Thursday, January 1, 2009

Uncle Gus Obituaries

Uncle Gus Wilson's Obituaries
(The above is a partial copy of the obituary found in the Dallas Morning News, below is a transcription of the complete obituary.)
Dallas Morning News, October 2, 1935, page 1
Log Cabin Farmer Who Gave Friends Fortune Dies at 91
Uncle Gus Wilson, Collin County Pioneer, Nearly Penniless at His Death Special to the News. McKinney, Texas, Oct. 1
A. M. (Uncle Gus) Wilson, 91, a farmer, who lived in a log cabin six miles northwest of McKinney but who gave away more than $750,000 to deserving Collin Countians, will be buried Wednesday in the little family cemetery plot which marks almost the last of his one-time vast land holdings.
Wilson, who had lived in the same house on the same tract of land since he moved to Collin County with his parents in 1849, died Monday night. His funeral--which he planned more than ten years ago, with his coffin and tombstone paid for--will be conducted by Elder R. C. Horn of the Christian Church, an octogenarian himself and a lifelong friend of the aged philanthropist.
The pioneer, who never married, made it a habit to buy automobiles and farms for anyone who caught his fancy with a kind or industrious act. Landholders returning from the field might find the deed or mortgage to their property hidden under the dinner plate; a newly-married couple might discover a fully-equipped new car in the garage of their new home.
To one boy, he gave $1,000 in stock because he did not look up from his cotton-hoeing job when Wilson passed.
His philanthropy was not confined to individuals. Time and again he would underwrite the salaries of teachers to keep schools from closing. He literally paid for many churches, irrespective of denomination.
Wilson, a native of Arkansas, (**note by clm-should be Tennessee) was taken to Collin County by his parents when he was 5. They built a log cabin which, with occasional remodeling and additions, served as his life-long home.
At times almost a recluse, in recent years the early settler had given Mr. and Mrs. Cliff Robinson his last farm on which his home is situated, on the provision that he might live with them for the rest of his life. He died virtually penniless, compared with his early wealth, which was made largely from real estate.
For years Wilson's only companion was his dog. When he animal died he erected a tombstone in its memory. Wilson, though he never dressed up, habitually retaining his man-of-the-soil clothing, was a world traveler and it was his boast he never missed a world's fair except the Chicago Century of Progress in 1933, when his enfeebled health forced him to remain at home.

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Obituary from the The Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Thursday, October 3, 1935;
McKinney Buries Man Who Gave Away Fortune to Deserving Poor
McKinney, Tex, Oct. 2.—AP—
Simply, Collin County buried its 91-year-old farmer-philanthropist today. In the coffin and under the tombstone he selected and paid for ten years ago rested A. M. (Uncle Gus) Wilson, distributor of an $800,000 fortune among deserving farm folk. Elder R. C. Horn, himself an octogenarian and a Christian minister for 60 years, said last rites for his old friend.
The same simplicity of Wilson’s life marked the funeral service. He was buried in the family plot, just a few paces from the log cabin in which he lived 86 years. The burial ground and home were remnants of a huge fortune, dissipated by philanthropic deeds. Uncle Gus erected churches, regardless of denomination; built schools and homes for teachers; underwrote teachers’ salaries when doors of the schoolhouse were threatened with closing because of lack of funds; gave youth a financial boost when the cause seemed worthy.
Natives recalled his many deeds of kindness. They remembered the day he walked along a lane, stopped to watch a farm boy hoeing cotton. The boy did not look up at Uncle Gus. He hoed down the row. Uncle Gus gave the lad $1000 in stocks because he worked—did not stop to talk. The wealthy landowner, who chose the dress of the farmer and lived the same life, held many mortgages, but it didn’t make much difference. A farm couple who toiled long each day to pay off a debt on their farm to Uncle Gus, lifted their supper plates one night and found the heavy balance marked “paid in full.”
He took a group of Boy Scouts on an extended trip across the continent; had new automobiles waiting in the garages of newly-married couples when they returned from honeymoons and gave rich farming land to men of the soil who struck him as being industrious and appreciative. Uncle Gus never missed a world’s fair until the Chicago century of progress. Ill health kept him away.
He was unmarried and lived alone with a faithful dog who died a few years ago. He buried the dog on his grounds and erected a handsome tombstone. He lies within a few paces of his dog.

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