Stephen D. Wilbur’s Story Begins in 1841

by Nancy Barber

Stephen D. Wilbur was born in 1841, in the town of Chenango, Broome County, New York. Stephen's father, Abraham, sometimes known as Abram T, born in Schoharie, was 31 years old and a farmer. His mother, Mary Ann Finch, born in Pennsylvania, was 25. Stories say the Wilbur’s and Finch’s were Quakers that originated in Schoharie prior to settling in Broome County. 

That year, three men occupied the presidency: Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. The latter two were Whigs, a party which ultimately fell apart over the question of slavery.  In the same year The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the Amistad case, and Frederick Douglass spoke at the Massachusetts Anti-slavery Convention.  The issues of slavery and states’ rights would change Stephen’s life.

1841 also was the start of the implementation of universal education by Whigs, including William H. Seward, then governor of New York. Education for all required more teachers and more teacher training schools. The “normal” school began preparing educators for the first time on a national level. Ultimately, they provide careers for disabled young men after the Civil War.

Three events in one year connected and impacted, the farmer’s son, Stephen Wilbur, and his descendants.

Today is Day 2 of the Your Turn Challenge.