The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Government & Politics
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
William B. Wilson of Blossburg, First Secretary of Labor
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Wellsboro Gazette, July 27, 1988
State, home town honor [William B.] Wilson
By Betty Frazier
Blossburg - More often than we should, we take being American too much for granted and we tend to drift along in an ambivalent state.
Every now and then patriotism needs a shot of adrenalin, a time to regroup one’s thoughts and dwell on the positive things rather than the many negative ones which are constantly paraded before us.
Every community needs its shining moment and for Blossburg, Sunday was it. It was a day to be shared by all Tioga County residents as well.
It was a day of civic pride, one to be celebrated by a generation who, for the most part, never personally knew the native son who brought such honor to this almost isolated part of Pennsylvania.
That man was, of course, William B. Wilson - the first U.S. Secretary of Labor appointed 75 years ago by President Woodrow Wilson [no relation].
Driving into Blossburg on my way to the William B. Wilson American Legion Post 572 on South Williamson Road, I was pleased to see many American flags, in itself a tribute to Mr. Wilson.
The Post home is the former residence of William B. Wilson and has been remodeled so that it little resembles the original home place.
A joyous mood was encountered within the home by the many who crowded the building to witness the presentation of the Governor Robert B. Casey’s proclamation honoring Mr. Wilson.
The proclamation was sent to the U.S. Department of Labor on this Diamond Anniversary.
The presentation was made to John Holleman, post commander by another Blossburg native, A. John Warnecki, who was the guest speaker.
Mr. Warnecki, a member of the U.S. Foreign Service Office and a 44-year member of the post said, “I feel privileged to be here on such an occasion, my first time in all the years I have been a member.”
His career has taken him to many parts of the world, but with retirement he hopes to have time to spend in Blossburg.
Mr. Warnecki said his father was associated with Mr. Wilson politically when there were only five Democrats in Blossburg, and the two men shared many of the hardships facing their political party at that time.
He said, “I remember coming with my father to [this house] when Mr. Wilson lived here and listening to the conversation between these two men. I always felt I was in the presence of someone special and history has proven me right.”
Mr. Warnecki added, “We speak about human rights today, equal employment opportunities, ERA for women, voting rights and the rights of minorities throughout the nation. Well, Mr. Wilson spent most of his life pounding away at issues which are referred to today as human rights.
“As I listened to speeches at the Democratic convention with, undoubtedly, the  same topics to be a part of the Republican convention, I was reminded that these same aspirations echo the views and achievements of William B. Wilson, 80 years ago.”
The proclamation stated that “the first Secretary of Labor, Wilson served with distinction and dedication in seeking to improve the condition of wage  earners and promoting harmonious relations between employer and employee. During World War I, he took charge of mobilizing America’s labor resources.”
Mr. Warnecki added that last week there was “news from Congress which would have pleased Mr. Wilson, who also had the responsibility following WWI to help with the adjustment of America’s millions of military personnel to civilian life.”
He said Congress approved the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs effective Jan. 1, 1989. The former Veterans Administration will be incorporated into the new department of Veterans Affairs and will become the 14th cabinet post within the office of the President.
Approximately 15 descendents of Mr. Wilson were guests at Sunday’s ceremonies. One was granddaughter, Margaret [Peg] Jerles of Lock Haven. She was born in the Wilson homestead and remembers her grandfather well.
“I loved his sense of humor,” she said as she proudly displayed a red, white and blue ribboned badge complete with inscription, name and picture of William B. Wilson.
Mrs. Sally Ward wore two hats for the occasion. As Blossburg Secretary-Treasurer, she was responsible for coordinating the even. At Sr. Vice Commander of the WBW American Legion Post, she acted as toastmaster.
She introduced Mayor John Kuster, who welcomed the family and admirers of Mr. Wilson, and State Rep. Edgar Carlson.
Also, she presented borough council members Harold Wilson and Susan Unganst. James Bogaczyk, council president, was unable to be present, but welcomed the group through a letter read by Mrs. Ward.
Many American Legion and Auxiliary members and officials from other posts and districts were present.
Mr. Warnecki, who traveled from his home in Great Falls, Va., has had extensive diplomatic service and is presently a member of the state department’s board of examiners.
His most recent overseas assignment was with the American Embassy in Uruguay. He is leaving next week on assignment in Europe. He also is the recipient of the department’s Meritorious Honor Award.
Few communities can boast of such a man as William B. Wilson. We seem to have a tendency to make heroes out of the gunfighters and bank robbers of a century past.
However, with integrity and dedication there is no need for anyone to have to stand in the shadow of honorable men such as Mr. Wilson. With virtues such as his, everyone has the opportunity to make his own shadow, one to be remembered honorably.
The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 18 JAN 2009
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice