Thomas Wilson was born January 14, 1886 in Amite County, Mississippi, the son of Joseph Turner Wilson and Mary McDaniel Wilson. His grandfather served in the Confederate Army in the War between the States. Tom went to school in Amite County, then studied Medicine for a time and was licensed to Practice in Tennessee in 1912. Meanwhile he attended the University of Tennessee School of Medicine and graduated in 1913 as an M.D. at age 27.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army on April 23, 1917 during World War I. Dr. Wilson served in some of the major campaigns, was wounded and decorated with the Wounded Chevron. He was honorably discharged on May 16, 1919 with the rank of Major.
Dr. Wilson had opened his practice in Wynne, Arkansas (Cross County) soon after his Army discharge. As an astute practitioner and diagnostician and “possessor of a warm and sympathetic understanding of his fellow man”* he became busy traveling throughout the backwoods of the county over rough roads delivering babies (2800 plus), suturing farm injuries late at night, comforting the sick, “a friend and confidant of hundred of men and women whose bodies he healed and problems he has helped to solve”**. He most often worked 60 hours a week.
On November 8, 1921, at the age of 35, he married Esther Patrick. She died in March 1931. In November of 1932 he married Elizabeth Barton. The couple had one daughter.
In 1937 he built a clinic, the first place considered to be a hospital in Wynne. As his practice grew too large for one person to handle, he invited a young physician, Dr. T. G. Price to join him. Later he forwarded the idea to build a community owned hospital to replace his clinic which was not adequate for the town.
As a hobby he chose agriculture. In 1924 he had set out an orchard on Crowley’s Ridge to grow apples, peaches and grapes. Dr. Wilson was a pioneer in developing orchards on the high topped ridge.
Dr. Wilson was a Presbyterian and elder in his church. He was a member of the Shrine, a founding member and charter member of the Rotary club. In 1946 he was chosen as Wynne’s “Most Useful Citizen”.
As an active member of the medical associations he was known around the state: the District Association, the State, the Southern, and the National Associations. He was vice president of the State Medical Association in 1951 – 1952. He was a member of the State Board of Health and was President for four years. In addition, Dr. Wilson was Division Surgeon for the Railway Company.
Dr. Wilson, “a civic leader and a beloved doctor”***, died on May 6, 1959 at the age of 72. He had practiced medicine for 45 years, most of the time in Wynne, Arkansas. He is buried at Cogbill Cemetery in Wynne, Arkansas.
*Robert S. Chowning, History of Cross County 1955 (Wynne: Wynne Progress, 1955), 79
Betty L. Battenfield