History of the Upper Ohio Valley
JAMES WILSON, president of the Bellaire Nail company, and one of the most
prominent and useful citizens of Bellaire, was born in Ireland, county Antrim,
in 1820. He is the son of John and Jane Wilson, the father was a farmer in
Ireland, following this occupation until his death, which occurred in 1860.
He was the father of ten children, seven of whom are still living, six of
them in Ireland. James received only a limited education before coming to
this country. He worked on a farm until his emigration to the United States
in 1841. He came direct to Belmont county, Ohio, making his home with
Alexander Branum, who resided near Bridgeport. During the seven years he
remained with Mr. Branum he learned the carpenter's trade. He continued
working at his trade for about twenty years, the greater portion of which
time was spent in Wheeling, W. Va. Upon the outbreak of the rebellion,
Mr. Wilson enlisted in Company D, First Virginia infantry, for three years,
or until the war should close. He was soon made a first lieutenant and
participated in the battles of Slaughter Mountain, the second battle of Bull
Run, and several other important engagements. He remained with the regiment
until 1863, when he resigned and returned home. After returning to Wheeling
he entered the employ of Joseph Bell & Co., who were in the foundry business,
he remained with them for four years, at the expiration of which time the
Bellaire Nail company was organized, with the following officers: B. R.
Cowan, president; D. J. Smith, secretary, and James Wilson, traveling agent.
Mr. Wilson held this position until 1887, when he was elected to the office
of president. The company when first started had but twenty-five machines. A
blast furnace was added and in 1884 a steel department was establiished, by
the erection of a steel plant. It is now one of the largest industries in the
Ohio valley, and its success is due in great part to the wise efforts of James
Wilson. Mr. Wilson changed his residence from Wheeling to Bellaire when he
became connected with the nail company, and has since resided there. In 1847
he was married to Miss Thoburn, a resident of Belmont county. One child is
the issue of this marriage, she is now the wife of Prof. Nelson, of Delaware,
Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are active members of the Methodist Episcopal
church. Mr. Wilson has always been prominently identified with politics,
having been one of the organizers of the republican party in the state of
West Virginia. He was a delegate to the convention which nominated
Abraham Lincoln for president of the United States.
Brant & Fuller, 1890; Vol. II, pages 614-615.