Peter McIn. Wilson

b. circa 1859, d. 21 March 1913
  • Peter McIn. Wilson was born circa 1859 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
  • Peter M. Wilson and Margaret Simpson appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1860 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Other members of the household included Peter McIn. Wilson, William Simpson Wilson and Robert Thomas Wilson.
  • He and William Simpson Wilson and Robert Thomas Wilson migrated with Peter M. Wilson and Margaret Simpson from Pittsburgh circa 1862 to Buffalo, Erie County, New York.
  • Peter M. Wilson and Margaret Simpson appeared in the New York state census of 1 June 1865 in Buffalo, New York. Other members of the household included Peter McIn. Wilson, William Simpson Wilson, Robert Thomas Wilson, Thomas Simpson Wilson and James L. Wilson.
  • Peter M. Wilson and Margaret Simpson, appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1870 in Buffalo, New York. Other members of the household included Peter McIn. Wilson, Thomas Simpson Wilson, James L. Wilson, Robert Thomas Wilson, William Simpson Wilson, Jean Craig Wilson and Agnes McIn. Wilson.
  • Peter M. Wilson and Margaret Simpson appeared in the New York state census of 1 June 1875 in Buffalo, New York. Other members of the household included Peter McIn. Wilson, William Simpson Wilson, Robert Thomas Wilson, Thomas Simpson Wilson, James L. Wilson, Jean Craig Wilson, Agnes McIn. Wilson, John Simpson Wilson, Christina S. Wilson and Jean Craig. Also in the household was James Simpson (age 23), who origins are as yet unknown.
  • Peter M. Wilson and Margaret Simpson appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1880 in Buffalo, Erie County, New York, at Delavan & Richmond Avenue and son James is also enumerated as an apprentice in the household of his cousin William H. Simpson in Cattaraugus County. Also enumerated in the household bere four men who apparently worked for the dairy farm. Other members of the household included Peter McIn. Wilson, John Simpson Wilson, Christina S. Wilson, Thomas Simpson Wilson, James L. Wilson, Jean Craig Wilson and Agnes McIn. Wilson.
  • He was a milk pedlar, according to the 1880 census.
  • He married Louisa Burfeind, daughter of Henry Burfeind and Julia Anna (?), on 4 June 1884 in Buffalo, New York.
  • The following appeared on 27 December 1886 in the Buffalo Courier: Peter M. Wilson, a Sixth precinct policeman, was arrested Sunday night while drunk and disorderly and was fined yesterday. Lieutenant Cable suspended him at once, and charges have been preferred against him before the board of police commissioners.
  • The following appeared on 6 August 1887 in The Buffalo Evening News: Local Notices. Milk From Healthy Feed. (From the Buffalo Sunday News, July 31, 1887) Peter Wilson's barns, at 715 Richmond avenue, are in the best condition of any visited. He has 53 cows and pastures there in a 40-acre field near the park. The cows were all in pasture. The stable is clean and ventilated with patent roof ventilators. Sewer connections are placed every four feet behind the cows. The stalls are clean and dry. This was the only barn found where brewery or distillery slops, corn starch or sugar meal is not fed. "I wouldn't feed one ounce of the stuff," said Mr. Wilson; my cows get finished middlings and cut hay, and are healthy and clean." The milk here is kept in a patent freezer. There was a big bin of the "finished," which is the trade name of the food, a dry meal one degree better than shorts.
  • The following appeared on 24 April 1890 in the Buffalo Courier: The following named men are on the sick and injured list in the Fire Department: . . . Peter M. Wilson, H. & L. 4; and Driver William Dickman, Engine 9..
  • The following appeared on 5 October 1890 in the Buffalo Courier: At the latest meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners, Fireman Peter M. Wilson of H. & L. No. 4, absent without leave since September 18, failing to appear before the board when ordered, was dismissed from service. . .
  • The following appeared on 27 October 1890 in The Buffalo Express: Peter M. Wilson, 31 years old, was arrested by Patrolman Graff of the Fifth Precinct on Saturday on a warrant sworn out by George L. Pratt, a broker in this city, who alleges that Wilson sold him a forged note for $300. 
