At the turn of the last century, Edmonds' shingle and lumber industries were drawing throngs of workers to the budding town. Solid employment with attractive wages, churches, social activities and a growing sense of community made the town a natural place for workers and their families to settle.
James E. Wilson and his young family were among the many who came to Edmonds during these years. He immediately found employment in the mills. A natural people person, he soon found himself supervising workers and managing various phases of mill operations. The first known photo of him shows him standing with other millworkers in about 1905.
Wilson's position at the mills helped him become known and respected in the community. When the volunteer fire department was formed in 1904, Wilson was among its first members.
In 1907 he left the mills to open the Crescent Grocery Store in the commercial block of Main Street. Two years later the out several businesses in this block, but left the Crescent Grocery without significant damage.
In the wake of the fire, Florance Roscoe (F.R.) Beeson purchased the burned out property and . Wilson seized the opportunity to move to larger quarters, and when the Beeson Building opened in 1911 the Crescent Grocery was among its first tenants.
Wilson operated the grocery for several years before turning over the business to his son-in-law Ernie Hubbard, who a few years earlier had married Wilson's daughter Lala. Wilson then went on to open his first insurance agency, the profession to which he would devote the remainder of his life.
As the years went by, Wilson and his insurance agency became a fixture in Edmonds. In 1927 he was elected City Attorney, a post which he held till his death the following year.
Upon his death, the insurance agency passed to Wilson's son-in-law Ernie Hubbard, who along with his son Lawrence continued to operate it into the 1950s.