1856–1913

Introduction

Born: No­vem­ber 13, 1856, on a farm near South Whit­ley, In­di­a­na. Birth name: Ma­ry Jane Wil­son.

Died: Sep­tem­ber 3, 1913, at the home of her sis­ter Eli­za Ann (Mrs. Jon­a­than Ul­rey), South Whit­ley, In­di­a­na.

Buried: South Whit­ley Ce­me­te­ry, South Whit­ley, In­di­a­na.

portrait
1907 Christmas Card

Biography

Jennie was the daugh­ter of Ro­bert Wil­son and Mary Fran­ces Rus­sell. The 1870, 1880 and 1900 cen­sus­es show her fa­mi­ly in Cleve­land, In­di­a­na.

Jennie was af­flict­ed with a spin­al con­di­tion at age four, and spent her life in a wheel chair. She was bap­tized in 1881, be­ing car­ried on a chair to a tree shad­ed stream. She said of the ex­per­i­ence, It gave me much joy to thus con­fess my dear Sav­ior.

She nev­er at­tend­ed school, but was ed­u­cat­ed at home. Her first po­ems ap­peared in a lo­cal paper. Lat­er, through the in­flu­ence of Rev­er­end Ja­cob D. Cov­er­stone (1847–1930), she sent hymns to a pub­li­ca­tion in Day­ton, Ohio.

Her first hymn was All the Way; not know­ing it had been pub­lished, she was plea­sant­ly sur­prised when it was found in new song books bought for the Sun­day School in her neigh­bor­hood. She is said to have writ­ten over 3,000 texts, and was once called the Fan­ny Cro­sby of the West. To quote Hall:

Miss Wil­son shows no trace of in­val­id­ism in her lit­er­ary work. One of her poems en­ti­tled, A Me­mo­ry Pic­ture, is an ex­cep­tion. It re­fers to scen­e­ry near the old home, and al­ludes to mem­o­ries of the days when she could walk.

Even though wheel­chair bound, she en­joyed at­tend­ing Bi­ble con­fer­enc­es at near­by Wi­no­na Lake, In­di­a­na, and oth­er lo­ca­tions.

Sources

Lyrics