Twenty-five years ago, no name was more familiar to the people of Indianapolis than that which stands at the head of this sketch. Although he is yet living, he is not so well known to most of the present citizens of the city.
Mr. Wilson is a native of Pennsylvania, and raised, I think, near Union town. He came to this place in the summer of 1821, a young man, and some few years afterward was married to the eldest daughter of Obadiah Harris, who is one of our prominent and respectable farmers. Mr. Wilson was one of the proprietors of the establishment known as the Bayou Mills and Distillery, situated on the west side of White River, just beyond the old City Cemetery. It was at this distillery he manufactured to an alarming extent that delectable article of beverage, “Bayou Blue,” which was sold to and drank by his thirsty customers a few days before it was a week old. This article has been referred to in another sketch.
Mr. Wilson was among the first litigants before Esquire Basye, and has been a liberal patron to the legal profession since that time. He has been a very energetic man, and has been engaged from time to time in various kinds of business; such as farming, merchandizing, contractor on the National road, the different railroads, built bridges, dug canals; indeed, did all kinds of public work; and, for a while, was a banker in connection with John Wooly.
Mr. Wilson resembles a lame tailor that lived here in early times, who with one leg shorter than the other, used to say he had more ups and downs than any other person in the palce. So has Mr. W. He has been considered rich several times, and as often otherwise. Whether he is now otherwise or not I have no means of knowing; but one thing I do know, I should never select him again to settle an estate that I was interested in. Time has fell heavily upon his head. He looks as though he had lived out his three-score and ten years, and would ere long be called on to appear and render an account of his stewardship on earth. I hope he will be prepared and have his lamp trimmed. If he is not, I hope the Lord will be lenient with him.
Nowland, John H. B., “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis, with Short Biographical Sketches of Its Early Citizens, and of a Few of the Prominent Business Men of the Present Day,” 1870, pp. 80-81