to probate his estate in order to pay off his personal debts and distribute any assets. The County Court of Clackamas established strict guidelines as to the administration of the Boone estate.In particular, certain tracts of land were designated to be sold.On the 31st day of December 1872 at 1:00 pm at the Courthouse door in Oregon City, three tracts of land were to be auctioned.If the first two tracts of land should bring the sum of $1,050, the auctioneer need not sell the third.It was required that the “Administrators Sale” be advertised for four or more consecutive weeks preceding the time of the sale.A complete legal description of the property was printed in the newspaper, but one sentence described the property in simple terms:
Oregon City Enterprise
….on the first described tract is a comfortable frame dwelling and barn, with a good bearing orchard.
Charles Wilson was the highest bidder for the first tract of land. He paid $550 in gold coin, as the payment in gold coin was a requirement of the Court. Dr. H. W. Ross purchased the second tract of land for the sum of $600. The third tract was not sold.
On the tract of land that Charles Wilson purchased from the Boone estate, Wilson opened a mercantile store and later became the postmaster of Boon’s Ferry in December of 1876.[ii] The newspaper announced to the community of Wilson’s plans to form a town.
Oregon City Enterprise
April 18, 1878
Charles Wilson, postmaster and merchant of this place, proposes to lay out forty acres of land on the river for a town site, and the embryo city has already been christened Wilsonville.
The Post Office name officially changed from Boon’s Ferry to Wilsonville in June 1880. Charles Wilson and his family were in Pleasant Hill, Clackamas County, Oregon in the 1880 census. He was born about 1827 in Holstein, Germany. Fredericka his wife was born about 1850 in Weitzenburg, Germany. His place of birth varies between Denmark, Holland and Germany in the later census records of his children. Their children were all born in Oregon, Louisa in 1870, Amelia in 1872, William in 1873, Matilda in 1874, Charles in 1877 and Lawrence in 1878. Charles was a retail grocer.[iii]
In May 1883, Charles Wilson sold his store and 48 acres of land to William and Henry Miley. By the 1900 census the Wilsons lived in West Cedar Creek, Washington County, Oregon (a part of Sherwood) and he was a farmer on their own farm. His two oldest sons are listed as farm laborers. Charles’ birth is April 1827 and Fredrica’s is August 1849. They were married in about 1870 and Fredrica had given birth to eleven children, nine of whom were living. Six children were living with them, William born February 1874, Lawrence born August 1876, Rosa born October 1883, Nellie born June 1885, Mary born July 1889, and Harry born March 1894. Charles came to the United States in 1852, and was a naturalized citizen. Fredericka came in 1870. His parents were born in England and hers were born in Germany.[iv]
Charles Wilson remained active by serving on the school board for Wilsonville, but later retired to Sherwood, Oregon. He ran a general store, was postmaster and served as mayor of Wilsonville according to the family.[v] Charles Wilson died November 27, 1905. His obituary reads as follows:
Oregon City Enterprise
December 1, 1905
Died: at his home in Sherwood, Charles Wilson, an old Oregon mercantile pioneer, having been the founder of Wilsonville.He leaves a large family of children and grandchildren besides his wife.The burial took place in the Pleasant Hill cemetery.
Fredericka Kurz or Kurtz Wilson died February 1, 1937, and her obituary is from an unknown newspaper dated 1937:
FUNERAL SERVICE FOR PIONEER WOMAN HELD SUNDAY
Funeral services for Mrs. Fredricka Wilson, pioneer Oregon woman who died on February 1, were held last Sunday afternoon at the Sherwood Methodist church under the direction of J. P. Finley & Son of Portland.
Fredricka Kurtz was born in Wattenberg, Germany August 15, 1849. She came to Oregon in 1871. She was over 88 years of age when her eventful life was closed. She had lived 42 years in Sherwood.
She was married to Charles Wilson and to this union 12 children were born, five boys and seven girls. She also raised two step-children. The father and husband, two boys and three girls preceded her in death. Mrs. Wilson was a member of the Lutheran church.
The Wilson family moved in 1871 to what is now Wilsonville, the town being named from them, where Mrs. Wilson operated the first store and post office. She herself brought the mail from Champoeg by rowboat and later from Aurora by horseback.
