Father: Edwin Earl Wilson “Earl”
Born: May 21, 1886 Diona, Illinois
Died: October 11, 1971 Webster City, Iowa Age 85
Parents: James & Emily Wilson
Mother: Ethel Belle Shields
Born: February 16, 1886 Illinois
Died: April 6, 1967 Webster City, Iowa Age 81
Parents: John & Martha Shields
Married: March 12, 1905 for over 62 years
Buried: Webster City Cemetery, Webster City, Iowa. Wilson Lot near the northwest side.
The Wilson family started out farming near Louisville, Illinois then later moved to Iowa. Their hard work paid off and at one time they had over $16,000 in cash. This was during the Depression, which saw many banks fail, so the money was kept buried in the garden.
Earl was a hard working, serious man. His politics, like many Midwest farmers of the early 20th century, were very conservative — and set in stone. His oldest son once teased him that he’d vote for a snake if it was Republican.
In a family consisting of three boys and two girls, Earl was often the disciplinarian. When one of the boys burned down the outhouse door, his punishment was to spend a day tied to the clothesline outside. A rug had to suffice as a temporary door until a new once could be built.
Earl also had very definite ideas about how and when things should be done. In his view, none of the children were ever too old for a bit of advice or assistance. When one of his sons (by this time a grown man with a family of his own) postponed the spring plowing for a day because the fields were too wet, Earl drove out to the farm to do the plowing himself. Upon returning from an afternoon of fishing, the son was then greeted with the site of his tractor firmly mired in the middle of the field!
Ethel was a frail woman who was often sick during her long life. She was especially troubled by headaches which she eased by wearing a wet washcloth on her head. This was eased by finally, at the age of seventy-eight, being persuaded to go to a chiropractor. Ethel also had contracted tuberculosis when a young mother. She was always afraid of her children getting it from her and was therefore not very affectionate.
Her ailments did not prevent her from being an industrious and kind woman. Her strength of character was often a perfect foil for her husband’s excitability and provided a strong set of values for the family. During the Depression, when it began to look like the bank that held their savings account was going to close, Earl went down to withdraw the family’s money. While there, he was persuaded to take out only half of it. When Ethel discovered this she said to him, “You have taken my half out of the bank. Now go back down there and get your half!”. All of the Wilson family money was thus safely retrieved.
After farming for many years, the couple retired in Webster City, Iowa. Sunday afternoons during the summer would often find them fishing off the Old White Bridge over the Iowa river after enjoying a picnic lunch. Both were avid fishermen and would often travel up to Minnesota on fishing trips. Earl also liked working in his garden and woe to the grandchild who entered it without his permission! (The buried money may had something to do with this attitude.)
Ethel’s declining health resulted in her eventually being put in a nursing home, but the stay was a short one. After only a few days, Ethel called her husband and said, “Earl! Come down and get me out of here!”. She was moved back home and died there of a heart attack one April evening in 1967.
Earl lived four more years and continued to fish whenever he could. Leukemia and the loss of his driver’s license eventually made it difficult to get around, but he never stopped trying. Even up to his final days he was optimistic about retaking his driving test and regaining his independence.
Children of Earl & Ethel Wilson Glen Shields Wilson – Farmer, Woodworker Born: October 13, 1905Died: October 22, 1997 Mildred May Wilson (Hoverstein) – Housewife Born: February 1, 1907Died: ?? Lesslie Earl Wilson – Farmer Born: September 5, 1908Died: 1987 Ruby Belle Wilson (Caudle) – Housewife Born: January 16, 1911Died: May 11, 1995 William Edwin Wilson – Farmer Born: October 13, 1920Died: 2011
Top Row: Les, Earl (dad), Glen, Edwin
Bottom Row: Ruby, Ethel (mom), Mildred
Picture probably taken in the early 1930s.