William Pearson Wilson* 1862-1938

Memories of the Phonograph


Kansas Memory - Kansas Historical Society

The following story about William Pearson Wilson is from the on-line display of his Edison Concert Phonograph at the Kansas Historical Society.


Edison Concert Phonograph sold by the Wittmann Company of Kansas City, Omaha, and Lincoln and now at the Kansas Historical Society.


Serial number C8009. Patent dates from 1888 to 1898. Includes a large brass horn.



This Edison Concert Phonograph in the "New Style" cabinet was introduced in February 1901. It has the Triton 3-spring motor and the 5 in. diameter cylinder mandrel. The horn is 24 in. and all brass.

This Edison Phonograph was "won by William Pearson Wilson (1862-1938) in a raffle held by R. H. Morehouse's store in Topeka around 1901 to 1904. He had purchased the raffle ticket for about 39 cents when stopping in to have his watch checked.

The Wilson family would often set up the phonograph on the porch of the family home so that the entire neighborhood could enjoy it, even taking requests by phone."


For the rest of the Wittmann Company story...

In the fall of 1902 Edison removed the Wittmann Company from its list of Jobbers for contract violations by Wittmann for cutting prices on Edison Phonographs, Records and Blanks. Subsequent issues of Edison's trade magazine The Edison Phonograph Monthly would show that the Wittmann Company of Kansas City, MO, Lincoln, NE and Omaha NE were all on the "Suspended List" of Edison Dealers.


The Edison Phonograph Monthly, March 1903, p. 3.


In the January 22, 1903 edition of the Lincoln Journal an ad by The Wittmann Company boldly advertised that they would "slaughter the largest stock of Edison 1903 Phonographs, records and supplies in the entire west and positively stake our thirty-three years business reputation on the genuineness of our unexcelled guarantee values."

The Lincoln Journal, January 22, 1903

Note that the 1903 Edison Concert Phonograph was one of those machines being reduced by the Wittmann Company, from $75.00 to $56.25 -- prices "in open defiance to the world." Perhaps it was also during this time that the Edison Concert Phonograph was won at a raffle by Mr. Wilson.

The Wittmann Company would continue to be listed in every issue of the Edison Phonograph Monthly as "Suspended" until July 1908 when Edison changed the process and only added new names to the monthly "Suspended List" with the clarification that this was a supplemental list and the previous "Suspended Lists" were "still in force" for those companies previously listed.

Copies of the final decrees in the suits by Edison and the National Phonograph Co. against the Wittmann Co. were signed on March 9, 1904. Copies of those decrees appeared in the April 1904 edition of The Edison Phonograph Monthly.


For the role of Wilson's family in entertaining the entire neighborhood with their Edison Phonograph William Pearson Wilson has been made an honorary Friend of the Phonograph.