Today we choose where we live based on job availability. The Wilburs moved to heavily wooded wilderness areas when there was no more family land in order to make their own work. Parents, children and possessions traveled along unpaved roads without the conveniences we enjoy, at an average of 20 miles a day.
Stephen’s grandfather, Thomas Wilbur, was born in Rhode Island, the same state that many of his ancestors called home. However, the population was increasing at a rate larger than the available acreage for families to farm. Consequently, the westward movement began as settlers migrated to New York, among them Thomas Wilbur.
During the Revolutionary War, the British controlled Unadilla, NY, where Thomas Wilbur established his homestead. It is likely that most of his children were born in Rhode Island, and they moved the family following the war. At the first Unadilla town meeting, held in the home of Daniel Bissel on April 5, 1796, Thomas Wilbur was elected as one of the school commissioners. This proves that the Wilburs were settled in Unadilla on that date.
Thomas and his wife, Anna, had 14 or 15 children, of whom 5 were sons and Daniel the last son. The Wilbur tract allowed Abraham’s father, Daniel, to farm in the same community. According to census manuscripts, Abraham was born in Schoharie, New York. Schoharie County was at one time expansive and extended far north, south, and west into other states. It was divided soon, and many times into several counties, one of which contains Unadilla to this day.
Abraham, like his father, chose to move away once there was no more family land. He settled another 50 miles west along the Susquehanna River to start his own farm. The 1790 construction of the Susquehanna Turnpike was a passable route for the journey. It is not clear at this time if Abraham’s land was a grant, but it is possible that in 1835 he received one. The frame house he built, sat on 40 or more acres.
The challenges in telling Stephen’s story are completely different and more numerous than I expected. On Day 3 of the Your Turn Challenge, the committment to the community and the support it provides, are very important to the completion of my project.