Harry W. Wilson, Sr.,
Section F. Lot 2
A prominent feature of Oakland Cemetery is the towering granite obelisk at the center of the Wilson Family Circle. Harry W. Wilson, Sr., planned the Wilson Circle as a resting place for him and his family. A successful businessman and pioneer in the natural gas industry, Harry Wilson, Sr., was a member of the board of directors of Oakland Cemetery.
Born on August 28, 1854, Harry W. Wilson was the son of prominent Indiana businessman Andrew Wilkins Wilson and his wife Anna G. Dick. After graduating from Princeton, he returned to Indiana, where he worked in his father’s store. The three-story A. W. Wilson store building remains an important architectural component of Philadelphia Street. Today, it is part of the Coney Island restaurant complex. It is recognized by the circular “1880” crest.
In 1883, Harry Wilson married Margaret “Maggie” Patton of Kittanning and had two children. Maggie Wilson died in 1889. Wilson and his father were both interested in the gas industry. They developed a gas pipeline extending from Saltsburg to Indiana. In August 1889, they placed an open gas burner outside the store and illuminated the main commercial street at night. Harry Wilson continued working in gas exploration. In 1897, he and Joseph W. Clements—also a resident of Oakland Cemetery–formed a partnership in the Indiana County Gas Company. Wilson and Clements expanded their energy interests, engaging in oil exploration in Oklahoma and Texas.
Harry Wilson, Sr. was active in Indiana business circles, serving as president of the Farmer’s Bank and Trust and as a trustee of Indiana Normal School. He chaired the Indiana County Democratic Party and served on the state Democratic Committee. In 1919, he married Agnes Lytle (1870-1939.) Harry Wilson, Sr., died in Baltimore on 20 January 1937. His son, Harry W. “Lad” Wilson, a long-time resident of Pasadena, California, was instrumental in developing the Wilson Circle. He died in Henderson, Texas, on April 17, 1946 and was buried in Oakland Cemetery among other members of his family.