General Louis Dicken Wilson

Louis Dicken Wilson (May 12, 1789-August 12,1847), was a son of William Wilson and wife Elizabeth Dicken, the owners of a good plantation south of Tar River in Edgecombe County . After receiving a modest education at the local Academy, Wilson went to the Town of Washington in 1807 and worked in a counting house while apparently reading law. He returned to Tarboro after a few years and qualified as a Notary Public on May 28, 1812, and as a Justice of the Peace on February 24, 1817.

He became an apprentice of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Concord Lodge, No. 58 on March 16, 1813, and a Master Mason on July 20. He served as Secretary December 21, 1813-December 29, 1814, and as Junior Warden December 23, 1817-November 23, 1819. He was elected Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge on December 19, 1818, and Junior Grand Warden on December 19, 1825. He became the fourteenth Grand Master of Masons in North Carolina on December 15, 1827, and was succeeded by Richard Dobbs Spaight on December 19, 1830 . His last recorded Masonic office was Grand Lecturer, December 15, 1833-December 27, 1837.

Wilson represented Edgecombe County in the General Assembly of North Carolina 1814-1819, collected the Tarboro taxes 1819-1829, and served as a State Senator in 1820 and from 1824 to 1832. He attended the Free Trade Convention at Philadelphia on September 30, 1827 , and on December 19 was elected Brigadier-General of the 5 th North Carolina Brigade, a post that he appears to have held as late as 1846. He was one of the two delegates from Edgecombe County to the famous Constitutional Convention of June 4-July 11, 1835, and later that year was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

In 1829, Wilson gave his first support to the infant public school movement, even advocating the education of free blacks. On January 4, 1831 ; he and Elder Joshua Lawrence were among the incorporators of the Hickory Grove Academy , and on September 30, he bought as his permanent home the handsome former residence of Congressman Thomas Blount. Erected in 1810, this building still ornaments the City of Tarboro . In 1838, he was elected a member of the Board of Trustees of The University of North Carolina, and in 1844, the State Senate placed him on its Committee of Education and also on the Literary Fund Committee.

Returning to the Senate in 1838, he represented Edgecombe County continuously until December 12, 1846 , when he requested a leave of absence in order to support the patriotic honor of North Carolina by his personal participation in the War with Mexico (he served as Speaker at the 1842-43 session). Wilson left Raleigh for the last time on January 1, 1847, and returned to his native county where he was on January 5 elected Captain of Company A, First Edgecombe Volunteer Regiment, which was the first to offer its services to Governor William A. Graham. The volunteers met the next day at Toisnot Depot (now the City of Wilson ) "to partake of a barbecue dinner and arrange plans prior to their departure."

Captain Wilson's Company arrived at Fort Johnson near Wilmington on January 8, for their mustering into the United States Army and a brief preparation before embarking from Smithville for Mexico in the schooner E.S. POWELL on February 22. He and several other officers had meanwhile returned to Tarboro to participate in a splendid dinner at Pender's Hotel on January 9, and the huge celebration on January 18, at which a beautiful silken banner provided by several patriotic ladies was received with an appropriate speech by Captain Wilson. It was not until March 6, that the Edgecombe County Companies A and E arrived at Brazos, from which they proceeded the next day to San Francisco on the Rio Grande .

On March 3, 1847 , President James K. Polk offered to Captain Wilson the post of Colonel of the 12 th Regiment of the United States Infantry, which the latter accepted at Washington City on April 9. It was expected that his command of 850 would leave Vera Cruz and proceed towards Mexico City on August 7, as the guard with a train of supplies for General Winfield Scott's Army; but Colonel Wilson had been stricken six days earlier with the dreaded yellow fever and died on August 12, 1847. The military funeral and burial were held the following day, but his leaden casket was shipped subsequently to Edgecombe County . An appropriate oration was pronounced at Tarboro on May 22, 1850 , upon the occasion of the laying of the cornerstone of the monument erected to his memory. Since November 1, 1904 , both his casket from the neglected rural graveyard and the monument from the old Court House lawn have remained united on the Tarboro Town Common.

Although Colonel Wilson never married and left no known descendants, he merits the remembrance and the appreciation of posterity, not only because of the numerous public services already recited, but also because of his then-immense bequest of $40,000 to Edgecombe County for the future benefit of its public poor people. It should be mentioned in passing that about $12,000 were properly utilized, $10,000 lost by unsound investments, and $18,000 enjoyed by certain officials during the period of Southern Reconstruction.

It is gratifying to remember that the Town of Wilson was incorporated and named in his memory on January 29, 1849 , followed by Wilson County on February 13, 1855 .

Hugh Buckner Johnston