CHARLES  LEE  WILSON

                                                      By Charles C. Wilson (early/mid-1990’s)

[Note: In its original form, this article included photos within the text. For technical reasons, those have been omitted from this version. To
see the accompanying photos, click the links within the text or on the navigation bar above.]

    The eighth child of Levi W. Wilson and Leona J. Shepherd, Charles Lee Wilson was born on 3 May 1892 at the family cabin on
Indian Creek, Yancey County, North Carolina.  He had six brothers and four sisters: The boys, bottom row, left to right:  Wiley
Patton, Lattie Jerome, Elzy Lenoir, Creed Frazer. Top row, left to right: Charles Lee, Ernest Grandison,  Richmond Pearson. We
have no similar picture of the girls:  Ella M., Minnie B., Stella Lou, and Eula Pansey.  All were born between 1877 and 1899.

Charles often talked about his early years, helping to work the farm, and hunting and camping in the mountains with his brothers.  
He told of a particular hunting trip during the Fall of the year when nights were cold.  The boys found a deserted cabin which
appeared to be a good place to spend the night.  They built a fire in the stone fireplace and, as the room warmed, rattlesnakes began
dropping out of the rafters and crawling out of the walls around the fireplace.  The boys took off fast.  They spent the rest of the
night cold, but safe, under some overhanging rocks.

On another camping trip,  the boys had been several days in the mountains. Their food was gone and they were hungry.  Looking
down the slope, they saw an inviting berry patch.  As they hurried toward it, a bear came out of the woods and ate all the berries
while the boys watched from a distance.

His early education was obtained at a log school about two miles up Indian Creek from the home place.  However, the experiences
he most enjoyed recalling were his years spent at the Asheville Farm School.  This was a boarding school at Swananoa, just east of
Asheville, operated by the Presbyterian Church.  The school was opened in 1894. It taught the fundamentals of reading,  writing,  
Bible study,  and farming techniques.[1]

Summers  were spent working the school farm to help pay board and  tuition. During the school term,  he worked  in the kitchen
helping to prepare meals for the students. Nothing was wasted. He told of soaking day-old bread overnight and adding it to pancake
batter to make breakfast the next day. He said the stove was long,  and he would pour out batter starting at the left-hand side and
continuing to the right-hand edge.  By that time, the pancakes on the left side were ready to turn.  He turned these down the stove,
and by the time he got to the end, the first ones were ready to come off.  It sounded like a real production line.

Charles described occasional trips home from the school as walking up Bee Tree Creek, then across Big Ivy Creek,  and through
Maney Gap to Indian Creek.  This is a distance of about 20 miles "as the crow flies".  However, considering the mountainous
terrain, it was probably longer.  He said it took a full day to make the trip.  Needless to say, trips home were infrequent.

Charles’ class at the Farm School consisted of 20 boys who graduated in 1910. His brother Ernest attended school in the same
class. He was class secretary and treasurer. Charles was valedictorian  

The commencement program was as follows:



PROGRAM[2]

Invocation   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .Rev. C G. Reynolds, D. D.

Chorus .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . .Marvelous Work   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .Hayden        

                                                                 Mixed Voices

 Salutatory  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  Robert Young

 Solo .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . Sunshine and Rain   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .Parris Gallamore

 A Story of Our Feathered Friends                                                                              Blaine Robinson
                                           

Song .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . Away To  The Fields .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  White      

                                                                    Glee Club

 Recitation  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  The Homestead  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .Elijah Kerlee

 Song .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . . The May Bell And Flowers     

                                                        Girls of the Home Industrial School

 Oration  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . Practical Farming  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .Harrison Southers

 Song  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .The Dear Homeland  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .Macy                        

                                                               Glee Club

Oration .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .      Spartacaus To The Gladiators .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    Ewart Graham

Solo .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   Selected

Talk .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .   Our  Cotton  Mills .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .Thomas Patterson

Trio .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . Whither    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    Shubert     

                                            Girls of Normal College Institute

Valedictory Address  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    Welding The Bonds    

                                                             Charles Wilson

Quartette  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       The Trout  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  . Schubert  

