Daniel Wilson was born in New England, a sixth generation American.
Following the early death of his father, much of his family moved to the Niagara Region of New York around 1808, and his uncle Ebeneezer became Daniel’s guardian.
War with the British Empire broke out in 1812, and by 1813 the Niagara region was protected mainly with local militia troops and a few regulars as General William Harrison’s troops, who had previously been protecting the area, had been transferred to the east to try to capture Montreal. Americans around Buffalo began feeling very nervous, and in response Daniel’s uncle Ira Wilson formed a militia company about 40 miles to the east. Daniel, only 17 years of age, enlisted and joined the War of 1812.
As the British attacked Buffalo and Black Rock, the militia was totally routed, and towns were burned to the ground. Daniel related “…that he was through that severe and disastrous engagement doing his duty to the utmost of his ability.”
July was a busy month with the Battle of Chippewa, new training, and a new commanding general, Winfield Scott, the person for whom the village of Winfield and our township is named. The men were tired, but the bloodiest, deadliest battle yet was just ahead. As Daniel was getting ready to sleep on July 24, he was put on guard duty and was not relieved until two hours after sunrise. Returning to camp, one mile away from his guard station, he was just getting ready to eat breakfast when the alarm was sounded. The militia retreated four to five miles up the mountain, avoiding the road, and running through the woods pursued by the enemy. They continued moving, covering more miles on the hot July day, losing all their provisions. By night the men had reached Schlosser, too exhausted to eat even if they had food; “…many of us found ourselves nearly melted…” That Battle of Lundy’s Lane, was a draw with both sides claiming victory.
By the time Daniel returned home he was ill and his health continued to decline; he was out of his head, deprived of reason for almost two more weeks. Because of his exertions, he would never again be a healthy able-bodied man. However, by September, emaciated and enfeebled, he returned to duty at Ft. Erie, working to the best of his ability until the end of his enlistment. Today, we would realize that he had suffered severe heatstroke.
Around 1834 many of the Wilsons moved again as a group to Illinois, settling in what was then called Wheatland, in Kane County. By then Daniel had married Betsey, fathered four children, and continued to be regularly disabled. The only hope for help for a wounded veteran lay in getting Congress to pass a resolution approving a pension for a destitute veteran who had been wounded in duty and made invalid (disabled) for active military service. It was extremely difficult to get such a resolution passed and Daniel’s first application was rejected. The Wilson family sprang into action to help Daniel’s cause: Cousin Isaac, who had named his new settlement Batavia, used his connections from his service in the government in New York; Cousin Ira wrote an affidavit; Uncle Anson Root, the family and militia physician who had moved with them to Illinois, wrote letters; Dr. Daniel D. Waite, who later became the “mainstay” of the Chicago Medical Society, wrote letters; Dr. Thompson Mead, Jr., son of General Thomas Mead from the War of 1812, also part of the New York to Illinois migration, wrote letters; Moulton Farnham, family friend, talked to some of those still living about the incidents of those days, and wrote an affidavit.
Finally, on March 3, 1849, the pension was passed, and Daniel received $8 a month until the end of his life. Daniel died in 1863 as his sons were serving in the Civil War. His wife Betsey lived 10 more years before joining him in Oakwood Cemetery.