Those bereaved by her death include Mrs. R. H. Thompson and Mrs. W. O. Roy of Portland, and Mrs. Anna Hess, Mrs. Matilda Voss, William and Laurence Wilson, all of Sherwood, and Harry Wilson of Cook, Wash.There were 12 children in the family, 33 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren, 6 great great grandchildren, a niece and a nephew.[vi]
The family burial plot at Pleasant View Cemetery, near Sherwood, includes
Father Charles Wilson, 1830-1906, Founder of Wilsonville, in Lot 15- Plot 1, and Mother Fredericka Wilson 1852-1937, in Lot 15- Plot 2. The following is a list of his children and those known to be buried in Pleasant View Cemetery are noted with the letters PVC.[vii] His daughters are listed with their married surnames.[viii]
1853John Wilson born in Iowa
1857William Wilson born in Minnesota
PVC1860-1899Bertha Wilson Hasslebrink born in Minnesota (Lot 14, Plot 9) (married Louis Hasslebrink, five known children)[ix]
The following children were from his second marriage, all born in Oregon.
PVC1871-1921Louisa (Lizzie) Wilson Boston (Lot 45, Plot 8) (Married Willie A. Boston in about 1889, eight known children)[x]
____1872-bfr 1910Amelia Wilson Gosser (married Frank Gosser, four known children)[xi]
PVC 1873-1969William Wilson (Lot 15, Plot 5) (Divorced)
PVC 1874-1951Matilda Wilson Voss (Lot 22, Plot 4) (married Henry Voss, one known child.) [xii]
PVC 1876-1890 Charles Wilson (died at 14, missing a headstone, Lot 47, Plot 9)
PVC1879-1949 Lawrence Wilson (Lot 15, Plot 4) (Single in 1920)
MC1881-1953Anna Wilson Hess (married Jasper Hess, they are buried in Middleton Cemetery in Sherwood, Oregon, they had five known children)[xiii]
PVC1882-1884 Fritz Wilson (died as an infant, Lot 47, Plot 10)
RVC1883-1961Rose Wilson Thompson (married Ralph E. Thompson, they are buried in Riverview Cemetery, Portland, Oregon, four known children)[xiv]
PVC1885-1927 Nellie Wilson Smith Glover (Lot 15, Plot 3) (first married James Smith and second married Roy Glover, two known children of Smith)[xv]
RVC1889-1980Mary Wilson Roy (living with sister Nellie in 1910, married Winston Odell Roy, they are buried in Riverview Cemetery, Portland, Oregon)[xvi]
PVC 1894-1975Harry Wilson (Lot 15, Plot 6) (married Edith, five known daughters)[xvii]
The following obituaries for his sons provide some additional family information.
Obituary: The Enterprise, 1890
Charles Wilson Jr.
Died: Mr. Wilson, founder of Wilsonville, lost his 14 years old son this week. Diptheria was the fatal disease.
Obituary:Unknown newspaper clipping, 1969
William Wilson, 95, formerly of Sherwood, died Mar. 19 in the Forest Grove Community hospital. Graveside services were at Pleasant Hill Cemetery Saturday with the Rev. Otis Harden officiating.
Mr. Wilson was born the son of Charles Wilson and the former Fredriecka Kurtz on Sept. 26, 1873 in Wilsonville. He moved with his parents at the age of five.
Their home was where the present school buildings are now located. Mr. Wilson has continued to live at the rear of the school property in a small cottage.He was confined to a nursing home the past five years.
Surviving are a sister, Mrs. Mary Roy, Portland; brother Harry Wilson of Cook, Wash.; several nieces and nephews including Mrs. Vena Ober of Banks.Sherwood Attrell's Funeral Chapel was in charge of the arrangements.
Obituary:Skamania County Pioneer, Dec. 12, 1975
Harry Wilson, WWI Veteran, Succumbs at 81
Funeral services were held Wednesday for Harry Wilson, World War I veteran and longtime resident of the Mill A-Cook area, who died in a Vancouver hospital Saturday, December 6 at the age of 81.
Mr. Wilson was born March 18, 1894 in Wilsonville, Oregon, the son of pioneers Charles and Fredricka Kurtz Wilson who had founded the town and for whom it was named.Charles Wilson ran a general store, was postmaster and served as mayor of Wilsonville, located near Portland in the Willamette Valley.
Harry Wilson grew up in Wilsonville and served in France during World War I with the 9th Field Signal Battalion, attached to the 5th Infantry Division.In 1919 he and his wife Edith moved to the Mill A area and later to Cook.During the 1930's he served as a tractor driver and supervisor with the Civilian Conservation Corps and later was a Skamania County employee until his retirement. Mr. Wilson was a member of the Masonic Lodge 187 of Carson and was active in the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and World War I Barracks.
