One of the founding members of the eminent architectural and engineering firm Wilson Bros. & Co.
, John A. Wilson was born in Phoenixville, PA, the son of civil engineer William Hasell Wilson. Like his brothers, he graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and immediately after graduating in 1856 began a distinguished career as an engineer by serving as topographer on the surveys executed for the Honduras Inter-Oceanic Railway in Central America. In 1859 he returned to the United States and began work for the Pennsylvania Railroad Co., also serving as chief engineer for the Junction Railway in Philadelphia from 1861 to 1864. There followed a number of engineering positions with railroad companies. In 1876 he and his brother Joseph
established the firm of Wilson Bros. & Co., with which he remained until his death. Throughout his many years with the firm, he worked primarily as an engineer, particularly for those projects related to railroad companies.
Wilson belonged to a number of engineering societies, including the American Society of Civil Enqineers, the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia. In additiocn, he held memberships in the Franklin Institute, the Historical Society cf Pennsylvania, the St. Andrew's Society of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Art Club. He was also a vestryman at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in West Philadelphia.