When I saw the prompt for Week 1 of the 2023 version of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Johnson Crow, one thought jumped into my head, but alas, I wrote about that in my 2021 Week 26 Conflict post. Then there are all the usual suspects… Andrew Blair, Suzanna Akers, Mazie Warner… to name a few off the top of my head. And then it hit me, a man I’ve been curious about, a man who got his name in the newspaper for not necessarily the best of reasons (can you say moonshine?), so for this the first week of 2023 I will write about my 2nd-great-grandfather, Jonas Wise as a person I’d like to meet.
This is a photo of my 2nd-great-grandfather, Jonas Wise. He just looks to me like a very nice man. I don’t recall too many stories about him from my Grandma (Anna Maria Morgart) as he had already passed away before she was born. The one story I do remember was when my Grandma mentioned his marriage to Anna Maria Leighty, there was an age difference, it was probably not as much as she may have been thinking, Anna Maria was 4 years older than Jonas, but there is an age difference with my husband and I, and when I first began being interested in him, my Grandma likened it to their relationship, showing that even when the woman was older, the marriage could work. (She also went on to say that since women live longer than men, not sure if this is true, but it was in her world as she, her mother, and her granny all lived longer than their husbands by a good twenty years), she was optimistic that my husband and I may die at the same time. Only time will tell.
Jonas Wise was born 3 March 1855 to Philip Wise and Barbara Waite in Liberty, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. He was the 6th of 9 known children, the others being Elvina, William, John, Sarah, Margaret, Henry, Emmanual, and Mary Ann. In the 1850 Census Phillp was listed as a farmer but 10 years later in the 1860 and 1870 Censuses he is a coal miner.
Jonas married Anna Maria Leighty around 1875 with their oldest child, Henry James, being born on 3 August 1876 in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Jonas and Anna had a total of 14 children, with 10 dying at birth. Their next surviving child was Riley born 25 February 1885, then Mary Ann born 25 September 1888, Margaret Dora born 11 February 1891, and lastly Hannah born 14 March 1894 (I have no record of her death, and she is not listed on the 1900 Census so she must have passed away before the turn of the century).
Living on the Edge
In the 1880 Census Jonas’ occupation was listed as Coal Miner, in 1900 he was a day laborer, and then in 1910 a woodchopper. But along with mining, day laboring, and chopping wood, Jonas Wise had a side gig. He made his own liquor and got caught selling it.
But he wasn’t caught just once, he was caught multiple times. And there is nothing like having a headline of “Whiskey Dealers in Trouble” and the first individual mentioned is your ancestor.
The offense in Huntingdon County was actually written up in a variety of local newspapers. I’m sure that made my great-great-grandmother a happy woman.
What Would I Ask Him?
One of the first questions I’d ask would be how did he become deaf? Or was he deaf his entire life? It’s not noted on any census over the years, but it was noted on the bottom of a photo that my 1st cousin once removed, Hope Dipko, had at her home. (Someone left the photo behind at a Wise Family Reunion she had attended one year).
I suppose I’d ask if making hard cider was worth the fines and jail time he often endured when he was caught? Was he caught more often than what was printed in the newspapers? I’d almost like to give him a glimpse into the future of the home brewing people do of beers and such now and wonder how impressed he would be?
I wonder what he would think about his daughter, Margaret Dora “Maggie”, living to be 96 years old when he only lived to be 57? (He died of pneumonia on 12 January 1913). I’d ask him the question I’d also like to ask his wife, was George Mullen her son (and his stepson)? She is listed as his mother sorta on his marriage license (I say sorta as it’s the wrong name but I’m guessing that is who he means – it’s Martha Wise with the father’s name unknown), and she is who he was living with in her later years, and it’s alluded to on the above photo.
And lastly, I’d ask him for any advice for me as I enter my 50’s this year. It would be interesting to find out what information would be the same and also that which would be entirely different from the changes in technology and just life in general over the past 100 years.
If you would like to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogical writing challenge click here. It’s fun to take the time to write about your ancestors that you research, and you don’t have to do it each and every week.
Thank you for spending part of your day with me!