CAPTAIN HENRY M. WILSON is still actively operating his farm south of Vinton, although he is in his sixty-eighth year and is one of the few survivors who went from Benton county to fight and march for three weary years with Grant, Sheridan and Sherman. He has resided in Benton county since he was a boy and has given his most faithful and efficient services to further its interests, as an agriculturist, a patriot in war and a citizen and public servant in peace. No man can do more and the numerous friends of Captain Wilson warmly accord him both the honor of virtuous intentions and of a practical realization of his honorable aims.
Henry M. Wilson is a native of southern Indiana, born in Scott county, during the month of December, 1842, son of E. H. and Elizabeth (McCosty) Wilson, who located at Vinton, then a town of about three hundred people. The father had met with such serious financial reverses in the Hoosier state that he had fallen from prosperity to the condition of a comparatively penniless farmer. In these straits, with his wife and seven children, he moved to Benton county in 1855, his son Henry being then in his thirteenth year. The father died two years afterward, at forty-five. The family is of Scotch ancestry, William Keith, the grandfather, being born in the mother country and being an emigrant to Pennsylvania in his early manhood. The father was also born in that state; was active in the work of the Presbyterian church from boyhood, and many years of his residence in Indiana was spent in promoting its interests as an elder. His worldly goods were scattered, but his faith in the permanence of other things of greater moment was his support and comfort to the last. The wife and mother was also of Scotch descent, her birthplace being Washington county, Indiana. She was a good and a strong woman and lived to be over eighty years of age, passing away at the home of her son, Captain Wilson, in 1904. Of this family, Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. W. H. Wood, Hugh A. Wilson and Harvey M. Wilson reside in or near Vinton; Edward H. Wilson lives in St. Paul, Minnesota; and James, Alice, Margaret, Minnie and Nancy are deceased.
As Captain Wilson was the oldest son, he did not attend school after his father's death, but assumed a large share of the responsibility for the support of the family. He continued to steadily engage in farming until July, 1862, when, at the age of twenty, he enlisted in Company D, Twenty-eighth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was soon afterward elected first sergeant. Within a year he had risen to a captaincy and, although one of the youngest officers of that grade, served with marked efficiency until his honorable discharge in August, 1865, more than three years from the time of his enlistment. Originally, his regiment was a part of the Thirteenth army corps under General John A. McLearned, but was transferred to the Nineteenth, under Brigadier General Emory, where it remained until the close of the war. He served under Grant at Vicksburg; participated in the expeditions up the Red river and along the Gulf; was with Sheridan's army in the Shenandoah Valley and other Virginia campaigns; and joined Sherman at Savannah, Georgia, for his Carolina operations against Johnston. In spite of all the fierce battles and active campaigns of which he company was a part, Captain Wilson returned to his Iowa home an uninjured man, although during the battle of Vicksburg he temporarily lost his sight, on account of becoming overheated in that terrific battle.
Upon returning from the front Captain Wilson purchased a farm of eighty acres in Taylor township and energetically resumed farming. He finally added to his possessions until he owned two hundred acres, but later sold his property with the exception of the farm on which he now resides. Although often urged to accept various Republican nominations, he has firmly refused since 1867, when he was elected sheriff and served three terms of two years each. Fraternally, he is a Mason and a loyal member of the Grand Army. As he became a member of the former order in 1862 by joining the Vinton lodge, with one exception he is now the oldest Mason in that body, being identified also with the blue lodge and chapter. His local connections with the Grand Army of the Republic are with P. M. Coder Post No. 98.
In 1867 Captain Wilson wedded Miss Callie Cline, born in Johnson county, Indiana, and who came to Benton county with her grandparents in 1852. The six children of this union were as follows: Callie Elizabeth, who became the wife of Burt Pitts, a farmer of Polk township, and the mother of one daughter; Everett M., who is also a farmer of that township; Charles S., who married Miss Laura Dorsey, has three children and is an agriculturist of the township named; Henry F., who died at the age of two years; James N., who married Miss Theo Lagrange, is the father of a daughter and is serving as county treasurer of Benton county; and William P., who resides on the home farm. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, like all the family, are stanch members of the Presbyterian church.