A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by staff and students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas.

1905 History of Crawford County Kansas


Henry Wilson, an extensive coal operator and farmer at Frontenac, Crawford county, has had a very prosperous and creditable career in this county for the past ten years. Success has come to Mr. Wilson as the reward of merit. He had an up-hill fight in his early days, with the struggle for a livelihood beginning when he was nine years old. But his work early and late in the coal mines laid the foundation, in the days before attaining manhood, for a life of usefulness and of substantial success in this great industry. He is honored for his self-achievements, for many years of steady and persistent climbing toward the goal of better things, and for a character and personal integrity that have been without blemish during all his years.

Mr. Wilson was born in Northumberland, England, in 1846, being a son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Wilson) Wilson, both natives of England, and the former was an English farmer, but died and left his family in dependent circumstances when the son Henry was an infant.

On that account the latter was compelled to become at a very early age a wage earner and take his place among the toilers of earth. He began working in the coal mines when he was nine years old and has been in the coal business ever since. While working in the English collieries during his boyhood he was compelled to go underground at three o'clock in the morning, and was not hoisted to the surface again until six in the evening. The miners of his early days and of that country had none of the comparative ease which surrounds the class at this time and in this progressive country, and during the winter season the workmen never saw daylight except on Sunday.

Mr. Wilson continued mining in his home land until he had gained a position of some responsibility and attained great ability in his work, and then, on May 11, 1879, arrived in the United States. He first went to Ohio, where for seven years he had charge of the coal mines of the Cleveland, Lorain and Wheeling Railroad. He left that position and came west in order to take charge of some mines of the Santa Fe Railroad in New Mexico, and he remained in that territory, with headquarters at Blossburg, from October, 1886, until July, 1893, when he was transferred to the Santa Fe mines at Frontenac, Crawford county, Kansas, which has since been his home. He remained in charge of the railroad's mines until November, 1897, at which time the Santa Fe coal department interests in Frontenac were turned over to the Mount Carmel Coal Company. He then accepted the position of superintendent of the mines of the Kansas and Texas Coal Company in Indian Territory, and was located there for eighteen months. He then returned to Frontenac and organized the La Belle Coal and Mining Company, with himself as president and a number of his old friends of the Santa Fe as stockholders. A shaft was sunk on a farm which he purchased in Baker township, one mile west of Frontenac, and this mine has been a success from the start, the output now being from one hundred and seventy-five to two hundred tons per day, and the pay roll including about fifty-five men. Mr. Wilson has since bought out the other stockholders, and the mine is now owned entirely by his family. He lives on the farm on which the mine is located, and carries on farming in addition to mining. There are eighty acres of land in the place, and it is situated in section 7.

Mr. Wilson was married in England in 1866 to Miss Sarah J. Arkle, and they have a family of ten children, as follows: Robert Morris, weighmaster at the mine; Ralph C., engineer at the mine; Henry, Jr., pit boss of the mine; Matthew, a conductor on the Santa Fe Railroad; George W., in the coal business in Indian Territory; James, in school; Mrs. Elizabeth Turner; Mrs. Annie Martin; Mrs. Sarah J. Hagerty; Mrs. Mary Hubert. The sons-in-law are all connected with the coal business in this district. Mr. Wilson is a stanch Republican, but with no ambition for connection with public affairs more than to perform his duties as a good citizen.