My grandmother, Leora (Goff) Wilson had ten children–Delbert, Donald, Doris, Darlene, Dale, Danny, Junior, Jack, Jean, and Marilyn. Seven of them grew up together. Four married. Three had families of their own.
Leora had two sets of twins. She said that she’d had two miscarriages, both of them before twins were born–almost like making up for those losses.
Delbert Wilson (1915-2000)
Born Guthrie County, Iowa, most of Delbert’s schooling was in Dexter, with graduation in 1933. He and Donald joined the Navy in 1934, serving on the USS Chicago. After four years, he hoped to find a job in California but it didn’t work out. He was farming with his dad and brothers in Iowa when WWII broke out. He rejoined the Navy and served on a tanker, the USS Maumee–hauling fuel across the U-boat infested Atlantic to North Africa, catching fire on the way back after being caught in a typhoon. He married Evelyn and moved to Iowa after the war. They had three children. He did electrical work in Perry and Des Moines before taking a job with Lawrence Livermore Labs in California.
Donald Wilson (1916-1998)
Also born in Guthrie County, Donald graduated also from Dexter in 1933. He joined the Navy with Delbert in 1934, serving aboard the Chicago, but reenlisted. After an electrical engineering school, he joined the crew of the new aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, which survived the Battle of the Coral Sea but not the Battle of Midway. Donald received a citation for being part of the attempt to salvage the ship near Midway. After marrying Rose and more schooling, he joined the crew of another carrier, the USS Hancock, and was in nearly every major naval battle in the Pacific the last several months of the war. After the war, he did commercial fishing in Washington State, and eventually worked for the Department of Transportation there. He and Rose had no children. Donald lived in Washington until 1998.
Doris Wilson (1918-2015)
Born in Guthrie County in 1918 on her uncles’ popcorn farm–while they were serving in France in WWI. All of her schooling was at Dexter, with graduation in 1936. She did waitressing until marrying Warren, an Iowa farmer who had joined the Army Air Force and become a pilot. He was stationed in Texas, then Arizona. Doris returned to Iowa when he got orders for combat, The end of the war came before his crew was scheduled to leave and Warren came back to Iowa to farm. He and Doris had two daughters.
Leora Wilson was very ill with influenza in late 1919 and early 1920. According to John M. Barry, in The Great Influenza Pandemic, this may have caused her first miscarriage
Darlene Wilson (1921-still living)
Twins Dale and Darlene were born in Stuart, Iowa. Two months later their father became the town night watchman after the one before died after being shot during a bank robbery attempt. All of Darlene’s schooling was at Dexter, with graduation in 1939. She stayed with families needing extra help until her marriage to Sam in 1941. They farmed in Madison County, Iowa, and had four sons. Darlene is still living. Age 97,
Dale Wilson (1921-probably 1943)
Born in Stuart, Dale also graduated from Dexter High School in 1939, He farmed with his father and brothers near Minburn until WWII broke out. He joined the Army Air Force, becoming a pilot. He was the co-pilot on a B-25 Mitchell which was shot down near Wewak, New Guinea, November 27, 1943. Age 22. In early 1944, a Japanese shortwave broadcast named him as a POW, but that was never confirmed. His parents were notified after the war, in January 1946, that he had been officially declared dead. Only God knows where his remains lie.
Danny Wilson (1923-1945)
Born in Stuart two years later, Danny had most of his schooling at Dexter. After moving with the family to a Minburn farm in 1939, he graduated from Washington Township School in 1941. He also joined the Army Air Force and became a pilot. Stationed in Italy, his P-38 Lightning was lost in Austria February 19, 1945. At the end of the war, he and Dale were still officially listed as MIA. The same week that his parents got the news that Dale had been declared dead, they got a telegram notifying them that Danny’s grave had been located in Austria. His status was changed to Killed in Action. Age 21. He is now buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery in France.
Junior Wilson (1925-1945)
Claiborne Junior Wilson was born SE of Dexter. Most of his schooling was at Dexter until 1939. He was a 1942 graduate of Washington Township School. Junior also joined the Army Air Force and became a pilot, awaiting orders for overseas when the day the second atomic bomb was dropped, his parents received a telegram–where they were living just south of Perry, Iowa–that his P-40 had exploded in formation training. In Texas. Age 20.
Leora Wilson’s second miscarriage occurred in 1927. Again, her next pregnancy was twins.
Jack and Jean Wilson (1929-1929)
Twins Jack and Jean were born in Dexter in January 1929. All nine Wilson children came town with whooping cough when they were only a few weeks old. The baby twins died two days apart.
Marilyn Wilson 1931-1931)
Baby Marilyn had a bad heart when she was born in Dexter in 1931. She lived only a couple of weeks.
Ten children. Seven grew up together. Four married. Three had families of their own.