An American Family History

James Wilson


"[L]iberty must at all hazards be supported.
We have a right to it, derived from our Maker.
But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us,
at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."

-- John Adams, 1765


The first European settlements in Maryland were made in 1634 when English settlers created a permanent colony.
Maryland was established with religious freedom for Catholics. The colonial economy was based on tobacco cultivated by Africans who had been enslaved.

Amwell Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania was formed on July 1, 1781. 

James Wilson was born about 1751 in Maryland. His parents were Robert Wilson and Mary Douglas.

A James Wilson enlisted on July 13, 1776 and served in Captain Leonard Deakins Company, Colonel John Murdock's Maryland regiment of the Flying Camp.

James married Anne Johnson on October 16, 1777 in the Sugarloaf Hundred, Montgomery County, Maryland.

At first they lived in Frederick County, Maryland, then in 1778 they moved to Washington County, Pennsylvania.

In 1784 he bought 200 acres in Canton Township which is now Franklin Township from Reason Virgin.

James and Anne's children included:
Douglas Wilson (1778-1846, married Jeanette Ossie Hinds),
Elizabeth M. Wilson McMurry (1782),
Robert Wilson (1785, married Elizabeth Lacock),
Jane Wilson Ross (1786),
Margaret Wilson Sweeney (1788),
Euphene Wilson Ely (1788, married Jonas Ely),
Agnes Wilson (1790),
Mary Wilson Braddock, and
Sarah Wilson.

In 1787 he was paid 7 shillings 6 pence for lathe timber and 5 shillings for drawing wood and new boards for the first court house in Washington County. The

first court-house was burned in the winter of 1790/91, and then for a short time the courts were held temporarily at the house [tavern] of James Wilson, on one of the opposite corners of Beau Street [northwest corner of Main and Beau Streets]. (from The courts of justice, bench and bar of Washington County, Pennsylvania)

James signed his will on May 9, 1827 in Washington County.

Ann died on February 23, 1827. She is buried with her son Robert in the Vankirk Cemetery in Amwell Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

At the time of the 1830 census, James Wilson was still in Canton (now Franklin) Township. The household consisted of a man between 70 and 79, 3 women between 30 and 39, a girl between 10 and 14, and a boy between 5 and 9.

The Flying Camp was an American military formation used during the second half of 1776. It was a mobile, strategic reserve of 10,000 men. The men recruited for the Flying Camp were militiamen from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.

Children of Robert Wilson and Mary Douglas

The Battle of White Plains was on October 28, 1776 near White Plains, New York. The Americans retreated from New York City and the British landed troops in Westchester County to cut them off. The Americans attempted to establish a position in White Plains, but the British drove them from a hill near the village.
An early American tavern (or ordinary) was an important meeting place and they were strictly supervised. Innkeepers were respectable members of the community. Taverns offered food and drink. An inn also offered accommodation.


American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.
Washington County, Pennsylvania, was created from Westmoreland and Fayette Counties in 1781. Originally it was a part of Virginia. Washington County split into Allegheny, Greene and Beaver Counties.

In the name of God Amen. I James Wilson of Canton township in the county of Washington...
In the first place-
To my son Robert Wilson I give and devise all that plantation and tract of land in Canton township aforesaid and on which I now reside, subject however to the payment of the following legacies, and the said land is hereby made chargeable with the payment thereof in the manner hereinafter mentioned.
2nd to my son Douglass Wilson I give and bequeath the sum of two hundred dollars, to be paid to him by my son Robert, within two years after my decease.
3rd to my stepson Josias Johnson I give and bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars, to be paid by my son Robert, in the manner and at the time last above mentioned.
4th to my daughter Mary Braddock I give and bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars, payable in like manner.
5th to my daughter Elizabeth McMurry I give and bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars, to be paid in like manner.
6th to my daughter Euphene Ely I give and bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars, payable in the same manner.
7th to the children of my daughter Jane Ross deceased, I give & bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars, payable in like manner.
8th to my daughter Margaret Sweeny I give and bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars, payable in the same manner.
9th to my daughters Agness and Sarah I give and bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars each, payable in like manner, and also all the household and kitchen furniture, beds and bedding, horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs that remain on hand at the time of my death. And so long as they or either of them shall remain single and unmarried, my son Robert is to provide them a comfortable dwelling house on the mansion place, and pasture for a cow, so long as they may require it.
10th to my son Robert I give and bequeath all the residue of my estate of whatsoever kind for the payment of my just debts and funeral expenses.
Lastly-I nominate and appoint my sons Douglass and Robert to be executors of this my last will and testament.
In witness whereof I the said James Wilson have hereunto set my hand and seal the 9th day of May in the year of our lord 1827.
Wilson  seal                                

