It is perhaps fitting, with the recent elections to Presque Isle City Council, that we speak about the longest serving City Council member in Presque Isle’s history.
Allen Crane Tibbetts Wilson was born in Bangor, Maine on March 23, 1866. He was one of five children and, after marriage, had five of his own.
Wilson left school in his second year of high school in Bangor taking a job in a Bangor lumber mill in 1872. Two years later, he headed west to seek fame and fortune. After returning to Maine, “A.C.T.” worked for the Bangor Creamery and then later for the Maine Creamery Company. In 1900, he moved to Fort Fairfield as the manager of Maine Creamery’s branch there.
In the spring of his second year here in Aroostook County, he purchased a farm on the Parkhurst Siding Road. Wilson was proud to be a merchant, farmer, and a member of the Presque Isle Congregational Church.
Wilson first became involved in “politics” here in Presque Isle in 1912 when he was elected as a member of the board of selectmen. In 1933, he was elected to Presque Isle’s first council under the town manager form of government.
He served in that capacity until 1940, when he was elected to the first city council. Wilson served as chairman of the council for more than 20 years.
He also served in the Maine State House of Representatives from 1919 to 1922, and in the Maine state Senate. In addition, Wilson served on two different Governor’s Executive Councils and on the State Old Age Pension Commission. He was also a member of the Green Ridge Grange, the Trinity Lodge of the Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen.
In the early 1900s, tuberculosis was one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Wilson and a few others took up the cause to obtain the funding to build and open a treatment facility here in Presque Isle. As a result, the Northern Maine Sanatorium was finally established in 1919 with $20,000 from the state Legislature for the building and $15,000 for treatment and care.
The first building, known as the Powers Building, accommodated 20 patients, and was built on the Reach Road overlooking the Aroostook River. Six more buildings were later added through his efforts and those of Dr. Bennett, Harry R. Pipes, Clarence Powers, Dr. Sherman Boone and others.
The Wilson Building was the women’s building named after him. It opened on June 29, 1922, and was considered one of the finest of its kind in the state and was even considered unsurpassed in New England.
Wilson retired in 1938. A testimonial dinner was given in his honor on Jan. 21, 1941, at the Northeastland Hotel. According to The Star-Herald, the dinner was attended by 150 “citizens who assembled to pay tribute.” Many telegrams and letters were received for the event from prominent political leaders “testifying to the good character and noteworthy record of the well-known Republican leader. All his shrewd Yankee common sense and all the fighting instincts of the hard school in which he was educated were dedicated to the service of the community and the county that were to him his life”.
Wilson passed away in November 1952. He is interred in the Fairmount Cemetery here in Presque Isle.
Today, many proud direct A.C.T. Wilson descendants can still be found living in the Presque Isle area.
Kimberly R. Smith is the secretary/treasurer of the Presque Isle Historical Society.