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William Wilkinson Collection M/A 1998.34.01

William Wilkinson Collection M/A 1998.34.01

Creator:Wilkinson, William, 1848-1925
Title: William Wilkinson Collection
Quantity: 1.0 boxes
Repository: James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library


Reverend William Wilkinson was born in Huddersfield, England, on April 3, 1848, and died December 7, 1925. The son of a Yorkshire woolen waver, he apprenticed as a weaver at age 10, and followed the trade for twenty years while studying religion in the evening. In 1870 his lifelong interest in religion led him to write and publish on the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland; these attracted attention, and encouraged by the response, Wilkinson studied to become an Episcopal minister.

On the advice of physicians, he left for the "open spaces" of America, arriving in 1882, and worked under Bishop Whipple, famous missionary to the Native Americans in the Dakotas and in Minnesota. He served as a missionary among lumbermen of northern Minnesota, and served for a time as rector of St. Andrew's Church (James and 19th Avenue) in Minneapolis.

He also served as an Episcopal clergyman in Minneapolis, and at one point served as chaplain of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Wilkinson left Minnesota in 1902 for New York and preached for twenty-five years over the noon hour at the corner of Broad and Wall streets, hoping to reach the "wicked" millionaires, which earned him the title "Bishop of Wall Street." (Wilkinson also earned one of the highest salaries in the nation as a mission worker in New York.) He traveled 750 miles through Scotland and England to gauge the effects of the declaration of the Great War on the working classes. Reverend Wilkinson married three times, the third taking place in 1924 when he was 76 years old to the widow Pauline MacNab. (Wilkinson's first wife had died in 1908, and his second in 1921.) Rev. Wilkinson also delivered the invocation at the Democratic convention in 1924, the day that John W. Davis was nominated as a "dark horse" candidate for President, and often returned to Minneapolis to give popular speeches. He also wrote a book, Memorials of the Minnesota Forest Fires (1894).

He died in his home in New York, where his body lay in state and was viewed by thousands, then was brought back to Minneapolis and buried at Lakewood Cemetery. He was succeeded at the corner of Broad and Wall streets by the Rev. Edwin A. Corbett. Wilkinson left a wife, Pauline Travilla MacNab, two daughters, Sarah H. Wilkinson, principal of the Julia Ward Howe School, and Mrs. J. M. Herchmer, and two sons, Norman E. Wilkinson and Gilbert C. Wilkinson, all of Minneapolis.

Description of the Collection

Service bulletins, invitations, book reviews, photographs, correspondence, personal essays, and newspaper clippings, 1848-1925.

Related Material

See also: Special Collections - photo M2844F.

Subject Headings


Episcopal Preaching (Episcopal Church)--Minnesota--Minneapolis.
Open-air preaching.
Preaching to non-church-affiliated people--New York--New York City--Wall Street.

Table of Contents

Newspaper clippings (from unidentified papers) containing biographical information 1848-1925 -- Box 1, Folder 1
Scrapbook containing biographical information: service bulletins, invitations, book reviews, photographs, correspondence, personal essays, and newspaper clippings from the St. Paul Daily Globe, the Minneapolis Times, the New York Times, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the San Francisco Bulletin, the Pittsburgh Dispatch, and other newspapers 1891-1925 -- Box 1

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