Ruth’s Tree ~ Or Bulls-eye Wilson, Fact Or Fiction

When you get to know Bulls-eye, you have to fall in love with him. If nothing else, he brought a lot of people together for family history and DNA for genealogy. John Bulls-eye Wilson, 1812 – 1870.

First off, the y-DNA. The Wilson line has a couple of confirmed matching males and gives me a bet of 90% and higher that our J N E Wilson’s R1b WAM haplgoroup is spot on for Bulls-eye. We could dig him up and check. The family plot has been in St James Cemetery, Toronto, Canada, since grandmother Elizabeth Knox was buried there in 1856.

In  the 1860s, his son John Wilson Jr, was in New Orleans and was conscripted into the Confederate army. He is described as having red hair.

When second son William Knox Wilson died in 1913, his obit in the Times Picayune told so much about the family. And his picture looked so much like the photos of our great grandfather Thomas D Wilson — Bulls-eye’s third son, at least who lived.

Bulls-eye John, aka Sugar John, was so much more complicated than this, but all that information came much later. We knew from Aunt Ruth that John Wilson, maybe known as Sugar John or Bulls-eye John (both turned out to be correct and were used at one time or another), had been written about somewhere, sometime. But no one knew where or had a copy.

But once John Ross Robertson’s book called “Landmarks of Toronto” was scanned and became searchable, then I found him.

1 Copy of wilson landmarks V1 444 auto

Through library archives, newspapers, vital and church records, the life of John Wilson became as open as if he had lived in our own lifetimes.

enhanced copy use bullseyes church street building

Copy of wilson landmarks 444

The gazillion clues in this story about Sugar John led to more newspaper research and many more stories – more being added for posterity all the time. One of the clues is about his acquiring the building from Wilson Clindinning, and there is some limited DNA to thrill our genealogical souls.

The candies – the bulls-eye candies were more like throat lozenges, cough drops and had a touch of alcohol in the center bulls-eye. There is a story of a lady in Pennsylvania who made some kind of bulls-eye candy famous – but the information is limited.

St James Cathedral and Holy Trinity Church in downtown Muddy York (now Toronto) have the records of the christenings of all John and Elizabeth’s children. That is Elizabeth Knox, 1st wife of John Wilson. After Elizabeth died and was buried in St Jame,s he married Miss Mary Susan Hill and they had five more children.

This second family was a surprise to those who thought the line was gone with only girls to carry the Bulls-eye/Sugar John Wilson DNA forward, but the discovery of his marriage to Mary Susan and his 2nd family provided more Wilson descendants than we ever could have dreamed of.

But our Ruth – Ruth Eileen Wilson — had already preserved enough of the story for us to go looking and find it.

Our Ruth is laid to rest, her self scattered under her favorite tree in Presqu’ile Park!


Ruth’s Tree








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