Samuel McConnell Willson was born near Elizabeth, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on July 17, 1796. When his intentions to the ministry were made known, he pursued a classical education in Bedford Academy, under the tutelage of his brother, Dr. James R. Willson. He finished his studies in the Philadelphia Academy, in 1817, and, thereafter, studied theology under Dr. Samuel B. Wylie. He was licensed by the Philadelphia Presbytery, June 19, 1820, and ordained by the Northern Presbytery, to the Galway congregation, New York, October 14, 1821. He resigned this charge, May 16, 1827, and taught for five years in Coldenham and Albany, New York. On May 19, 1833, he was installed as the pastor of the Craftsbury, Vermont, congregation. There, he continued until he resigned, May 10, 1845, moving to the Kortright, New York, congregation, where he labored until his death, on January 21, 1864.