Among the early settlers of this county, the Wilhelm family deserves special mention, and are of German origin. Three brothers came over from Germany about the year 1700 and settled, one each in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. John, the father of George and the progenitor of this family, was born in New Jersey. He was the father of eight children – six sons and two daughters. Jacob, the sole surviving member of the family, lives in Woodhull, Steuben, NY. George, the subject of this brief memoir, was born Sept 2, 1791 and, Dec 25, 1815, was married to Sarah Bailey of Yates County, NY, by whom he had 10 children, viz: Ursula, John, Jonathan, Benjamin F., William B., George, Elsie Ann, James G., Rhoda, and Philip C.

March 22, 1828 he moved to the town of Sparta, taking his goods on sleighs. Here he purchased 143 acres of land, on which only 15 acres had been partly cleared, and built a frame barn. In 1835, he erected a frame building on the place previously occupied by a rude log hut, and by his sturdy will and industry made a clearing on what is now a finely cultivated farm. He held the position of road commissioner, several terms, and he never sought political preferment, but was satisfied to devote his energies to the task that he had undertaken – that of clearing and making a comfortable home out of the wilderness he had selected as a foundation. Three of his children are now living – John and William, who occupy farms in Conesus and Jonathan in Springwater. He died March 7, 1855 and his wife, October 20, 1875.

As an individual member of this family, John is, perhaps the most prominent and successful. He is the second child, was born Sept 14, 1818, and April 23, 1843, was married to Leora, daughter of Ozias Humphrey, of Springwater. They had eight children, six of whom are now living, as follows: - Emily a., Sidney S., Elsie J., Solon H., Eugene B. and Martha V. His first business venture was in a saw-mill, which he ran in connection with his father about four years. His first business purchase of land was one hundred and eighteen acres, to which he has added at different times, until he is now the owner of about four hundred acres, including the old homestead. He deals extensively in cattle and sheep. On one of his trips through the Western States he stopped at the town of Milford, Oakland County, Michigan, where, there being no bank and the business needing one, he became one of the originators of an exchange bank. The increasing population, however, demanded a national bank and they changed the Exchange bank to the National bank of Milford, of which Mr. Wilhelm is vice-president. Two of his sons, Sidney S. and Solon H, seem to have inherited their father’s business qualifications, and hold responsible positions. Sidney S. was elected Supervisor of Holly, Mich., in April, 1881, and is cashier of the Merchant’s National Bank there, to which position he was appointed at the early age of twenty-one years, and Solon H. is the cashier of the National Bank of Milford. The two brothers are extensive dealers in lumber, their transactions amounting to millions of feet of the same each year. Of the family, all are married, excepting Martha and Eugene, who reside at home, the latter assisting in the management of the large farm which he occupies with his father, and which is a very productive one, the soil being a loam and clay subsoil.

In his domestic relations, Mr. Wilhelm is a kind and loving father, teaching his children by an upright life the value and importance of virtue, and inspiring them with worthy ambitions to be true men and women in the loftiest sense of the word. His teachings are not forgotten, but are fully exemplified in the lives of his children.

History of Livingston County, Lockwood Lyon Doty, pub 1876

Ozias Humphrey moved from the town of Sennet, Cayuga Co., to Springwater in the year 1836, and lived on West Hill near the Liberty Pole corners until his death in 1856. He was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, in the year 1789. He married Parnal Douglass of New Hartford, Conn. They had nine children, Leora, wife of John Wilhelm, of Conesus, Harvey D. resides at Webster's Crossing, N. Y.; Aranda K. died in 1877, in the town of Birdsall, N.Y.; Lucy Ann married Willis Clark, of Sparta, and died in 1868; Esther M. married David Crittle, of Holly, Mich.; Correll M. resides in Springwater; Enphrasia married John M. Baird, of Holly, Mich., Mary L. died in 1852 aged 19 years; Charles resides in Almond, Allegany Co, N. Y.


John Wilhelm, PO Webster’s Crossing, farmer, 390 acres, born Milo, Yates county, Sept 14, 1818, settled 1829, has been assessor and highway commissioner, and present excise commissioner, wife Leora Humphrey born Chenango County, June 2, 1815, married Apr 23, 1823, six children, Emily, Sidney, Elsie, Solon H, Eugene B, Martha V.

Wilhelm, William B, PO Conesus Center, farmer, 63 acres, born Milo, Yates County, Oct 15, 1825, settled 1829, first wife Pharazina Allen, born Conesus Jan 13, 1831, married 1839, died Feb 15, 1870, children: Rhoda A, born Jan 5, 1850, Sarah U born Aug 31, 1851, died June 22, 1856, Ella C born Oct 23, 1853, Mary A born Feb 17, 1856, died Apr 17, 1857, George W born Jan 30, 1858, died Apr 8, 1865, 2nd wife Mary N Thompson, born Groveland, Aug 17, 1831, married Apr 6, 1875.

History of Livingston County, New York, with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers, by James H. Smith, assisted by Hume H. Cale, Pub 1881

Contributed by: Joyce Phillips, Madison, WI