Friday, March 12, 2010

Sarah Ann Wisner, The Early Years

The Early Years

The first record I've found for William Wisner is a record of a land purchase in 1812. At that time he was 29 years old and paid $1662 for just over 268 acres in lot 42, Manlius, Onondaga, NY. While not wealthy, the sum paid indicates that William was doing well financially. It is unclear whether he already knew Elizabeth Badgley when he settled in Onondaga County or if they met there. Nor do I know when or where they married. But they settled on his land and began clearing it and shaping it into a farm. Their first child, Prentice, was born there in 1815. This is how we find the family on 9 October 1817 when Sarah Ann was born.


Sarah Ann was born the same year that work was begun on the Erie Canal and if you look closely at the map above you will see where the canal ran through the middle of the map. The family home would have been just north of the canal in the box with the M. With the canal came prosperity for the region.

Other than her birth date and where she lived I have no other hard and fast facts for Sarah Ann. I have no idea what type of home the family lived in. Was it constructed of logs, lumber or stone? Was it a single story or two? The winters in Onondaga County are long and cold so there might have been a fireplace or perhaps just a wood stove. The kitchen would have been where the family gathered. Sarah may have had a mattress stuffed with hay and placed of the floor or perhaps she had a slightly more comfortable rope bed.

There must have been some time for play while Sarah Ann was growing up but during the period when she was born life would have consisted of lots of work. As the oldest daughter she must have learned to help her mother at a very early age. While her father and uncle worked on improving and farming the land, her mother would have been responsible for the household including the care of the children (there were seven more after Sarah Ann, one about every second year), all of the cooking which would have been done on a wood stove, housework, sewing, washing and surely there was a large kitchen garden to tend. Most likely there were chickens and a cow or two to care for too.

Sarah Ann would have known her maternal kin. In 1820 her Uncle Egbert Badgley is listed just after her father. It is possible they were living in the same house. Her grandparents, Anthony and Mary Badgley, lived a short distance away in what was then Orville but today known as Dewitt however Mary died just before Sarah Ann turned three. Other aunts, uncles and cousins also lived nearby. I have so far not discovered which of the four available churches the family attended but religion would always play an important role in her life.

There was a school nearby and since Sarah Ann could read, write and do math I assume that she attended school during the winters, at least for a few years but it is possible that she was educated at home.

I have many more questions than answers about Sarah Ann's youth. The family did sell the land in lot 42 and by 1831 were said to be of the town of Salina just a little to the west. I do not know exactly where the family was living but my cousin, Cecil Camfield, wrote in a short history of the family that their farm was on the banks of the canal. You can still make out the path of the old canal in some of the roads today and my mother and I often detour down Towpath Road on those rare occasions when we visit the old Orville Cemetery.

Why have I mentioned the Erie Canal so many times? Sarah Ann's story continues tomorrow.

This is the second in a series written for the 91st edition of the
Carnival of Genealogy: A Tribute to Women!

Sarah Ann Wisner Camfield Timeline
Sarah Ann Wisner, The Early Years
Sarah Ann Wisner Camfield, Marriage, Children and Migration
Sarah Ann Camfield, The Final Years

Also see:

Family of William Wisner
Badgley and Wisner Deed Abstracts, Onondaga, NY
Henry Bogardus, Shirt Tail Cousin

Thanks for the poster fM!

David Rumsey Collection: Map of the County of Onondaga. By David H. Burr. Published by the Surveyor General, pursuant to an Act of the Legislature. Entered according to an Act of Congress Jany. 5th. 1829 by David H. Burr of the State of New York. Engd. by Rawdon, Clark & Co., Albany & Rawdon, Wright & Co., New York. - Images copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates. Images may be reproduced or transmitted, but not for commercial use. For commercial use or commercial republication, contact This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. By downloading any images from this site, you agree to the terms of that license.

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