Sem Wissler

Sem Wissler

Male 1819 - 1865  (46 years)

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  • Name Sem Wissler 
    Born 21 Mar 1819  Clay, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 18 May 1865  Salem, Wellington, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Elora Cemetery, Elora, Wellington, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I645062410  Eby/Aebi and Bernethy Family
    Last Modified 18 Jan 2014 

    Father Jacob Wissler,   b. 12 Nov 1776, Clay, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Apr 1853, Clay, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years) 
    Mother Anna Eby,   b. 09 Sep 1777, Warwick, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Apr 1829, Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 51 years) 
    Married 25 Mar 1800 
    Family ID F509689728  Group Sheet

    Family Jane Robertson,   b. 15 Oct 1826, Largie, Insch Parrish, Aberdeenshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Jun 1907, Wellington County, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years) 
    Last Modified 18 Jan 2014 
    Family ID F246729428314  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 21 Mar 1819 - Clay, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 18 May 1865 - Salem, Wellington, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Elora Cemetery, Elora, Wellington, Ontario Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Sem Wissler
    Sem Wissler
    From Scott Buschlen

    Headstones
    Sem Wissler
    Sem Wissler
    Personal Collection

  • Notes 
    • Sem Wissler, founder of Salem, Ontario, Canada.
      Sem Wissler was born in Clay Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on March 21, 1819. He was the youngest in the family of Jacob Wissler and his wife Anna Eby; and a descendant of one Jacob Wissler and his wife who emigrated from Switzerland to Pennsylvania in 1720. Sem's father Jacob was one of the many Germans who, during the first few years of the 19th century, bought land in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Between 1802 and 1805 he bought over 7000 acres in Waterloo, and although he sent his sons to Canada he remained in Pennsylvania on the same farm until his death.
      He gradually sold all the land in Canada with the exception of two farms and in 1834 he gave the two farms to his son John, who had learned the trade of tanner. John came to Waterloo in 1834 and built a tannery in Bridgeport known as Eagle Tannery. In 1837 John's brother Levi came to Bridgeport and joined as a partner in Eagle Tannery. On the 24th of August 1839, Sem Wissler came to Eagle Tannery and worked for his brothers until 1841. His father Jacob was anxious for him to come to Pennsylvania and take the homestead, but Sem preferred to stay in Canada and on the 4th of May 1841 he received $2,650 from his father and bought out his brother Levi's partnership in the Tannery.
      By 1843 the tan bark was becoming scarce in the neighborhood of Eagle Tannery and Sem on different trips through the Nichol Township to the town of Fergus to visit Jane Robertson, whom he married on the 6th of August 1843, saw opportunites for water power on the Irvine River. On October 23, 1844 he brought his brother John to look the area over, and John was evidently impressed for he immediately wrote an offering to buy lot 16 and the west half of lot 17 on the 11th concession of Upper Nichol for $700. Sem Wissler them completed an arrangement he had made for the north east half of lot 16 and the south west half of lot 15 and hired someone to clear a part of the land and erect a log shanty for himself and family. On the 9th of June 1845, Sem, Jane and their son J R took up residence in the log shanty. He called his place Salem.
      During that first season he built the dam on the river, the flume, the saw-mill, and part of the tannery. In 1846 the tannery was completed and part of this large building was fitted as a dwelling, part was used as a store, another part for the shoe shop, and the rest for the tannery.
      From the beginning there was a great trade done in Salem. The tannery and saw mill were worked to the utmost capacity, the general store did a large business, and the shoe shop employed from fifteen to twenty shoemakers. Such was the beginning of Salem.
      In 1848 Mr. Wissler, though not a resident, was elected by the residents of the Township of Peel as their representative in the District Council and on October 8th, 1849, he secured the passage of a By Law for the purpose of opening the present road between Elora and Salem.
      By 1857 the partnership with his brother having expired each member of the firm then pursued his own course. His brother John and brother Levi both returned to Virginia, while Sem remained in Salem retaining the saw mill, tannery, shoe shop, store, farm and other property. As business increased Salem grew to be a thriving village with a large number of citizens.
      Mr. Wissler left no stone unturned to provide for the continued prosperity of Salem. It was carefully and thoroughly founded. The one object of his life was to build a lasting village. However, almost twenty years after he had arrived in Salem, on the 18th of May 1865 he was rising from his bed when he fell back and died immediately. He was buried in a vault erected in the Elora Cemetery on land sold by him to the corporation of the village of Elora the year before. Mr. Wissler's death was a great calamity to Salem from which it has never recovered. Sem left a wife, five sons and two daughters.

      Read more about Sem Wissler in The Early History of Elora, Ontario and Vicinity by John Robert Connon 1930.


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