Wilson was born 1789 in Fairfield Co., Conn. and in 1807, married
Fairfield Co., Conn. born (1790), Mabel Barnes. By 1817 they
were the parents of Jennette, Harriett, and Hiram. Sometime in
the early summer of 1818, Eli, his wife, and their three children
arrived in what was to become Shelby. They had left their home
in Connecticut not long after Stephen Marvin's group had departed.
While there were other families living in the surrounding area,
these two families composed the very first "Shelby"
settlers. The Henry Whitneys arrived in 1819 and James
four years later.
purchased (c 1820) the NW1/4 (160 acres) of section 8 of what
was to become Sharon Township. This 1/4 section encompassed what
can be defined in today's terms as the area bounded on the north
by Smiley Avenue, on the west by West Street, on the south by
the W.W. Skiles Football Stadium (north end), and the east boundary
would be about 100 feet east of High School Avenue. Not bad for
Marvin built a log cabin on what is now North Gamble Street,
probably near the current "Marvin" house (#57) . Eli
Wilson built a log cabin for his family on a site that was close
to the present location of the Dollar General Store on South
Wilson, realizing the firm stand the new settlers had made in
the tiny settlement, built a sawmill on the banks of the Black
Fork, south of what is now West Main Street. And in time, the
log cabins were partly displaced by small frame houses and buildings,
for now a supply of sawed boards could be had.
the (Gamble's) grist mill, Wilson's sawmill was crude and slow.
But it did saw timber into planks and boards. In order to run
the saw through a log, a nimble-footed man stood on a large rag
wheel, resting his weight upon his hands, as he stamped his feet
on strong pegs that encircled the perimeter of the wheel on one
side, thus, making the wheel spin around, which in turn ran the
carriage holding the log through for the cutting. It was crude
and slow and tedious. And the workers heaped ridicule upon the
slow-moving, man operated saw by saying, 'when the saw goes up
today and comes down tomorrow, we'll get the sawing done'".*
sold his property (c. 1833) on the west side of Shelby and purchased
land on the east side and built a frame house (the Wilson Mansion)
located at what is now 26 Mansfield Avenue. It originally faced
west so that if he could persuade a railroad company to
tracks through Shelby and could convince them that his proposed
location would be the best, he could then watch the passing trains
from his front door. After donating land to the railroad company
for the construction of the line through Shelby, the big event
on June of 1846 when what was to be the Sandusky,
Mansfield and Newark (later the Baltimore & Ohio, and
now the Ashland) Railroad became a reality for Shelby. Great
festivities with fireworks and various euphoric displays were
centered around Eli Wilson's home as the whole town celebrated
this monumental event.
died in June of 1869 and wife Mabel had passed away a bit earlier
in December of 1868. Both were originally buried in the Wilson/May Cemetery
whose land he and fellow settler Leonard May had donated to the
township c. 1833. Both Eli and Mabel's stones were later moved
to the new Oakland Cemetery.