Wilson is a village in Niagara County, New York, United States. The population was 1,264 at the 2010 census. The village is said to be named after Luther Wilson. It is part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The Village of Wilson is within the Town of Wilson in the northern part of the county. It was incorporated on May 11, 1858. The village has a small boat harbor for Lake Ontario that includes several marinas and boat launching facilities. Wilson Harbor and its surrounding area boasts some of the best bass, trout, and salmon fishing in Western New York.
The Village of Wilson was incorporated in 1858. It was named for Luther Wilson, the son of Reuben Wilson, who was the founder of the town of Wilson. Luther Wilson's first claim to ingenuity may have occurred during the War of 1812 when he was only 14 years of age. According to early accounts, George Ash, who lived west of the Wilson settlement, warned the settlers that the British were coming, thus giving them time to gather their things and flee. About 25 head of cattle were rounded up, and Luther Wilson was given the responsibility of driving them eastward along the lake, some had cow bells around their necks, so in order to keep invaders from hearing them, he stuffed dry leaves in the bells. He was then able to drive the cattle five miles (8 km) beyond Van Horne's Mill where they remained undetected. After the British burned down the mill and retreated, Luther drove the cattle back to Wilson. When Luther reached maturity, he became the business genius of the family, with an untiring energy and spirit, he started most of the public improvements in town.
In 1827, he started the hamlet of Wilson, NY by laying out a single tier of lots along the north side of Young Street from Lake Street to the Creek. In 1829, a tavern was added to his father's store and post office at the west end of Young Street which was often visited by the early settlers and soldiers from Old Fort Niagara. In 1834, Luther and his father built the cobblestone "Ontario House" on the southwest corner of Young and Lake streets, and up to 1894 (when it was destroyed by fire), it was considered one of Wilson's oldest and best known hostelries. On December 28, 1835, Luther was elected one of the trustees of the first Methodist-Episcopal Society in the town of Wilson at a meeting held to incorporate it. In 1838, a new frame church was built at the corner of Lake and High streets on land acquired from Andrew Brown. Up to 1837, Luther helped his father as a merchant and miller, and in that same year, enlarged the grist mill by adding steam power and two more run of stones. In 1844-45, Luther built an attractive cobblestone home on the site of the first log school-house built in the village in 1820. The beautiful historic home today is the "Wilson House." It was during this year that Luther was elected to a term in the state assembly.
In 1846, Luther Wilson established the harbor and obtained permission from the Secretary of War to build two piers into the lake at the mouth of creek. For the next 20 years, at his own expense, he dredged the channel by the use of horsepower, and continued to make improvements until 1867 when the Wilson Harbor Company was incorporated. Other improvements included a large store house where he began buying and shipping grain and fruit. He also built a new shipyard where he built the schooner, Reuben F. Wilson, which he named for his son. That was the start of a new industry in Wilson. Up to 1875, about 20 two-and-three-masted schooners were built at the harbor by itinerant contractors. Luther was also responsible for having Congress declare Wilson a Port of Entry in 1848 and Abram Vosburgh was named the first collector.
The village of Wilson was incorporated May 11, 1858 by an act of the state legislature. At the time, it included within its borders and a population of 715 persons. Luther was elected to serve as the first president of the Board of Directors. When the R.W. & O. Railroad came through Wilson in 1875, it was surveyed through the center of Wilson's former cemetery which was located directly east of present depot-museum. Luther donated of land near creek for a new cemetery. When his remains, among others were removed from the burial site, they were placed in the new "Greenwood Cemetery." Luther was interested in the military, and for a number of years served as a captain of the Wilson Artillery Company of the 66th regiment, New York State Militia.
He was associated with the work of the Methodist-Episcopal church in Wilson, but also gave land on which the first frame Presbyterian Church, first Baptist Church and North Ridge Methodist-Episcopal churches were built. Luther Wilson was said to be loved and respected by all. He died in Wilson in 1890 at the age of 92. He was interred in the cemetery that he started - Greenwood.
In the American Civil War, a Wilson native, Ira S. Pettit, enlisted for the Union Army. He died in 1864 in the Andersonville Prison of scurvy. His personal diary was given to his father after his death and eventually published.