                                                                 Mixed Voices

Presentation of Certificates .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   Dr. Rogers

Class Poem  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   Robert Young

Song  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   By The Class

Unfortunately,  no copy of the valedictory address is available as everything was destroyed by fire in 1914.   It razed the school
buildings and, with them, the records.  The school was rebuilt as Warren Wilson College in the 1930's, and now operates as a four-
year liberal arts institution.[3]

Although work and study  at the Farm School kept him busy,  Charles did have opportunity  for social life,  particularly during the
winter months. A postcard to his brother Latt, from the Farm School on 10 January 1910  reveals:

Hello Latt,  how are you?  By now guess you are having a good time.  Guess  you  had a good
time Xmas.  I sure did. I sport some of the girls around here on  Sundays now.  Mr. Lanace that
lives over at the old Mines Place has two of  the  prettiest little girls I ever saw, and I go over and
visit them on Sundays.[4]

                                                              Chas

   After graduation,  Charles had a varied career with a number of different employers.  By 1915 or 1916,  he was in Rochester,
NY,  where he met and married Leola Shaw.  They were married on 20 September 1916.  Leola Shaw was the daughter of Walter
L. Shaw of East Pembroke, and Clara A. Smith of West Batavia. Both towns are in Genesee County, NY.

The following is a postcard from them on 20 September 1916:

We are having a great time here. We were up on campus (Cornell University) yesterday and were
through most of the buildings.[5]

                    Charles and Leola                          



Charles was rejected for military service during World War I because he was deaf in his left ear. He said he had been deaf in that ear
as long as he  could remember and thought it was the result of an early childhood disease.

About 1920, Charles and Leola moved to Cleveland,  Ohio,  where they lived at 5612 Grand Avenue.  A postcard to  L. J. Wilson  
(his brother Latt) postmarked 11 April 1922, suggests that Charles and Leola had only recently arrived in Cleveland:

I wonder how you are getting along?  How is Arthur?
(Latt’s older son) Lots of work here and wages are good. Lots of Raisin Jack too, but I haven't  tried
it.  (Probably home-made booze.  This was the prohibition era).  We have a very nice place to
live, but it is up-stairs.[6]

                                                      Leola and Charles

In the Fall of that year,  Charles and Leola took a trip back to the old home place on Indian Creek.  We have a picture of Leola sitting
on a rail fence at Maney Gap. In describing the event,  Charles said they took a train to Asheville, a street car to the end of the line, a
taxi to the end of the road,  then walked through Maney Gap to Indian Creek,  and then down the road to home.

Another postcard to Mr. and Mrs. Latt Wilson,  dated 14 October 1920 was written by Leola:

Have just been home for two weeks.  Had a splendid trip and a fine time while home. Sorry we
missed Latt and Wiley.  Left mother quite well, better than I expected. Saw Ern
(his older brother). a
few minutes tonight.  We leave here (Asheville) tomorrow night  at nine o'clock.
[7]                                                                                     

                                   Charles and Leola

Back in Cleveland, they moved into half a double house on East 72nd St. It was while they lived here that their son,  Charles C.
Wilson, was born on 7 January 1924.  Charles L. Wilson worked in the construction industry for the Austin Company as a
carpenter.  Sometime during the mid-1920's, while on the job, Charles had an accident operating a bandsaw. His left thumb was
severed at the first joint. In later years,  he would tell his grandchildren that he lost it from sucking his thumb.  They didn’t believe a
word of it.  Sometime during the late 1920's, Charles joined the Masonic Order. He belonged to the Brenton D. Babcock Lodge in
Cleveland, Ohio.  He never moved  his membership from there.  He thought that sometime he might want to move to their retirement
home in Springfield, OH.

The first home of their own was at 1053 Greyton Road in Cleveland Heights.  It was a 2-story house with a full basement.  Charles
contracted for it's construction, and they moved into it new.  This was sometime within the 1927-1929 time period.  Work became
scarce during the depression years,  and payments on the house could not be maintained.  The family savings were wiped out in the
bank closings,  and the house was lost to foreclosure.  The family moved to a rental house several blocks away on Nela View Road.
They remained there until they moved from the Cleveland area.  The times were tough, but Charles persevered.