         Wilson is also wanted for a number of similar forgeries which he committed here. At one time he was a member of the police force and attached to the Sixth Precinct, but latterly he has been a fireman connected with Engine No. 11 at Black Rock. It was while here he sold the last note and then, becoming alarmed, resigned from his position and jumped the town. He returned on Saturday night and Officer Graff found him near his home at Black Rock. He was taken to Police Headquarters and committed to jail to await his examination in the Police Court.
  • The following appeared in the Buffalo Courier: Peter M. Wilson, a member of the Buffalo Fire Department connected with Engine No. 11, was arrested Saturday night by Patrolman Graf f No. 5 Station on a charge of forgery in the second degree. It is alleged that last week Wilson forged a note for $300 and sold it to George H. Pratt, a broker; that he then jumped the town and stayed away until Saturday night, when he came back only to be arrested. Wilson was formerly a member of the Police Department connected with Precinct No. 6. He will have a hearing in Police Court this morning.
  • Peter's accuser, George L. Pratt, was in interesting fellow. Published in The Buffalo Express on 3 February 1916:
         The news that George L. Pratt, former pawnbroker and gambler, had become a convert at a Billy Sunday meeting and had gone into the revival work was received with much incredulity by his former associates last night. The general comment was that they were from Missouri.
         But it is a fact that Pratt is doing voluntary revival work around his home town of Fulton and that he is coming to Buffalo to tell his story to his old associates. The news was con??the Rev M. B. Howland of the Lafayette avenue Presbyterian church. Mr. Pratt is to address the Emerson Bible class and may speak at one of the church services.
         For more than twenty years George L. Pratt had a finger in almost every big gambling game that opened in Buffalo. He backed the ponies and at various times had some of the most expensively equipped faro, roulette and poker resort in the city.
         At one time he had practically all the handbook business that was worth while sewed up in a way that none dared to try to break into the game. In fact, many of the smaller fry were glad to turn their business over to him on a commission basis. Fred Newton, the former bank cashier, who returned to Buffalo after doing time at Auburn for stealing from the Fidelity Trust company, was his head bookkeeper. Newton died several years ago.
         Pratt's largest gambling house was on Washington street. He opened it during the winter preceding the Pan-American exposition with the avowed intention of getting established and reaping a harvest during the big fair.
         The place ran for several months, but when the then superintendent of police William N. Hull declared that no gambling would be allowed in Buffalo and forbade Pat Sheety? to open his big store here, Pratt's place was also compelled to close its doors. It never had paid well, it is said, and Pratt is said to have lose heavily on the venture.
         Another place in which Pratt was said to have been interested was closed up because of a row caused by a worthless young man of good family. The fellow went broke in the gambling house and pledged a diamond stud with Pratt for $300. The next day when he came around to redeem the jewel it is said Pratt wanted to charge him the regular pawnbroker rates for the loan.
         The young chap lifted a yell that was kept up long enough to cause the closing of the place.
         When the Cobalt silver strike was made, Pratt, always ready for a gamble on anything jumped into the field and was given credit for investing his money in the live ones. He bought heavily of Temiskaming before its sensational rise and unloaded at the top. He also took a flyer in the Oklahoma oil fields where he is said to have cleaned up handsomely.
         During these activities he left his pawnshop on Main street over the Gold Dollar saloon in charge of a clerk. He dealt principally in loans on diamonds. After his successes in the Cobalt and the oil fields he sold his pawnshop business and a short time later moved away from the city.
         Pratt alwasys was regarded as a "square" man among the gambling fraternity, but one who always wanted to take the inside or short end of the game. It is true, as he says in his addresses at revival meetings, that he has tried everything on the calendar. In addition to his other activities he took several whirls at the bucketshop business, the late John Allen being associated with him in several concerns that later went broke.
         At one time Pratt ran a bucketshop during the day, the horse game in the late afternoon and a faro game at night, it is said. He was well liked by the men who worked for him. He always wanted the most experienced men and paid them well.
         Pratt took some big chances in the horse game. He seldom refused a bet and his book became so well known that the big players at Toronto, Hamilton and other nearby cities frequently placed big commissions with him. There was one exception, however, and it cost him a lot of money to learn the lesson.
         A toronto horseman was racing his string at the winter tracks in California. HYe owned some good horses, but had the reputation of being a fixer and was a terror to the poolrooms.
