In Scotland the farming class was mostly on rented land. Law and gamekeepers protected the game of the country. The farmers and renters didn't take kindly to these game laws and gamekeepers. They considered them unfair laws mostly for the benefit of the sporting rich, and they would shoot this game when they thought they could do so without getting caught at it. This kind of shooting was called "poaching". West Wilson liked to poach. And so did a lot of the other young fellows in the country like to poach. They considered it great sport to slip on to some of those estates, shoot game, get the game keepers after them, and then make their get away, and while in some cases the game keepers thought they knew who the poachers
were, the law required that they would have to be caught on the premises with the evidence at hand, otherwise they couldn't be arrested and fined.
In 1846, West had made his arrangements to come to America, and on the night before the day he was to sail, there was some kind of a celebration taking place in their neighborhood, and to add cheer and light to the occasion they had a bonfire going.
There had also been a new game keeper appointed in their district, and he was going around in the crowd making boasts and threats how he was going to catch these poachers and what he would do to them. These boasts and threats were more or less directed at West and got him riled up, and being a powerful man he grabbed hold of the gamekeeper and threw him into the bonfire. It didn't do the game keeper much damage only that it singed off his whiskers, but that was a more serious offense than poaching and could call for arrest and punishment, but before they got around to make up their minds what to do about it (if anything) West had sailed for America. And that was the way he said good-bye to Scotland.
The stories of these early years has been taken from two sources. One was a little book entitled "They Came to North Tama" by Janette Stephenson Murray, written in 1953 and printed by The Traer Star-Clipper, Trear, Iowa and Hodson Printing Comapany, of Hudson, Iowa. I got my copy in 1956 with a note that said, "After yours, there will be just five copies of the book left for sale. We get an order every month or so on the average, sometimes more--in fact we sold two others within the last wee. So they'll soon be collector's items. It's too bad she did not have more printed, but of course ther was no way of knowing how popular they would be. Af first it looked like she had perhaps 100 too many!
The other source was from an unprinted manuscript written by Dalton Kennedy Wilson, who was the son of West Wilson and his second wife, Barbara Kennedy. This manuscript was entitled "My Story of the Pioneer Wilson Family". This story was included with the 75th Reunion Edition of the "Wilson Family History" printed and distributed by the Wilson Family Organization, Randolph W. Lyon, Pres. 1995