Wilson is another name of great popularity. I know this maternal side of my mother’s family was from Scotland. What is certain is the marriage of William Frederick Wilson I to Esther Helen Bicking; not so certain is the date of the wedding. Esther Bicking's family had come from Winterburg, Westphalia, Germany sometime in the mid-1700s. Her father, Frederick, managed one of the several paper mills started by the family around Milltown, Pennsylvania (later Downingtown).
William and Esther begat six children and here lines began to entangle. Their third child was a daughter named Emma Bicking Wilson. In 1866 Emma married Benjamin Franklin Meredith I. Benjamin and Emma are my Great, Great Grandparents on my father’s side.
William and Esther’s fourth child, Emma’s brother William II, married Anna Margaret Dunlap on March 25, 1879. Anna was the third child of James Evans Dunlap and Rachel Supplee Boyer (pictured on right at the top). William and Anna are my Great Grandparents on my mother’s side.
This means William II is also my Great Uncle and Emma is my Great Aunt. My mother and father are Second Cousins.6
William Frederick Wilson II went by the name Fred. He was a busy fellow. He owned a great deal of land in Uwchlan Township, which he called Marchwood, where he farmed and raised dairy cattle. He sold the milk in Philadelphia where he gained a reputation for honesty. He also was an auctioneer and the proprietor of the Brandywine Hotel that existed once above Coatesville.
William II, as did his father, had six children, the three eldest were boys and the three youngest girls. William Frederick Wilson III, known as Billy, and Samuel Heber (who went by Heber) were long time farmers in Chester County. The middle of the three sons was James Evans (who went by Evans). He was also a farmer, but died in 1931 bringing hay to the barn. He slipped off the wagon and its wheels ran over his head. James left behind two young children, Mildred and Robert (Bob). Robert Wilson was to later own a number of local hotels, including The Eagle Tavern in Eagle and The Swan Hotel in Downingtown.7
The family was to experience a schism some years later from this death. As is often the case it was a trifling matter. When Helen died, her oldest brother Billy and his wife Lizzie adopted Emily Margaret Downing. Herford kept his son; Herford Jr. Herford Sr. remarried the year after Helen’s demise.
In my youth I attended the annual Wilson Family reunions. I always enjoyed being with my Cousin Audrey June White. She attended with her mother, Beulah Downing White and grandmother Sadie Guest, who was a sweet elderly lady. I was to learn that Audrey was not my cousin. Sadie Guest was the second wife of Herford Downing Sr. after Helen’s death. Beulah had then been Sadie’s child by Herford and thus not blood. 8
For whatever reason, some resented Sadie Guest being invited to the reunions and made a “them or us” proclamation. The family elected to continue inviting Sadie, Beulah and Aubrey and so one branch boycotted the reunions for a number of years.
William and Anna’s sixth child was Esther, born in 1899 (pictured right at age 12). She is my
(The picture captioned Our Family is from left to right standing: Heber, Clara, Evans, Billy and Helen; seated is William Frederick [Fred] Wilson II and Anna Margaret Dunlap Wilson holding baby Esther, 1899)
6. Wilson Family History
Horace Wilson (pictured right)
7. Chester and Delaware County Families
Chester County Historical Society Library
Email Concerning Downing family
August 6, 1999