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ROBERT ERNEST WILSON

 

(1867 – 1954)

 

Posey county today mourned the passing of one of the most revered and useful citizens - Dr. Robert Ernest Wilson, Mt. Vernon, 87 years old last May 11, dean of the Posey county medical profession and scion of a family closely identified with the community's progress for almost a century and a half.

 

Death came to the retired doctor at 5:30 a.m. today in Welborn Memorial Baptist Hospital in Evansville.

 

Cardio-vascular - renal disease complicated by pneumonia was the cause of death.

 

Although his acute illness was of but a few days duration and resulted in his entrance of the Evansville hospital Tuesday of this week his health had deteriorated rapidly in recent months.

 

A spinal injury, too, had slowed his steps, but his keen, alert mind, his interest in all that transpired about him and in the world at-large and his brilliant memory that bridges more than four score years of local history remain undimmed until the very end.  The body is at the Short-Niehaus Funeral Home and will remain there through the funeral service set for 2 p.m. Monday in the Short-Niehaus chapel with Rev. J. Kenneth Forbes, minister of First Methodist Church, as the officiating clergyman.  Mt. Vernon lodge of Elks, which had bestowed upon the deceased a Life membership, will conduct a memorial service in the funeral chapel, beginning at noon Saturday.  Burial will be in Old Beech (Bethany) cemetery in East Lynn township alongside the graves of his wife who died in 1946, his daughter, Miriam Wilson Gough, who died in 1949 and a son Albert Wilson, who passed away in 1902 as a small boy.  In the same cemetery rest the remains of Dr. Wilson's grandfather and grandmother, Robert and Elizabeth Wilson, member of the Wilson family who came to Posey county from Pennsylvania in 1815 - a year before Indiana became a state.  Robert Wilson was born in 1792 and Elizabeth Wilson in 1794.

 

In accordance with Dr. Wilson's wishes the family requests that contributions to the Cancer Fund in memory of his daughter, Mrs. Gough, take the place of floral offerings.

 

Surviving are three grandchildren, Ann Gough, Indianapolis, and Robert Wilson Gough and David Pittenger Gough, Mt. Vernon; the son in law, Robert H. Gough, business teacher of Evansville Bosse High school; a newphew, William A. Wilson, Chicago, and two nieces, Miss Helen Elliott, New Harmony and Mrs. Willis Hickam, Spencer, Ind.  The son in law who has been serving in an official capacity at the annual convention of the National Business Teachers Association in Chicago, arrived in Mt. Vernon early today after airline flight from Chicago.

 

Dr. Wilson, the grandchildren and the grandchildren's father continued to make their home at 628 Walnut street following the death of Mrs. Gough.  Dr. Wilson, his wife, the former Elsie Newsom of New Harmony, and the daughter moved to Mt. Vernon about 30 years ago from Lynn township which had been the central locale of Dr. Wilson's successful medical practice.

 

The Wilson homestead on present State Road 69 north of Smith schoolhouse was the birthplace of the late deceased and was owned by him at the time of his passing, although he spent a major part of his married life at Rest-A-While located farther south on Road 69 at its junction with the Springfield Highway.

 

He was the son of Alexander Wilson and Margaret Stallings Wilson, representatives of two Posey county's most prominent pioneer families.  Of the six sons and a daughter born to Alexander and Margaret Stallings Wilson, only three reached maturity and all three are now deceased - Lawrence Wilson, Mrs. May Wilson Elliott, wife of Elmer E. Elliott, and Dr. Wilson.

 

Dr. Wilson studied pharmacy in Indiana University and his first college degree was in pharmacy.  For a short while he was a pharmacist in the former Thrall & Mumford Drug Store in New Harmony.  Upon reaching a decision to enter the medical profession he enrolled in Miami Medical College in Cincinnati and received his M. D. degree in 1896.  He was president of his class.  He returned to New Harmony to begin his medical practice and a year following his graduation from Miami was married.  His practice in New Harmony was brief prior to his location in Lynn township where he practiced until his retirement and residence in Mt. Vernon.  Too few doctors have been accorded his privilege of witnessing first-hand the marvelous strides of medical science from the saddle horse and horse and buggy days, when he literally fought his way over unimproved roads to the bedside of patients, to the modern era.

 

In addition to his successful professional career, Dr. Wilson directed his talent and energy into other fields.  He was a director for many years of People's Bank and Trust Co., disposing of his bank stock and resigning from his official position only recently; a stockholder in the former Mt. Vernon-owned -and operated Mt. Vernon Milling Co., and the owner of a citrus farm in California.

 

He was an ardent follower of sports and athletics and a participant of no mean ability.  He was one of the oldest, if not the oldest I-Man of Indiana University, winning his letter as first baseman on the university baseball team in 1887.  He never lost his interest in the diamond sport and when football and basketball were added to the sports program of high schools and colleges and universities he became an ardent follower of them, also. Until his advanced years made it impossible for him to actively participate he was a widely known devotee of field sports and he never lost his interest in a sharp hunting dog, a good gun or a harness racing horse.

 

A genial personality, a ready wit and mastery of conversation made him a popular figure in social circles.

 

Death of his wife and then his daughter in the declining years of his life dealt him severe blows but he carried on gallantly, masking a heavy heart with a never-failing interest in life in all its ramifications and a flow of anecdotes that were innumerable in their application to almost every situation that confronted him.  He and other member of the Wilson family were the donors of the popular Wilson Community Center in Lynn township and following the death of his daughter he provided the well-equipped and much-used kitchen of the center as a memorial to her.

 

During World War II, he was a member of the Posey County Rationing Board.  In both Wars I and II he was prominent in Red Cross and Posey County Medical Society contributions to the war effort.

 

In addition to being a Life member of the Mt. Vernon lodge of Elks, he was a Participating member of the Elks National Foundation and a daily, appreciated visitor at the Elks Home, where he was a favorite with you and ole members.

 

Dr Wilson also was a member of Beulah lodge, No. 578 Free and Accepted Masons, Mt. Vernon, and the now extinct Mt. Vernon lodge of Knights of Pythias.

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Originally submitted by Betty Sellers