The business of dressmaking.

Mrs. Wilson 1872-1891

Mrs. John T. Wilson operated her dressmaking business from her home at 201 Wacouta Street in St. Paul, Minnesota, from about 1872 to 1891. An August 1881 newspaper account mentioned her dressmaking business of several years and her travels to Chicago to obtain materials; it also suggested that hers was a successful business with property valued at $8,000 to $10,000. The article mentioned that Mrs. Wilson had filed for divorce in April of 1881: this may explain why in later years the city directory listed her as Mrs. Caroline L. Wilson. The newspaper described an arrest initiated by her husband when he found her living with T. M. Barry, a traveling agent for a Chicago liquor distributor. Mr. Wilson gave an account of misconduct, accusing Mr. Barry of having taken advantage of his hospitality and vowing to continue his actions in court.

The two garments made by Mrs. Wilson—a cuirass bodice without sleeves and a wool coat--are dated about 1872 and were worn by Fanny Lion Goodman (Mrs. Daniel Goodman). Both are utilitarian black, probably dating to the early years of Mrs. Goodman’s marriage. Fanny Lion was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1855. She moved to Minnesota with her parents the following year. In 1872 she married Daniel Goodman of Philadelphia. By 1880 she was a widow, keeping house in St. Paul with three young children (Frances, Norman, and Laura) between the ages of three and six. The family lived at 14 Pearl Street and employed one servant. Mrs. Goodman’s daughter, Frances Heilbron, donated these garments to MNHS in 1925. She identified Mrs. Wilson as their maker.

For Mr. Wilson's account: "Marital Difficulties" Column 2: See: Chronicling America, St. Paul Daily Globe, August 12, 1881, Image 1