Signed, sealed, published & declared by the above named James Wilson as and for his last will and testament, in our presence, who at his request & in his presence, have subscribed our names as witnesses.
Alex Sweeney
John Mauhil

Know all men by these presents that I Douglass Wilson of Stark county Ohio, one of the executors named in the last will and testament of James Wilson late of Canton township in the county of Washington Pennsylvania deceased, has renounced released and for ever quit claimed and by these presence do renounce release and forever quit claimed all my right and title to the said executorship and to the administration of the goods and chattels which were of the said deceased and desire that the same may be committed to my brother Robert Wilson who was named a co-executor along with me.
In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal the 22 day of October 182[7].
Douglass Wilson

Personal property can be called personalty (personality), goods, chattels, articles, or movable property. It includes both animate or inanimate property.

Frederick County, Maryland was created in 1748 from parts of Prince George's and Baltimore Counties. In 1776 it was divided into Washington, Montgomery and, Frederick Counties. In 1837 parts of Frederick and Baltimore Counties formed Carroll County.


from History of Greene County, Pennsylvania

Jonas Ely, farmer and stock-grower, Waynesburg, Penn., was born in Washington County, Penn., August 28, 1823. He is a son of Jonas and Euphen (Wilson) Ely, who were of German and Scotch extraction. His mother was also a native of Washington County.

His father, who was a farmer and stock-grower, was born in Berks County, Penn., and came to Greene County in 1843. He settled near Waynesburg on the farm now owned by J. A. J. Buchanan, Esq. Mr. Ely reared a family seven children, of whom Jonas is the sixth.

He received a common school education in Washington County, where he remained on the farm with his parents until their death. His father died in 1863 and his mother in 1860. Mr. Ely has been successful as a farmer, and is the owner of 384 acres of land. In 1870 he bought his present farm, to which he moved in 1875. The following year he erected one of the finest houses in Franklin Township, where he now resides. Mr. Ely was united in marriage in Greene County, in 1845, with Miss Elizabeth, daughter of William and Margaret (Milligan) Hill, who were of English and Irish origin. Mrs. Ely’s Father was born in Franklin Township in 1798. To Mr. and Mrs. Ely have been born three children—William and Jonas, farmers; and Belle, who is the wife of Jonathan Funk, Esq., of Waynesburg, Penn. Their mother is a consistent member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Mr. Ely takes great interest in the schools of the county, and has served seventeen years as school director. He has also been for several years secretary of the Green County Agricultural Society. In politics he is a Republican. Jonas, his second son, was born October 15, 1848, and is a successful farmer. In 1878 he married Miss Alice, daughter of Madison Saunders, of Waynesburg, Penn.


from History of Stark County: With an Outline Sketch of Ohio edited by William Henry Perri

Douglas Wilson, farmer; P. O. Waynesburgh; is a son of Douglas Wilson, who was born near Frederick, Md, in 1778; his parents emigrated to Washington Co., Pa., when he was only three years of age; they remained in that locality for the remainder of their lives.

Douglas, Sr., was married in that county to Osie Hinds, and emigrated to Stark Co., in 1811, settling, March 20th of that year, in the southern portion of Osnaburg Tp., where they continued until their deaths. They were for many years members of the Methodist Church, and exemplary members of society; his death was in 1846, and his wife’s in 1851; thirteen children were in this family
James, died in 1828 upon the old farm;
Benjamin living in Osnaburg Tp.;
Nancy, deceased;
Robert, living in Mapleton;
Isaac, died in Wood Co., 0.;
Osie Elson, wife of John Elson, of Sandy Tp.;
Phebe Yohe, living in Osnaburg Tp.;
Sarah Kinney, deceased;
John, living in Indiana;
and two infants deceased. . .


Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watauga Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2023
An American Family History is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.