Letter from the Daughter of Alonzo Wilson of Coon Rapids, Iowa

Wilda Wilson Davis was a first cousin to Clabe Wilson. Her father, Alonzo, was a brother of Clabe’s father, Daniel Ross Wilson. Daniel’s twin brother didn’t survive.


Keyes, California, Dec. 23, 1941

Dear Cousin [Wilda Wilson Davis to Rectha Wilson Kansgen, who was Clab Wilson’s sister],

Edna [Wilda’s sister] and I were in La Junta in ’20 or ’21 she taught there a year and we were in Cimarron one Sunday had no idea we had relatives there. . . .

You asked about the Wilsons. Well, I think we can proudly say Grandpa [Samuel] Wilson was Betsy Ross’s grandson, for [her] father’s name was Daniel Ross Wilson. I don’t suppose you remember Grandpa [Sam] or his sisters Aunt Betsy Ross (Wilson) Durlam. They lived near Glidden, Ia. Scotch, Irish descent.

Grandma [Emily] was Holland Dutch her name was Hyke, her father was a doctor, they both came from New York state and went back for a visit in the 80s – Grandpa & Grandma came to Iowa in 1854 from Joliet, Ill. when my father Lon Wilson (was born at Joliet) was 8 years old.

Grandpa [Sam Wilson] was a government agent to the Indians for some years and his headquarters was at Fort Omaha the city was just a village then. They crossed the river on the ice with water running to the hubs on one late winter with supplies from Marshalltown.

Uncle Dick Wilson learned to walk while they were on the reservation, he was born on Brushy Creek, their nearest white neighbors were 24 miles away at Panora, Iowa – I have heard my father & grandma tell some stirring tales to send prickles up your spine.

As Ever, Your Cousin Wilda

Leora Wilson with Wilda Wilson David, a cousin of Clabe Wilson’s. San Jose, California, March 18, 1969.
Their children were first cousins of Clabe Wilson, who was born in 1888.


I haven’t been able to find any relationship to Betsy Ross, even though the name Ross has been passed down through at least two branches of the family. How did this notion even get started?

I don’t think that Sam Wilson was an official Indian agent, but his background would certainly have made him useful to officials. Oh! Don’t you wish they’d written down some of those “stirring tales to send prickles up your spine”!

I believe that Alzono (Lon) Wilson’s land is now part of the Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, Iowa.

The Wilson burial plot is at Coon Rapids, Iowa, east side of the hilly cemetery, about halfway toward the north. The cemetery has many old Bur Oak trees. The Wilson farmland was just east of the cemetery.

Clabe Wilson used to ice skate up the river from Guthrie County to visit his widowed grandmother there.


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