Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wilderman Family (3) - Colonists and Pioneers

Part 3 - From Frontier to Settled Territory
Find Part 2 of the Story Here . . .
Find Part 1 of the Story Here . . .

Note, this post has been revised. The original 2-Part Wilderman Family series has been updated and more information has been added. The series has been expanded to 3 Parts with most of the new information in this part.

Jacob Wilderman and Johann Meyer left their small village in Baden, Germany and came to Colonial America in 1751. Jacob would marry Elizabetha Meyer and make his home in Maryland. There he would raise a family, farm, fight in the revolution and live out his live. After the Revolution, his son George would marry and head to western Pennsylvania to live in the company of other Pennsylvania Dutch settlers. Later he would pick-up once more and venture into the frontier of the Northwest Territory and settle just east of the Mississippi in what is now Illinois.

The Wilderman family would thrive in Saint Clair County. A number of sons would operate large farms of their own. Later generations would continue to farm but some family members would seek other callings including one of George's grandsons, Alonzo, who would become a Circuit Court Judge. Many descendants still live in the area and the family history is well documented.

The Wilderman Cemetery in the countryside on Section 8 in the Town of Freeburg.
James Wilderman, Sarah Jarvis and a number of their children are buried here.
The Next Generation, James Wilderman

When George Wilderman, Patience Dorsey and family arrived in Western Illinois in 1807, their fifth son, James was just 16 years old. He would marry Sarah Jarvis (b.1795, d.1856) in 1812 in Saint Clair County. James Wilderman would serve in the War of 1812 with two of his brothers, George and Jacob. They were "Mounted Rifleman" and part of of Captain Jacob Short's 1st Company of the 2nd Regiment Militia of the Illinois Territory. Their task was to defend the territory from hostile Indians tribes which had sided with the British in the war. James was also noted to have served in the Blackhawk war is some capacity.

Records indicate that James and Sarah had 17 children and operated a large farm on section eight in the Town of Freeburg in Saint Clair County. The children of James Wilderman and Sarah Jarvis were:
  • Elizabeth (b.1814, d.1892?); married Archibald Hammil or Hamil in 1837 and Newit Drew in 1847. She had three children with her first husband and at least six with her second. Newit Drew may have come from Tennesee and they farmed in Saint Clair County.
  • Nancy (b.1815, d.1846); married Jacob Carr in 1815. They raised five children and lived in Saint Clair County. Jacob's family came to Illinois from Virginia.
  • Franklin (b.1816, d.1857); married Lucy Switlett in Wisconsin in 1850. Franklin was listed as a Miner living in Shullsburg in the 1850 US Census. They raised at least two children and lived out their lives in Wisconsin. After Franklin's death at age 41, Lucy remarried.There is a stone for him at the Wilderman Cemetery but he is probably buried in Wisconsin.
  • Cyrena (b.1818, d.1890); married Sydney Shook in 1839. They raised 10 children and farmed in Saint Clair County. Their farm was on Section 7 and right next to James Wilderman Jr. Cyrena and her sister, Mary Ann married two Shook brothers in a double wedding ceremony.
The gravestone of Cyrena Wilderman, Green Mount
Protestant Cemetery, Belleville, Illinois

  • Lucinda (b.1819 d.1865?); married R.M. Jackson in 1840. They were in Illinois for a few years and then settled in Green County, Wisconsin where they farmed in the Town of Adams and raised 11 children. In 1861, they moved to Monroe where R.M. ran the Junction Hotel. Lucinda and two of her children died from diphtheria. Sometime after she died, he went to Missouri with some of the children. R.M. would marry two more times and live to the age of 93.
The gravestone of Lucinda Wilderman,
Greenwood Cemetery, Monroe, Wisconsin

  • Mary Ann (b.1819, d.1892?); married the other Shook brother, Samuel in 1844. They had at least one child and farmed in Saint Clair County.
  • William Jackson (b.1821, d.1850); was thought to have purchased land from the Federal Land Office in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, but not much else is known about him. He died at age 29 in Wisconsin.
  • James (b.1824, d.1901); operated a successful farm in Saint Clair County but never married. On the 1874 map of The Town of Freeburg, his farm covered 300 acres on Section 7 and 8.
The James Wilderman Jr. & brothers farm, noted as 5 miles southeast of Belleville.

  • John H. (b.1826, d.1892); was the twin of Sarah. He also did not marry and may have farmed with his brother James.
  • Sarah (b.1826, d.1910); married Reuben Holcomb and is discussed in greater detail below.
  • Delilah J. (b.1828, d.1916); married Herbert Heberer or Hoelerer in 1866. They had no children and operated a 320 acre farm on Section 14 and 15 in the Town of Freeburg.
  • Thomas L. (b.1830, d.1892); not much is known about him and he did not marry.
  • Elinor (b.1832, d.?); she is reported to have died young.
  • male infant (b.1834, d.1834); did not survive childbirth.
  • Amanda (b.1835, d.?); she was a twin of Maria and reportedly died young.
  • Maria (b.1835, d.1925); married John McGuire in 1860. They had at least four children and lived in Saint Clair County. John's family came to Illinois from Pennsylvania, probably with the Wilderman party.
  • George W. (b.1837, d.1858); he reportedly never married and only lived to the age of 21.
Sarah Jarvis, Early Illinois Pioneer

Sarah Jarvis is almost certainly from a family of one of the early pioneer settlers of western Illinois. She is probably the daughter of Franklin Jarvis (b.1757?) and Elizabeth Scott (b.1778). Sarah Jarvis has been noted to have been born in Virginia or Maryland but most likely it was Virginia. Franklin Jarvis was one of the first settlers in western Illinois. He came with his wife’s family, led by her father, William Scott. Franklin moved from Virginia and first settled in Kentucky. The Scott/Jarvis group made the trip to Illinois by wagon train from Fort Massac on the Ohio River, arriving first at New Deal where they remained for a few months, then moved on in the fall of 1797, and settling at “Turkey Hill” in Saint Claire County. These early settlers were mostly on their own and had little contact with the outside world for the first few years. Their closest neighbors were the Kickapoo and relations were reported to be cordial.