Charles and Leola  were members  of the Cleveland  Heights Presbyterian Church.  Their next-door neighbor when they lived on
Greyton Road was Mike Sumwalt. He was Superintendent of Sunday School,  and Dr. Lewis was Pastor.  A Sunday School friend
of his, Zack Taylor,  worked for the General Electric Company.  Zack persuaded Charles (and it didn’t take much persuasion) to
join GE, and move South with him when he opened the Jackson Lamp Works in Mississippi.  This was Fall 1938.  In Jackson, after
the building was complete, Charles became Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds,  a position he held until retirement in 1957.

Soon after moving to Jackson,  Charles and his family joined the Central Presbyterian Church located on West Capitol Street.  In the
early 1940's, a new church,  Westminster Presbyterian Church, was formed in West Jackson at the corner of West Capitol Street
and Road of Remembrance. Both he and Leola were active charter members there.  Charles became an Elder and taught Sunday
School.  Leola played piano and organ for the church services.  After several years under the leadership of Rev. Tom Kay,  the
church outgrew it’s building and a new facility was constructed farther west on the  Clinton Road. The original church  has now
been torn down and  replaced by apartments. Charles supervised and participated in the construction of the new building. Much of
the work  was done by church-member volunteers.  Charles was a good finish carpenter and personally made the pulpit and flower
tables for the new church.

Charles loved to fish and garden.  When he was first in Jackson, he had a large garden  behind the GE Plant.  Later, he "farmed”
only a small plot at his Roslyn Avenue home.   In the 1950’s, he became a member of a fishing club.  The members purchased a
small lake and surrounding land Northwest of Jackson on Highway 49, up toward Flora.  He took his grandchildren fishing there
when they visited during summer vacations. The club has disbanded, and the property now contains private homes.

Three years later, in February 1960,  Leola passed away as a result of an auto accident. This ended a long and happy marriage.  She
is buried next to her mother in Lakewood Memorial Park on Clinton Road in Jackson, MS.

The next year, on 1 December 1961, Charles married Vera Ann Nelson Ball, a widow then living in Evanston, IL., north of Chicago.  
Vera is a sister to Maude Nelson Gridley, the wife of Charles' good friend Cecil Gridley who probably introduced them.  Both Maude
and Cecil are now deceased.  Vera moved to Jackson and the two lived in the Roslyn Avenue house.

In retirement, Charles continued to be active in church work.  He and a friend, Jesse Ward,  would get names and addresses of
newcomers to the community from the Power and Light  Company.  They then would visit their homes, and invite them to church.  
Here is one of Charles’ prayers,  said with some variations at breakfast table each morning:

"Our most gracious Heavenly Father,  we thank you for bringing  us through another  night.  Watch  over  us through this day.  
May all our acts and thoughts be acceptable in Thy sight.   We thank you for your love and grace;  and for our  health  and strength;
and for this food.  Bless it to the use of our body, and us to your service.  Forgive all our sins.  For we ask in the name of Jesus our
Lord. For it is in his name we pray. Amen."

   When he was about 80 years old,  Charles, by himself, put a new roof on his garage.  When he was about 90 years old, he had
surgery on both of his eyes.  All did not go according to plan afterwards,  and he became almost blind.  He could distinguish large
objects at a distance, and could detect motion at close range.  However,  he could no longer read, watch TV,  or do the many other
active things he so enjoyed.

   This new sedentary lifestyle was hard for a man who had been extremely active all his life. His general health deteriorated
gradually, although he remained robust for several years.  Charles L.  Wilson died of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease at 9:20
PM on 10 December 1991 in the emergency room  at the Methodist Medical Center in West Jackson.[8]  He lived for 99 years, and
7months. The Church, now Providence Presbyterian Church in Clinton, MS,  was planning a big  "Century Celebration”  for him,  
but he didn’t quite make it.  His Church friends really helped out during his final years. Charles is buried beside Leola and her mother
in Lakewood Memorial Park in Jackson, MS. Vera is in a nursing home in Memphis, TN, near her son, James; although she has
probably passed away by now.


AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL AND FAMILY RECOLLECTIONS OF CHARLES L. WILSON

There  was a one-story log cabin located between the current house and Indian Creek.  The logs were worked with a broad-ax by
John W. Shepherd, Leona's older brother,  who lived across the road.  The family lived in  the cabin until the home was built
sometime around 1912.

My  Uncle Will  (probably Levi’s brother) lived on Alex Branch, up the road (south) from the home place on Indian Creek.  He had
girl children, some of whom moved to Salt Lake City.

Wiley  (Dad’s oldest  brother) moved to Lakeville, NY, and worked in a powdered milk factory.   He had a daughter named Ruth.

Latt lived in Rochester,  NY.  He worked for Eastman Kodak. He owned property on Conesus Lake in Lakeville, and had summer
cottages there.  He had two sons, the older named Arthur, the younger named Jack.

   Pearse  (Richmond Pearson) was in the cavalry in Texas. He got into World War I. He shipped out of New Jersey and was 2-
days out when the war ended.  Later, he worked for a railroad in Pennsylvania until he died following an accident in the railroad
yards. He had two children, Helen and Richard.

    Creed lived in Bluefield,  West Virginia.  He was a fireman on the Norfolk and Western Railroad until he died.  He had no children.

   Elzy was a riveter and worked in Pennsylvania before returning to North Carolina where he worked for a lumber company.  
Following that, he farmed the home place and took care of mother.

   Ernest was a photographer  in Asheville.  He worked  for the government during  World War I. Then he went into the
commercial  photography  business. His daughter, Juanita, shared in his business  and took many  of the family photos in the album.

    Dad (Levi) had a sister,  Mary McCurry,  who lived on Jack’s  Creek. She had girls and  boys,  most of whom went West.

    Dad (Levi) had a sister who married a man named Ingle.  They moved to Montana where her husband was in the lumber
business.

   I went  to a log grade school 2 miles  up Indian Creek Road  from  the home place. When I was about 10, I went to the  Asheville
Farm School. This was a mission school  of the Presbyterian Church. At the school  I specialized  in pruning and other care of
orchards.  I worked at the school  during summers to help pay for the schooling. The school produced most of it’s own  food.  I
spent four years there,  graduating in 1910.  Ernest (an older brother) attended the school at the same time. He was class treasurer.

From Farm School,  I went to Lockport, NY (East of Buffalo) where I got a job working in an orchard. I did grafting and pruned
trees.  Although I was pruning according to the techniques taught at the Farm School, the orchard owner was displeased.  He
thought too much live wood was being removed.  We parted by mutual agreement.  He said "you’re fired.”  I said:  "I quit.”

I then went to Wiley's home in Lakeville,  NY.  It was about 1911. I got a job on the boats carrying  passengers up and down
Conesus Lake. During the winter season, I worked in a local vineyard pruning grape vines.  In winter, I helped cut ice blocks from
the lake. These were stored in the ice house for summer use.

   Next I went to Rochester and worked in a button factory of a while. That was dull, and I went West to South Dakota of about a
year.  I worked on a farm near Homewood raising corn.  In Mitchell,  I worked for a contractor paving the main street down past
the Corn Palace.  The winter was much too cold there, so I returned to North Carolina.

   When I got home,  a railroad was being constructed along the Cain River to haul out wood for a casket factory.  I worked with
the construction crew, packing dynamite into holes drilled in the rock,  then firing the charges.

   After this,  I went to Rochester, NY, and took a job at the Country Club serving drinks.  Next, I worked for the Post Office as a
letter carrier with a route on Genesee Street.   During this time, I met and married Leola Shaw.

We met at a Baptist Church. A friend of mine had a job pumping air for the church organ.  He asked me to sub for him during a
week night practice when Leola, the church organist,  worked up music  for next Sunday.  There was a peep-hole in the curtain  (a
partition separating  the  organ from the air pump).  I looked through, and thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen.  I
stopped pumping air, and the organ stopped playing.  Leola came back to see what had happened and we became acquainted.  We
were married in 1916.

