From Stephen’s birth to the start of the Civil War, the United States was transforming from a farming society to one with remarkable advances in industry and vast urban development. Generally, the South was considered agricultural and the North, industrial. However, the Gazetteer and Business Directory of Broome and Tioga Counties, N. Y. for 1872-3, lists few professionals or blue collar workers in Hawleyton. The majority of entries are farmers.
Stephen's daily life during that time most likely consists of working on the farm and attending school. The specific area belonging to his father, Abram (Abraham) Wilbur, is listed as Lot 67 with 50 acres in Hawleyton, a village at the very south of Binghamton. Whether this was a dairy farm, like most, hasn’t been confirmed.
We do know Stephen had family nearby. His uncle, Hiram L. Wilbur, farms lot 60 and leases 152 acres, according to the same Gazetteer. Also, his mother’s father, Alpheus Finch, may live with them for a period of time. Alpheus dies in Broome County in 1858 when Stephen is 17.
If you look at a current Google map of the Hawleyton area, it is still heavily wooded and numerous farms are visible. Today, life for the school boy is different as the result of modern farming advances over the past 150 years; however, much of the landscape south of Binghamton on the Pennsylvania border, is unchanged.