Saturday, January 12, 2008

So who was James Wisner?

Previously I posted a clip of the 1850 census image for William Wisner and asked what others thought the first name of the last person listed might be. I thought maybe James. Some agreed and I also was given some other names and ideas to think about. Since then I have done a series of posts on the information that I have found on this family. James, or who ever he was, does not appear to be a child of William as he does not turn up in any other records. Both Lori and Miriam thought he could be a child of Fanny Reed Wisner from a previous marriage which had not occurred to me. He may not have been a Wisner at all. He could have been a hired hand or a nephew of William's wife, Elizabeth Badgley but I have nothing that points to that.

I've looked at The Wisners in America and their kindred : a genealogical and biographical history. Baltimore, Md.: unknown, c1918. by G. Franklin Wisner a number of times looking for clues as to the father of William Wisner. In looking again recently I found the following and I have highlighted the text that most interested me.

Pg 252

Miss Ethel Wisner, of San Diego, Cal., on Feb. 11, 1917, says:

My great grandfather, Daniel D. Wisner was killed by the Indians about 100 years ago in Michigan, near Kalamazoo. This has always seemed an important event in the family history. We have been able to trace the relationship to several Wisners from this Calamity.

My own grandfather, Daniel Clinton Wisner, crossed the plains in 1871 from Michigan. He settled in Kansas, where he died.

My own father, John Stewart Wisner, came west from Michigan to New Mexico in 1879, and followed railroad contracting all over the west for many years.


Under date of January 11, 1918, Ethel Wisner wrote:

“I have just been able to gather a little more data regarding our branch of the Wisner family. My great-great-grandfather installed the first salt works in the United States at Syracuse, NY.

“His son, James Wisner, killed a drunken Indian in a dispute over a horse in St. Joe county, Mich.

“My grandfather, Clinton Wisner, married Phoebe Protzman in Indiana. He died October 28, 1873, in Riley county, Kan. He had five sons – Frank, Daniel, Wales, John Stewart and Willard Bonaparte Wisner

“Frank Wisner married Anna Thorpe. Daniel Wisner married Mary Mapp. And they had four children – Frank, Phoebe, Oscar and Lee Wisner.

“Wales Wisner married P. Eaton and they had five children – Robert, Ester, Ada, Emma and George.

“John Stewart Wisner married Rosa Hitchcock. They had one child – Lillian Ethel Wisner.

“Willard Wisner married Showalters.”

These entries are interesting because of the name James combined with the locations mentioned. My Wisner line has connections to most of the places listed.

A quick check at rootsweb and I found several trees that appear to be Ethel Wisner's line. They contain conflicting information so I have some research of my own ahead of me to verify her line. It appears that she descends from the Lt. Thomas Wisner line through his son David.

The salt works in Syracuse were started in the very late 1700's. I have found nothing to place Lt. Thomas or any of his known sons in Syracuse at any time. The only Wisner's I have found in Syracuse or Onondaga County are my great-great grandfather, William, and James Wisner born between 1761 and 1764, son of Captain John Wisner and Mary Thompson. James lived in the western portion of the county in the towns of Elbridge and Camillus and moved on further west early. He may have have been closer to Syracuse at some point or traveled to work on the salt works but I have not found anything to support that. On the other hand, William owned land in Dewitt along the Erie Canal and later in the Town of Salina, not too distant from some of the later salt works. I have found nothing to indicate that he had anything to do with the salt works but his location makes it quite possible.

St. Joseph County, Michigan. My Carlisle and Glover ancestors came through St. Joseph County in 1849. William Wisner's daughter, Sarah Ann, married Michael Camfield and they lived in Berrien Co, MI in 1870 and Branch Co, MI in 1880. I have not located them on the 1860 census yet. So I do not see a direct connection here but I will try to see what I can find for St. Joseph Co.
One of William Wisner's sons, William Abner, settled in Washington Co, Kansas which is just north of Riley Co, Kansas. Is this a clue? Again, I have much more follow up work to do.

James Wisner, previously mentioned as having been in Onondaga County, NY, had a grandson, Addison Morell Wisner (born 1827) who is also on the 1850 census for Lake County, IL in Libertyville.

So what do I have? So far everything I have found could easily be caulked up to coincidence and maybe that is all it will ever be. I could spend many more hours tracking down these families only to find out that they do not in fact connect to mine. But I can't help thinking that there is a clue in there some place.

So is the James that was living with my family in 1850 a relative or just a stray? If he was related will he tie into one of the other two lines mentioned or be from another line altogether?

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