Gallery #4
Town of Wilson

Wilson Motor Company

Among the numerous businesses held under the umbrella of Lee Wilson & Company was this Ford dealership. Prior Wilson's incorporation, the company owned all the businesses in town and all the citizens of the town, except the Postmaster and the Frisco Railroad agent, were employees. This Tudor-style structure was the Ford dealership.

The Elizabeth Wilson Clinic

At the time of this photograph, the medical staff included seven doctors and a number of nurses. Each head of household in Wilson paid $1.25 per month for standard medical services. Wilson company employees enjoyed access to health care at a time when most citizens of the Delta had little, at best.

Home of Jim Crain

One of the most important and dynamic figures in the history of Lee Wilson & Company was Jim Crain. Upon the death of "Boss" Lee, Crain and Wilson, Jr. ran the company until R.E.L. Wilson, III assumed control in the early 1950s. Crain's home was just outside of Wilson.

One of the larger homes available for rent in Wilson

At the time of the photograph, this house rented for $35 per month, including water and lawn care. Prior to 1945, the city was operated as part of the Wilson company. They kept a separate set of records on the operation of the town, just as they did all aspects of the corporation. Running the town, however, increasingly became a financial burden to the company. The basic city services provided by the company caused an annual loss of seventy-five thousand dollars by 1945. The company sold all the residences in town to their employees, each house costing on average about four thousand dollars. Once the workers owned their homes and incorporation followed, the city enjoyed access to tax dollars. This fresh source of income reduced the operating loss to zero, placing the town on a solid financial foundation.

A smaller home in Wilson

Homes like the one pictured here rented for $25 a month in the early 1930s. The housing for Wilson's employees was, at the time, among the best housing for agricultural laborers in the nation.

The Wilson Tavern

R.E.L. Wilson, Jr., graduated from Yale in 1912 and came back to the Delta to work. He and his wife had visited England and admired the Tudor style of architecture. George Mahan designed a Tudor style home which was completed in 1925. Thereafter all new public buildings in Wilson were built in the Tudor style. The Wilsons even retro-fit the facades of older buildings to meet the standards of Tudor design. The Tavern pictured here was torn down and rebuilt to fit the new design.

The Wilson Department Store

The town of Wilson contained almost necessity of life. Here residents of Wilson shop in the furniture department of the main Wilson department store. The low prices and large quantities of consumer goods available in Wilson did much to improve the standard of living. Department stores, even one as small as the one in Wilson, reflected the culture of the new America. Department stores constantly assessed people's hopes for a better life and changed to meet their dreams. As a social force, it sustained the shared experience of shopping, producing a new form of communal life--giving women of diverse backgrounds and classes a common experience.

The company store

Lee Wilson & Company owned and operated numerous enterprises in neighboring Mississippi County towns. This image shows the Idaho Grocery of Bassett, Arkansas, one of the Wilson stores.


Another Lee Wilson & Company store; this one in Armorel, Arkansas. One of the small towns founded by "Boss Lee," Wilson named the town by putting together abbreviations for Arkansas (AR), Missouri (MO), and that of his own names (REL).

To ensure the survival of the company during difficult times for agricultural, the company invested in a wide variety of other enterprises, such as this meat packing plant.

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Gallery of Images
Life in Wilson County Schools Agriculture Town of Wilson Tenant Farmers R.E.L. Wilson, III Directory of Images