Bio: Rev. J. E. Wilson

Rev. James Emmett Wilson, served: 1860 – 1861

Was, to my youthful imagination, the model Methodist preacher. Nearly six feet tall, with large, well proportioned frame; with graceful movement and commanding presence, with a dark, flashing eye and beaming face; with a rich, muscular voice, trained to express all shades of feeling; with a logical mind, an orthodox faith, a vivid imagination, fine descriptive powers and a fair culture, he stood before us in the pulpit, a living embodiment of fervid Irish eloquence, to which his gentle Irish birth and blood gave him legitimate inheritance.

Bro. Wilson came to the Conference from the Methodist Protestant church, in which he had held a prominent position as a preacher and Secretary of their Conference. He was a man of genial spirit, affable manners and commanding eloquence.

My acquaintance began with his two years at Spring St., continued with meeting as pastor of the 1st. Methodist Church in St. Louis, and ended with his two years at Summerfield. In the meantime he had filled term at Christ Church, Pittsburg, one in Chicago, I think at Clark St., and afterward in Cleveland and other prominent churches, and died in the fullness of vigor sometime before 1870. To be prompt no the minute was a characteristic. Once, while here, the time arrived for prayer meeting, and there was no one present, but himself and the darky sexton, he began to read the hymn. During the first were his wife and I opened the door, and she exclaimed “Oh,don’t Mr. Wilson”., but he kept right on and finished without remark.

Without recalling his exact Words, I well remember the effect of one passage in a sermon on the Phillipian Jailer. He spoke of the bound and bleeding Paul & Silas fast in the stocks in the inner prison, thrilling the thick air with their triumphant songs, -and then pictured the midnight blackness cleft by the forked flash and the solemn silence broken by the crashing thunder and the walls rocking with the quaking earth, and the affrighted jailer springing forth trembling and desperate; and as he put the crash in his tone and the shaking in his gestures, and the final shock in the stamp of his foot, we could fairly feel the bursting doors, and see, as in the flash, the jailer horror struck, till calmed by the ‘Do thyself no harm’, of the unflinching Paul.

So vivid were his descriptive powers.-

– Biography by Ralph Lane Lawrence, 1952