Jack Wilson


During my trip home to Montana in April, dad, uncle Sande, and I took a trip down to Idaho Falls to visit dad and Sande's second cousin Lois. It was a great visit and time to hear more about our family history.

Sande, Lois (with her new puppy, Mikey), and dad

The Metzner family (my great great grandfather Jakob is in the center with the beard, his wife Maria is seated on his left and my great grandmother Anna is standing behind Jakob to the right) was part of the early Mormon movement in Europe and moved from Switzerland to Idaho Falls in the late 1800's.

The family first lived in this home that had been arranged for them by the Morman community in Idaho Falls.

Subsequently, Jakob and his son Jake built this home for the family.

The house and barn are still here today (the house has been added onto).

My great grandmother Anna Metzner

Anna married my great grandfather John Arthur (Jack) Wilson in the early 1900's.

Bill and Jack Wilson

My great grandfather Jack and his brother Bill were bootleggers in Idaho Falls from 1915 - 1926. According to Lois, they would drive up to Canada to purchase the goods and bring it back to sell, mostly to the town's elite businessmen. They also made moonshine in the basement of my great grandfather's and great grandmother's home. A trap door to the basement was located underneath the kitchen sink and everytime someone would come to the door there would be a mad dash to close and cover up the trap.

From the Idaho Falls Register Post, December 23, 1918

Always on the run from the law, Lois recalled one story in which Jack was driving back from Canada with a car full of liquor. He always kept a shotgun wrapped up in a blanket in the back window and during this run the authorities were on his tail shooting at the car. According to Jack, one shot came through the back window and the bullet hit his concealed gun.

However, the law finally caught up with them in 1926 when the deputy sherrif showed up at Jack's home to arrest them. Jack had caught wind of this plan beforehand and packed up the family to head out of town. Bill, however, stayed behind and when the deputy arrived Bill shot and killed him on the front lawn. Amazingly, Bill only received a 2-year sentence in the state penitentary for the crime.

This is the house that Jack and Bill built and where the deputy sherrif was shot

Bill is on the far left, William Clinton is in the middle, Jack is on the far right, and Barlow is to the left of William Clinton

The family's legitimate business was the Star Theater that Jack and Bill owned with their father, my great, great grandfather, William Clinton Wilson, and their brother Barlow.

Jack Wilson (far left)

In the Idaho Falls Register Post (not sure what date)

The Star apparently went through a number of renovations, probably done by Jack and Bill since the two also designed and built homes and were plasterers by trade.

In the forties, Jack and Bill worked as plasterers in Coalinga, California

Jack is standing on the far right above the Plasterers sign and Bill is next to him

Jack on far right, Bill in the center

My great grandfather was also a banjo player. My father believes that Jack and Anna met at a dance that Jack's band was playing at. This photograph was taken in the teens of Jack and the band he played with.

Jack Wilson, suitcase and banjo in hand

Jack Wilson sitting on his trailor.

Lois, Phil, and Jack

Jack made a number of recordings with Lois, who played fiddle and mandolin, and her father Phil, who played guitar. My father had these digitally transfered and I'll put them on the site soon.

Lois playing mandolin during our visit

Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson outside of his "shack" that he lived in by the river in Idaho Falls in the 1950's

Jack Wilson

My father and great grandfather

More about the family soon.