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Carlinville Public Library

Granny Wilson's Garden

Granny Wilson’s Garden (Carlinville Plaza and Wilson Street)

Granny Wilson’s garden was created as a result of a reconfiguration and upgrade of the parking area at the Carlinville Plaza. “Make Carlinville Beautiful” and the Plaza owner, Central Realty, partnered to beautify the city and plant gardens along the Carlinville Plaza property to provide food and habitat for pollinating insects.  A vegetable garden soon became a part of the project and continues to produce an annual harvest of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables for the community and local food pantry.

The garden was named after “Granny Wilson”, an herbalist from Humansville, Missouri, who has local ties to Carlinville residents.  She and her husband, Doc (Luke) Wilson, a pharmacist, owned a traveling music and medicine show that performed in small towns similar to Carlinville across  the Midwest.   The sold homemade saves and herbal remedies homemade medications drawing the crowds to the entertainment.  They, “set the pitch” in towns much like Carlinville on city square and parks, mostly in Missouri. The performing troops vaudeville style acts offered much appreciated entertainment, prizes and opportunities to buy the homemade herbal remedies.  The gatherings would look similar to the evenings of today’s Carlinville Rotary Club Ice Cream Socials.

Doc Wilson, a very personable and convincing pharmacist, promoted and sold the home-made products Granny made.  The last show was in Luka, Illinois in the early 1950’s, however the herbal salve the grandkids called “old stinky” was sent by mail order for years after the close of the show.  The salve was made in a large crock in the smokehouse where Granny and doc Wilson lived in Humansville, Missouri. 

Granny(Sibil) Wilson 

Granny (Sibil) and Doc (Luke) were the parents of Ruth Mildred Wilson Parrill, (Mrs. Kenneth Parrill), of Carlinville. Mary Parrill Tinder (formerly Mary Bates), co-founder of “Make Carlinville Beautiful: is their granddaughter.  Other Carlinville family include great granddaughter, Bobbi Bates, her three children: Macy, Ella and Grant Walker, and great, great grandson, Gatlin Dean, all of Carlinville.

The garden was named “Granny Wilson’s Garden” when Dana and John Yowell, Carlinville residents and site stewards for the garden, mentioned that the garden was located on “Wilson Street”.  It took no time at all for the garden to be named “Granny Wilson’s Garden” after volunteers learned the story of Granny and Doc Wilson and the traveling medicine show.

NEXT:  REO Truck Garden and Bee Sculpture: (Carlinville Plaza)