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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Wilson, Hugh

by William S. Powell, 1996

16 Mar. 1794–8 Mar. 1868

See also: Wilson, Lewis Feuilleteau

Hugh Wilson, missionary, was born in the Bethany community of Iredell County, the son of the Reverend Lewis Feuilleteau and Margaret Hall Wilson. His father was a medical doctor. Hugh was graduated from the College of New Jersey, Princeton, in 1819 and received the customary M.A. degree in 1822. Between those two dates he attended the Princeton Theological Seminary and in 1822 was licensed by the New Brunswick Presbytery of the Presbyterian church.

Ordained by the Concord Presbytery in his home community in North Carolina on 14 Sept. 1822, he served as a missionary to the Choctaw Indians of Georgia during the years 1823–26 and to the Chickasaw Indians in Mississippi and Alabama during 1826–32. He was pastor of Portersville and Mount Carmel churches in Tennessee from 1832 to 1837. In the summer of 1837 he toured the Republic of Texas, where the next year he became a missionary. Moving to San Augustine in East Texas, he organized Bethel Presbyterian Church in June 1838; he then went to Washington County in south-central Texas and established a church at Mount Prospect in February 1839, remaining there until 1850.

Beginning in October 1838 Wilson taught for two years and served on the board of Independence Female Academy. When the Texas congress met in Washington-on-the Brazos in 1844, he was chaplain of the lower house. Moving again, he organized in May 1852 a church at String Prairie in Burleson (now Lee) County, which he served for the rest of his life.

Called "the father of Texas Presbyterianism," Wilson was moderator of the Synod of Texas in 1857 and received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Austin College, which he had helped found. In Princeton, N.J., on 12 June 1822, he married Ethalinda Hall. After her death in 1856, he married Mrs. Elizabeth Loughridge Reid in 1858. Wilson died in Burleson County and was buried near Tanglewood, survived by four daughters.


General Catalogue of Princeton University (1908).

William S. Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (1936).

Eugene C. Scott, Ministerial Directory of the Presbyterian Church, U.S., 1861–1941 (1942).

Walter Prescott Webb, ed., The Handbook of Texas, vol. 2 (1952).

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