The Acme Colored Giants, representing Celeron (near Jamestown, New York), was the last all-black team of the 19th century to play in an organized, otherwise white league, the Iron and Oil League. They weren’t especially successful, finishing last at 8-41, but several of their players are recognizable, notably Tokohama conspirator Dave Wyatt, who would later become an important sportswriter for a number of black newspapers, and Ed Wilson. Wilson just may be the Ed Wilson who later played for the Cuban X Giants and smashed three home runs in one game off future major leaguer Stoney McGlynn in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1902.
I didn’t know much about Wilson before, but the Sporting Life piece identifies his hometown as Bellevue, Pennsylvania, a small borough adjacent to Pittsburgh in Allegheny County. Over the years spanning the turn of the century, I was able to find one African-American man named Edward Mathew Wilson of an appropriate age living in Bellevue. There’s no smoking gun linking this Ed Wilson to baseball. He’s listed as a day laborer in the 1900 census, a “general” worker in the 1910 census (his younger brother Charles was a piano player), and as an employee of a steel car company on his World War I card. Still, the Bellevue connection seems like an important clue. The 1900 census lists his birthdate as June 1873, in Pennsylvania; the 1910 census says he was 36, and his World War I card, assuming that it belongs to the same person, has him born on January 3, 1875.
The 1900 and 1910 census entries are clearly for the same person, although so far it seems to me that the same can’t be said for certain of the World War I card. But the Sporting Life article does give us a good lead.