Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

October 8, 2008

James Vernon “Pinky” Wilson

Filed under: Family — Janice @ 12:51 am

This Saturday at Texas A&M University in College Station at 9 a.m. there will be an unveiling of a statue honoring the man that wrote the Aggie War Hymn, Pinky Wilson. If you aren’t familiar with the story of Pinky Wilson, you can Google his name or Aggie War Hymn and easily find out more. Basically, he was an Aggie who went off to fight in World War I and, while in the trenches of France, wrote a song for his alma mater. After he came back, someone heard of the song and it caught on and became the official school fight song.

I tell you all of this because Pinky Wilson is my cousin. My grandmother and Pinky were first cousins. Their mothers, Lou Hood Puckett and Mary Hood Wilson, were sisters. He was raised around the Florence area and then became a farmer in the Burnet area and that is where he is buried. I believe there is a memorial to him at the cemetery, too, put up by the city. I have at least found documents online related to putting a memorial, but I don’t know if it ever happened.

I remember Mamma being very proud of Pinky (this is the same grandmother who had the birthday last week). She had a copy of the sheet music that he had autographed for her. I know it had printed on the front “Words by Pinky Wilson, Music by ……” and had someone else’s name. Mamma was irritated because she said that Pinky wrote both the words and music, but he didn’t know how to write music down so this other guy had really only written down the tune Pinky told him to put down. I’ve read that the tune is basically that song about “My Coney Island Baby” so Pinky didn’t really write it either, I suppose. But on her sheet music, Pinky crossed out that guys name and wrote in his own. My aunt had the sheet music framed and it hung on Mamma’s wall for years. Aunt Leta has it now, I suppose. I used to play it at her house and bang it out on that big old upright. My mother went to Tarleton A&M, which was a part of the A&M family, so she knew the song well and taught us how it went. Since no one in our family went to A&M and some DID go to Texas, it might not have been as fully embraced as you’d think.

Pinky Wilson died in 1980. I was on the air when it came across the old teletype on the Texas AP News. I called Mamma and told her. It had been years since she had seen him, but she was glad to get the word. I think (hope!) I still have that newswire somewhere in my genealogy information. I am sometimes bad about letting things vanish.

I might not have even known this was going on Saturday in College Station except that I exchanged some emails this week with a Hood cousin who I only met through the internet a couple of years ago. Because we were talking about the Hoods, I was doing a little Googling to see what I could find that was new and found that little tidbit. I’m glad it popped up when it did and I learned before the fact.
So congratulations Pinky for getting your statue on your beloved campus. I hope to go see it one of these days.  I wish I had a picture to put of Pinky here, but no such luck. So I’ll put a picture of his mother and my my grandmother. Mom remembers visiting Aunt Mary and says she was the sweetest woman on the face of the earth. This picture was taken near Florence in the 1950s.

Mamma and Aunt Mary


  1. Janice:
    Your cousin Susie went to A&M for 2 years. So one in the family did go to A&M. She came home when her Step-Dad passed away.

    Your blog is neat and informative.
    Hope all is well with you and Mark.
    Love to see you guys.
    Aunt Leta

    Comment by Leta Ellis — October 12, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  2. I live on the ranch that Pinky used to live on in Joppa Texas. Just wondering if you know any stories about it. I hear a story once about Pinky sitting on the front porch watching as a tornado blew through the front yard. The neighbors house was wrecked… Pinky’s didn’t even budge.

    Comment by Anna Broesche — April 26, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

  3. I am the granduaghter of Col. James William Wilson and Fay Jewel Morgan-Wilson, my mother is Maxie wilson. i have plenty of old stories that have been passed down thru the family; the wilsons, morgans and pertil’s are burried in salado, the old family homestead was where the “nature trail” is on the other side of the damn at stillhouse. they were burried there until the gov moved the graves to another location when they turned the homestead into what it is now. my mother has many pictures and i swear the older lady in the picture above looks very much like a wilson, like the women my mother calls momma. we are scottish. we are proud! please feel free to contact me as i would love to connect w/ my kin. as for the tornado story, i do have to say, from the stories ive been told it’s true. We Wilsons are known for our inner and outer strength. I personally am a 6th gen Texan, my mother was born in Salado. My Family is : “uncle george wilson, uncle tommy wilson, uncle pinky ( i do believe i attended his funeral in Belton, maybe, i was so young)poppy(james w. wilson) nanny (fay morgan) joe pirtle is my cousin. do you know any of us?? please let me know!

    Comment by CAROLYN ANN WILSON MONTGOMERY — May 11, 2010 @ 2:47 am

  4. we are also blood kin to the Purdy’s.

    Comment by CAROLYN ANN WILSON MONTGOMERY — May 11, 2010 @ 2:56 am

  5. Hi Janice, Just happened on this post and looked at my tree again and found that Mary Cassandra Hood was born in Ozark, AR. I’m not sure when Issac took his family to Texas but that is where most of our Hoods live now. Me, my brother and his son are the last of our Hoods (name) in Arkansas. My brother and me are DONE! So that leaves my nephew go carry on the name here and does not look like that is going to happen. Gary

    Comment by Gary Hood — September 29, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  6. Hi! I am a relative of Pinky Wilson also. He is my Great Uncle. His father and my Grandpa Lonnie were brothers. I have just started researching all my family. My father was 50 when I was born and we moved away from Louisiana so I never met any of the family.

    I am loving all the information and pictures that I am finding and would love any input or sharing anyone would like to do!
    My email is danarenewilson@gmail.com!

    Dana Wilson

    Comment by Dana Wilson — April 18, 2016 @ 2:59 pm

  7. My name is Traci Wilson. I am the grand daughter of Lonnie Wilson. his father was James William Wilson. They lived in Oak Grove LA.
    Who was a member of James Vernon Pinky Wilson’s family. I live in Natchez Mississippi. I am looking for relatives also. My little sister is doing research. I just stumbled upon this information.
    You may contact me.

    Comment by Traci Wilson — April 18, 2016 @ 3:01 pm

  8. Pinky was my great grandfather Hulin Wilson’s brother. I met Pinky wben I was a kid in Inglewood CA

    Comment by Anonymous — July 3, 2017 @ 12:10 am

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