         One day this man sent in a commission of $2,000 on one of his horses in the west. It was accepted. When the price came in, however, it showed the entry to be a 15-to-1 shot. This meant that Pratt stood to lose $30,000 if the horse won.
         It was in the last race and Pratt held his telegraph operator until nearly 2 o'clock to get the result. He was alone in the room with him when the call "They're off" came over the wire.
         The Toronto man's horse was off in front. At the quarter it led by a length. At the half the lead had been increased to what was considered a safe one. Into the stretch the good thing came with a big lead on the bunch. It looked for all the world like a shoo-in and one of the biggest killings of the year on the poolrooms and handbooks. But a rank outsider spilled the beans, nosing out the Toronto horse at the wire.
         The next day a notice was posted that read: "No more Blank's money from Toronto," and the edict stood until the room was closed.
  • And in the same edition: (Fulton, Feb. 2) The recent conversion of George L. Pratt of this city at the Billy Sunday meetings in the tabernacle at Syracuse, where he hit the trail, has been the talk of his old home town for several days.
         Mr. Pratt was born here 60 years ago, and lived here until 28 years ago, when he moved to Buffalo. In Buffalo Mr. Pratt was what might be called a gentleman sport. He says he played or backed every known gambling game but that there were plenty in Buffalo who knew him well and held him in high esteem. He returned to Fulton two years ago and became interested in the rebuilding of his old home town. Prominent among his undertakings was the building of a $125,000 opera house.
         Ten weeks ago he went to Syracuse to attend the Billy Sunday revival meetings. Mr. Pratt says he went out of curiosity, "to hear the faker," that he went in through the door, and could have come out through the keyhole, convicted, but not converted. He attended the Billy Sunday meetings later and was thoroughly converted and has since been working with other evangelists to win souls for Christ.  . . .  
         Mr. Pratt will speak in the Lafayette avenue Presbyterian Church, Buffalo, on February 13th and he is anxious to have all of his old-time friends attend the meeting and hear his message. This is the church of which his wife has long been an active member and for 25 years he has paid pew rent there, he says.
  • Julia Anna (?) appeared in the New York state census of 16 February 1892 in Buffalo, New York. Other members of the household included Peter McIn. Wilson, Adam Burfeind, Louisa Burfeind, Raymond Henry Wilson and Peter Mackntosh Wilson. Also in the household was Ida Burfeind (age 8), likely Adam's daughter.
  • He was a fireman, according to the 1892 census.
  • Likely he was enumerated in the 1905 New York state census as Peter Wilson, age 47, boarding as a day laborer in the household of stock farmer Herman Murray in the village of Canastota, Madison County.
  • Peter McIn. Wilson died on 21 March 1913 in Gasport, Niagara County, New York, in a gas explosion.
  • The following appeared on 21 March 1913 in The Auburn Citizen: (Lockport, March 21) Peter M. Wilson, 35 years old, of Gasport, an employe on the Barge Canal, was literally blown to pieces by a dynamite explosion at Gasport this morning. Wilson's pick struck a stick of dynamite lying in the bed of the canal. Others were struck by flying debris.
  • The following appeared on 23 March 1913 in the Buffalo Courier: The funeral of Peter M. Wilson, killed in a dynamite explosion at Gasport Friday, will be held from the residence of his sister, Mrs. J. H. Brauer, No. 541 Grant street, this afternoon at 2:30 oclock. Mr. Wilson is survived by his sons, Ray and Peter M. Wilson.
  • The following appeared on 27 October 1917 in the Buffalo Courier: [Died] In Buffalo, October 26, 1917, Margaret Wilson (nee Simpson), wife of the late Peter Wilson, aged 79 years, mother of Robert, Thomas, James and John Wilson, Mrs. J. H. Brauer, Mrs. M. Nichols and the late William, Peter and Jean Craig Wilson. Funeral from the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. H. Brauer, No. 781 Tonawanda street, Sunday, October 28, at 2:30 and from Ontario Presbyterian church at 3 o’clock. Friends are invited. Interment at Forest Lawn.
  • Last Edited: 26 Jan 2017

Family: Louisa Burfeind b. April 1865, d. 10 January 1954