My maternal 6th great-grandfather, Sheffield Wilcox, Sr. would travel over 1,000 miles in his lifetime. What could I learn about his life as he grew up and became a man as the colonies began to desire and fight for freedom from Great Britain?
Sheffield was born on 2 April 1746 in Washington County, Rhode Island to Edward and Esther Wilcox. Sheffield would meet Eunice Ross and they would marry on 11 Dec 1771. Their children would also be born there before deciding to leave for parts west.
In the 1774 Rhode Island Census Sheffield his wife and daughter Lois are living in Richmond, Rhode Island, British America.
Following the Revolutionary War the Wilcoxes, Sheffield Sr., his wife Eunice and children Lois (my 5th great-grandmother), Thomas, Rowland, Freeman, Sheffield Jr., Amy, Desire, Eunice and Jemima first went to the Cooperstown, New York area on Otsego Lake and remained a short time before moving down the River. I wonder why they decided to move to the Cooperstown area in the first place and why they then left?
In the 1800 US Federal Census Sheffield his wife and 5 children are living in Burington, Otsego, New York. Otsego county was officially established in February 1791. The town of Burlington, NY was organized 10 April 1792. Burlington was an area with ridges being about 400 feet above the valleys. In 1795 then Governor of New York, George Clinton, established common schools throughout New York State.
Next the family went down the Susquehanna River to Monroe township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. They lived there on the west side of the Towanda creek, about ¾ mile below the Monroeton bridge. Sheffield and his sons scouted out locations in the area called Albany for their new home.
In the Spring of 1804 Sheffield moved his family to Albany, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. To get to this new home in Albany township they had to cross the Towanda creek 11 times. Sheffield and three of his four sons were among the first group of settlers in Albany township, PA. According to Clement Heverly in his book Pioneer and Patriot Families of Bradford County Pennsylvania 1770-1800 “the country was a wild and dreary prospect, inhabited only by savage animals. The woods were full of deer and brook trout were found in myriads in the streams.” Their nearest neighbors were several miles away. Sheffield built his cabin on a little plateau. The cabin reportedly had all the novelties of pioneer style and was a one story building floored with split plank with a huge fireplace at one end.
In the 1810 US Federal Census Sheffield, his wife and 6 members of his family are living in Towanda, Luzerene County, Pennsylvania. Bradford County was created in February 1810 from parts of Lycoming and Luzerne Counties. Census day was August 6th, 1810. Interesting that the County was still listed as Luzerne County in the Census.
His wife of 42 years, Eunice, died suddenly on 29 Oct 1813. Sheffield gave his house to son Rowland after the death of Eunice and continued to reside there with his son and family.
In the 1820 US Federal Census Sheffield and 6 family members are living in Asylum, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
Sheffield died a few months short of his 80th birthday on 27 Feb 1826 in Albany, Bradford, PA. According to Heverly’s book Sheffield was described as a “very strong man, medium height and well proportioned with the reputation of being a great worker”. Sheffield is buried in the Wilcox Stevenson Cemetery in New Albany, Bradford County, PA.
I still find it so interesting to see how much my ancestors moved around in the late 1700-early 1800s. Sheffield moved by horse from Washington County, RI to Burlington, NY to Albany, PA a distance of over 1,000 miles.
If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,