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As each reader begins the adventure of meeting George Follett Wilson, it will be helpful to understand something of his background. He was born in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, in 1805. His parents, Reuben and Sabrah Follett Wilson, probably married there between 1795 and 1800, though no marriage bond has been found. Reuben Wilson was a carpenter and joiner, a vital trade in a time when everything from houses and barns to bowls and spoons were made of wood by hand. By 1819 the number of children in the household had grown to eleven. Judging from the accomplishments of the children of whom we have record, they were encouraged to acquire a good education, they were expected to be industrious, and they were risk-takers. They began learning trades when in their early teens and then each of them moved on to professional lives. The Wilson family belonged to the Congregational Church and the children were schooled in its tenets of staunch individualism and simplicity. Throughout his life, George F. Wilson adhered to an inflexibly high moral code and often throughout his Journal admonished his sons to set their own standards of behavior beyond reproach.
Pioneering was a tradition in his family. When he was a lad of six or seven years, his family left their home in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and were among the early settlers of Ontario County, later Yates County, New York. It was and remains one of the most enchanting areas of all our land. It lies in the heart of the Finger Lakes Country, a land of deep blue lakes and tall, tall pines. Describing them in the Journal, Dr. Wilson says that the towering pines were so tall that it "took two looks to see the top."
The Yates County Historian recently reported that he found only one land record involving Reuben Wilson. He purchased 60 acres of lot 8 in the town of Milo on 27 November 1815. In Yates County for twenty years, Reuben and Sabrah Wilson raised their family. Most of the children had been born in Massachusetts, but Louis, Laura, and possibly one other were born in New York. Reuben Wilson sold his land 1 June 1835. It was time to move on.
The family arrived in Coldwater, Michigan, on 15 October 1835. Reuben Wilson entered 160 acres of government land later in 1835 and the family made permanent settlement in Ovid Township just outside of Coldwater.