Wilson Recollections from Charles Anson Great Grand Son
Charles Anson Recalls: To my knowledge, Jim never worked in the big Woods. He worked for the railroad. The legend is that he worked for the Pennsylvania RR, Chicago and West Michigan and the New York Central RR. At the time Mary E. and Eldridge Vincent Anson were married, he was living in Bitley, MI, and he was the section Foreman there. Eldridge was working as part of Jim's crew when he and Mary E. were married, I believe that was July 4th, 1900. At least that is what Mary E. told me. Eldridge was injured while working.
My Dad always said that Jim, didn't like working a short section, and always asked to be sent out with the larger work crews, called Extra Gangs, and which made all the major repairs to the Road Beds. These Gangs operated usually during the spring summer and fall, and Jim would be sent as the foreman for these gangs. This meant of course that he was gone most of the year, and that Grandma Betty (Rosetta), kept the home fire's burning. In the winter, Jim would return to his home assignment, which was Bitley, or where ever he was permanently assigned.
James Wilson with “Extra Gang” Saginaw Yards. James is on the far right.
He left the Chicago and West Michigan, which became the Pere Marquette RR in the mid teens, and went to work for the New York Central RR. The story behind his leaving the PM was something like this.
"The PM wanted stone put under the rails, on Copsey Hill, near Bitely, Jim asked that the work train drop the stone, at the top of the hill, but the Conductor decided it would be easier for them to dump the stone at the bottom of the hill, and that's where they dumped it. This made Jim angry, and he refused to move the stone, because to do so meant that he would have to shovel the stone onto a lorry and push it up the hill to distribute it, where it was needed. There was a stalemate for a couple of years, and the stone stayed right where it was dropped.
Finally the Road Master told Jim that he had to move the stone, or they would have to fire him. Apparently Jim, told them to go ahead and fire him, he did not plan to move the stone. So he was fired." He then went to work for the New York Central, and was finally laid off about 1930, because he could not pass a physical. He couldn't see.
In those days, there was no such thing as retirement with a pension. He had what ever he had been able to save, which wasn't much. They came to live with Clarence and Mary Whiting. While they were living with Clarence and Mary, they both died. My recollection was that they both passed away within a short time of each other. I can just barely remember their funerals, This would have been about 1930-33, I'm sure your Grandfather (Anson Vernon Whiting), would have a better recollection of that than I would. My memory says that Jim was 73 years old when he died.
They were living in Kent County at the time of their deaths.
That’s about all I know about them, both Eldridge V. and Clarence worked for him, but I believe at different times.
I remember going with the folks to both Jim's and Rosetta’s Funeral's, I was about five years old, so what I'm giving you is that recollection, and what little I've heard over the years from various sources. I do know that when he was let out at the New York central, he came to live with Grandpa and Grandma Whiting (Clarence D. and Mary Whiting). My Dad (Hildrith Anson) said that Grandpa (Clarence), paid for both their funeral's, and that they were buried in Alpine Cemetery. As I recall it Grandpa Wilson died first, and Grandma Wilson not too long after that. A man did not get a pension in those days, so Jim would have had very little to live on. My impression is that they were destitute. I suspect that a marker could not be afforded at that time.
Grandpa Whiting, I believe, buried both the Wilson's, and they are in the Alpine Cemetery, near where Clarence, Mark, Mary and Anson, and Huck are buried. I don't believe that either Jim's or Rosetta’s graves are marked. I also believe that Jim and Betty (Rosetta) died at home. Dad said that Jim died in the outdoor privy, and they had to take the door off, to get him out. I believe they were in Alpine Township, Kent County. Grandpa Whiting rented a home from, Doc Vinton.