We moved  to Cleveland,  Ohio,  about 1920  because jobs were plentiful there.  I was in the Construction business working for the
Austin Company. Our only child, Charles C. Wilson, was born there on 7 January 1924 when we lived in half a double house on
East 72nd Street.  Later, we moved to Cleveland Heights where we lived in a brand new,  single home at 1053 Greyton Rd.  The
depression years followed, and work was scarce.  The family savings were wiped out during the bank failures, and the house was
lost. Another house, a rental property, was available several blocks away. So we moved to 827 Nela View Road. We remained there
until 1939 when I took a job with the General Electric Company which was about to open the Jackson Lamp Works. We moved to
Jackson, Mississippi in 1938 and lived at 106 Roslyn Ave., in West Jackson. I worked at the GE Plant until retirement in 1957. The
Jackson Lamp Works is now closed.

    Leola Shaw Wilson,  born in Batavia,  NY,  was the daughter of Walter L. Shaw and Clara A. Smith.  Leola had younger
brother,  Darwin Shaw,  who with his wife, Marie, lived at 33 West High Terrace in Rochester.  They had two sons Darwin Jr., and
Richard,  both residents of Rochester.  Darwin Sr. worked for the Bausch and Lomb Optical Company.  Darwin Jr. worked for the
Taylor Instrument Company.  Richard was a fireman working for the City

Clara Smith’s parents were Darwin Smith and Sarah Bezona  who were married about 1861.  Darwin was born in East Pembroke,
and Sarah in West Batavia, NY.  This  branch  of the family (it is not clear whether the Smiths or  Bezonas), came to the U.S. from
France through Canada.[9]

   Clara Smith’s husband was Walter L. Shaw. They were married about 1888. Walter was the son  of Edwin Shaw and Ellen
McWain  who were married in 1859 at Corfu, NY.  Walter was a farmer and died in Batavia about 1911 or 1912.[10]

    Clara Smith married again to Bert Cheney before 1916 in Perry, NY.  He worked in a knitting mill in Perry.  Later, they moved to
Rochester, and then to a farm in Pennsylvania somewhere South of Erie. (We now know it was at Roulette in Potter County). Bert
died there in about 1933.



YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN[11]

Those  are the words  of Jackson Lamp’s first  pensioner,  Charlie Wilson.   Known around Jackson Lamp as "Pop Wilson, Charlie
marks his 22nd year of retirement this summer.

Charlie’s  career at Jackson Lamp is a colorful one and dates  back  to the plant’s opening in 1940. He was working for a
construction company in the Cleveland, Ohio, area in 1938 when his close friend Zack Taylor was called to open a Fluorescent
Lamp Plant.  Zack told me that he  needed someone  to supervise the construction of the roof,  so I said 'why not'?  Highway 80
was still a dirt road under construction.  Charlie soon worked his way into the general construction of the plant.  The biggest trick
was getting 5-ton machines up 3-ton elevators.

    It was Charlie’s idea to construct a well behind the plant.  Forty years later his idea prevented a shutdown,  as the well provided
Jackson Lamp’s water supply during the 1972 flood.

   Charlie spends much of his time these day gardening and reading.  He is also very involved in church work.  Charlie is very
pleased with GE’s retirement plan.  "I couldn’t ask for any better treatment anywhere.”  His years of experience bring these words
of advice -- "You’re never too old to learn.  Always listen to the ideas of other people."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Presbyterian Study Center, Department of History, PO Box 849, Montreat, NC 28757.

[2] Jack Wilson, 6 Spruce Court, Pittsford, NY, 14534.

[3] Presbyterian Study Center, Department of History, PO Box 849, Montreat, NC, 28757.

[4] Jack Wilson, 6 Spruce Court, Pittsford, NY, 14534.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Certificate of Death, Mississippi State Department of Health #369068.

[9] Research in Genesee County, NY reveals that John Bezona came from Italy through France and Canada.  The Smiths came from
Massachusetts Through Canada.

[10] Genesee County information reveals Walter Shaw  was alive, remarried, and working as a carpenter in Batavia in 1926.

[11] “Jackson Lamp News”, 8 June 1979.