Franklin's lineage is not entirely clear but he may be the son of John Jarvis (II) (b.1725, d.1799) from Westmorland County, Virginia and Elizabeth Field (b.1729?) from Botetourt County, Virginia.  It is also possible that he is the son of Field Jarvis and Francis Franklin also of Virginia. Field Jarvis is definitely the son of John Jarvis and Elizabeth Field but it is unclear of Franklin is the son or brother of Field (sources of birth and death dates vary, making it harder to determine who is the son of whom). However, Francis Franklin’s last name may hint that Franklin is her son and thereby the grandson and not the son of Elizabeth Field.

James Wilderman, Sarah Jarvis and many of their children are buried at the Wilderman Cemetery located on Section 8 in the Town of Freeburg. The cemetery is located off the road in a farm field and not easily accessible. There is another Wilderman Cemetery about a mile away where James' brother Dorsey and many of his descendants are buried.

The gravestone of Sarah Jarvis at Wilderman Cemetary.

Sarah Wilderman, A Little House on the Prairie

The 10th child of James Wilderman and Sarah Jarvis, Sarah (b.1826, d.1910), the twin of John, would grow up on the prairie farm near Freeburg and apparently gained a good education. Some time around 1850, she would head north to Wisconsin. There, she and Sarah Scott (possibly of the Saint Clair County Scott family) would be teachers in a log school, noted as the first schoolhouse in District Five, located on Section 22 in the Town of Adams, Green County, Wisconsin. There was a Sarah Wilderman, age 21, noted as a border, living northeast of the Town of Adams in the Town of Primrose in 1850 and that might be the same Sarah who was teaching school by that time.

The School house that Sarah taught at was about two miles from the recently acquired lands of Reuben Holcomb (b.1816, d.1899) . Reuben and Sarah would be married in 1855. He was also a pioneer and had come to Wisconsin from New York, via Michigan, about the time Wisconsin became a state. The Holcomb's first lived in a log house and later built a larger frame home where Sarah would raise a family and live out her life on their 300+ acre farm in the Town of Adams.

A typical rural Wisconsin log school house. Sarah
Wilderman would have taught in a structure similar to this.

Sarah and Reuben had five children: James (b.1856, d.1937), Ernest (b.1861, d.1931), Florence (b.1861, d.1863), Reuben (b.1864, d.1949) and Jennie (b.1866, d.1966). Just before her death, Sarah was living with her son Reuben in Monroe, Wisconsin. She would die in 1910 and is buried with her husband at Greenwood Cemetery in Monroe.

You can read more about the Reuben Holcomb family here . . .


In 1751 Jacob Wilderman would arrive in Colonial America, an early German settler in the new world. He would serve his new land, along with his son George, in the Revolutionary War. George Wilderman and family would head to western Pennsylvania and then pressed west into the frontier of the Northwest Territory. He would settle near the the Mississippi in future Illinois in 1807. His son James would come of age in the "west" and see the territory firmly settled and become the State of Illinois. Sarah Wilderman, a daughter of James would grow up on the prairie. She would venture north to teach school in the new State of Wisconsin and live to see the 20th Century.

German peasants, colonial citizens, patriots, pioneers, farmers, Americans; this is the story of the Wilderman family; it is the story of America.

Research Notes: Much of the information about the Wilderman Family was found on-line at RootsWeb (part of AncestryDotCom) and a good deal of that information came from "The Wilderman Family Tree" by Mike and Debbie Krug and the book "The Wilderman Family" by Lora Wilderman Stookey. A number of other sources where also used including: census records, local (Saint Clair County and State of Illinois) histories, public family trees found at AncestryDotCom and other vital records and on-line sources.


  1. Great job telling the story with the facts we have. I appreciate all your hard work and thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

    1. Pam,

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. The Wilderman family is well-documented and has a very interesting history. As much as I enjoy uncovering all of the data and reading all of the facts and figures, I find that putting it in story form is the way to make the family come alive. It’s just my little contribution – but I am grateful to all those that did the hard research before me.

  2. My last name is Wildermann

    1. Thanks for visiting and reading . . .

  3. My husbands ancestor was August Wildenmann from Fayette County PA. b. May 31, 1849 and died at his home in
    Meyersdale, Pa. Jan. 15, 1916, aged 66 years, 7 months and 15 days. I have nothing past this records on this side. Was hoping maybe you might have come across any information regarding him.

    1. Thanks for reading,

      Sorry, I don’t think I can be much help to you . . . I did find a record of August on Roots Web and also believe there is information at AncestryDotCom. It looks like he came to America from Germany in the 1870s so he is probably not related to my Wilderman line. Finding information back in the ‘old country’ can the most challenging part of a genealogy project.

  4. Thank you so much for your time and effort. I can't tell you how much help this will be I am a granddaughter of Berths Viola Wilderman and Wilbur Allen Stanton. Great great granddaughter of William Wilderman and Sarah Booher. We are probably related.
    Thanks again.
    Debi Stanton

    1. Hi Debi,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading; I am glad my blog can be of help to you. Quite certain we are related; let me know if you need anything.