He is survived by his wife Edith of Boise, Idaho; four daughters, Mrs. Patricia DeWalt of White Salmon, Wanda Clifford of Boise, Harriet Bone of Huntington, Oregon and Floradele Wykle of Denver, Colorado.Also surviving is one sister, Mary Roy of Portland.There are 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Funeral services were held Wednesday at Gardner's Funeral Home in White Salmon with the Rev. Fred Haag officiating.Interment followed at the Pleasant View Cemetery in Sherwood, Oregon.Serving as honorary casket bearers were Irwin E. Brock, Cecil Nichols, Eric Kuehl, Fred Nielsen, Walter Hockinson and Sid Ostroski.
Vicki Bonagofski retired from the phone company after 25 years of service.She has one daughter that is married, and two grand dogs and three grand cats. She has one cat of her own that is named after her Great Great Grandmother, Betsy. Currently, she is a foster parent. She started her genealogy research in 1998 and has loved every minute since. She belongs to several organizations:GFO, Sherwood Historical Society, Wilsonville-Boones Ferry Historical Society, Sons of Norway, and is the past president of the Daughters of Norway.
[i] Charlotte Lehan, Pleasant View Cemetery Webmaster, www.pleasantviewcemetery.org. Email correspondence June 14, 2010. This web site is very informational, providing family history information and details about the burials located there.
[ii] Letter from the United States Postal Service Information Systems dated September 14, 1999.
The letter stated, "The Wilsonville Post Office was originally established as Boon's Ferry in Clackamas County on December 7 1876, with Charles Wilson as the first postmaster"
The letter also listed the postmasters that served through 1901.
[iii] 1880 US Federal Census, Pleasant Hill, Clackamas, Oregon; Roll 1080; Family History Film: 1255080; Page: 207C; Enumeration District: 18; Image: 0412. ancestry.com, accessed June 13, 2010.
[iv] 1900 US Federal Census, West Cedar Creek, Washington, Oregon; RollT623, 1353; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 154. ancestry.com, accessed June 13, 2010.
[v] Charlotte Lehan, Pleasant View Cemetery Webmaster, www.pleasantviewcemetery.org. Email correspondence July 5, 2010. Wilsonville was not incorporated as a city until 1969 and did not have an official mayor until that time. He may have thought of as a mayor, but it would not have been an official position.
Pleasant Valley Cemetery notes -Daughter of Charles Wilson born in Danemark and his first wife Fredricka born about 1837 in Oldenburgh, her last name is unknown, not Fredricka Kurtz who is buried next to Charles. Bertha was married in Charles Wilson's house in Wilsonville and it was in the newspaper. Bertha was born in Minnesota and had two brothers John and William whose burial location is unknown.Her daughter, Amelia Peters, owned Peters Hardware Store in Wilsonville in the early 1900s.
[x] 1920 US Federal Census Sherwood, Washington, Oregon; RollT625_1505; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 426; Image: 1047. ancestry.com, accessed 15 June 2010.
West Cedar, Washington, Oregon; RollT624_1291; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 282; Image: 566. ancestry.com, accessed 15 June 2010.
1900 US Federal CensusPleasant Hill, Clackamas, Oregon; RollT623_1345; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 79. ancestry.com, accessed 15 June 2010.
[xi] 1900 US Federal Census Tualatin, Clackamas, Oregon; RollT623_1345; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 79. ancestry.com, accessed 15 June 2010.
1910 US Federal Census Tualatin, Clackamas, Oregon; RollT624_1279; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 48; Image: 644. ancestry.com, accessed 15 June 2010.
[xii] 1900 US Federal Census Pleasant Hill, Clackamas, Oregon; RollT623_1345; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 79. ancestry.com, accessed 15 June 2010.
1910 US Federal Census Pleasant Hill, Clackamas, Oregon; RollT624_1279; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 46; Image: 623. ancestry.com, accessed 15 June 2010.
[xiii] 1910 US Federal Census East Cedar, Washington, Oregon; RollT624_1291; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 271; Image: 272. ancestry.com, accessed 17 June 2010.
1920 US Federal Census Tualatin, Washington, Oregon; RollT625_1505; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 434; Image: 1172. ancestry.com, accessed 17 June 2010.
1930 US Federal Census Pleasant Hill, Clackamas, Oregon; Roll1940; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 84; Image: 844.0. ancestry.com, accessed 17 June 2010.
Family Contribution: Youngest child of Charles and Fredericka Wilson. He died Dec. 6, 1975 in Vancouver, WA.Brother of William, Lawrence, Charles ("Fritz"), Fred, Nellie Wilson Smith (Glover), "Lizzie" Louisa Boston, Matilda Voss and step-brother to Bertha Hasslebrink, all buried in this cemetery.His other sisters are Anna Hess, Rose Thompson, Mary Roy and Amelia Gosser buried in other places.