I find surprising facts every day as I write about my ancestors. An early 1870s Broome Republican column contains a resolution passed to recognize a schoolteacher, Mrs. S. D. Wilbur. The Binghamton School District Convention formally recognizes the young woman for her diligence and kindness.
Mrs. S. D. Wilbur. The style of the period is to use the husband’s initials, prefaced by “Mrs.”. It seems Stephen Wilbur married someone else prior to Lovina, whom we met at the 1900 wedding of her daughter, Leoria Carolyn to Albert Meeker. My investigation begins for a former Mrs. Wilbur.
I previously saw a list of marriages that included a Stephen Wilbur and Jennie Kincaid. It was local to Brockport and I knew he went to college there, but further research on Jennie yielded nothing to support this was my Stephen. Even reading through the Brockport Normal School graduates, a place they may have crossed paths, produced no Jennie Kincaid or any Kincaid. Genealogical sites were likewise dead ends.
Months later I stumbled upon a passage from The History of a Kincaid Family By James Bernard Newman containing my keyword search, “Stephen D. Wilbur”. Finally, this may be the Kincaid-Wilbur connection I needed. Much of the text from the book was online at the time, including Janet Catherine Kincaid, born in Erie County, New York in 1851 and known by her nickname, Jennie.
The Kincaid family immigrated from England with three sons in 1847 and began farming in western New York State. Little is written by Newman about Jennie, although he does say she attended Brockport Normal School.
We find our “Mrs. S. D. Wilbur”. On July 1, 1870, his college graduation day, Stephen Decatur Wilbur marries Janet Catherine Kincaid. The ceremony takes place in the home of the bride’s parents, John and Catherine Kincaid, in Brockport, NY, officiated by Rev. J.N. Simkins. Stephen is 28 and Jennie is 19 years old.
Following their marriage, the couple travels to the Binghamton area where Jennie works as a public school teacher in nearby Maine, New York. Letters in Newman’s book hint that Stephen may be unemployed. In one, Jennie’s brother, William, invites them to move to Leavenworth, Kansas where he notes there are more positions for men. It seems, the local school system in Broome County, New York prefers female teachers making it difficult for Stephen to secure a job. However, the Wilburs stay in New York and Stephen purchases farmland together with another of her brothers.
In other correspondence, Jennie’s parents and aunt indicate they are not pleased with her choice of the one-armed Civil War veteran with emphasis on his disability. They wonder how he will manage in a farming venture with their son.
On September 12, 1873, Jennie dies after giving birth, and their son Earl Wilbur joins her two days afterward. Since she is buried in Spencerport, Monroe County, New York, it is likely she had returned back to the Brockport area for the birth of her baby.
The next month, the teachers of Binghamton pay tribute to Jennie with a reminder of “the importance of making a more faithful use of the time we still have for laboring for the welfare of others”.