Select Wisdom Miscellany

Here are some Wisdom stories and accounts over the years:

William Wisdom of Glynde in Sussex

In 1788 William Wisdom purchased Pear Tree Cottage.  He was then described as a carpenter, but not only did he run the malthouse but also the village coal merchant’s business from these premises.  Wisdom rented a wharf by Glynde Bridge river where coal and other materials could be landed by barge.

He took out a mortgage on his property in 1802, but appears to have struggled to meet the repayments. This may have been because the government had imposed a malt tax to help finance the struggle against Napoleon and the custom of cottagers brewing their own beer had fallen into disuse.

Wisdom sold his property to the Glynde estate in 1815 but continued to occupy part of the house.  His wife Lucy died in 1818.  After that time he appears to have left the village.  He died in Cambridge in 1841.

Wisdoms in the 1881 Census


An Alternative Wisdom Line in America

There is alternative genealogical line that was posited by George W. Wisdom in his 1910 book Genealogy of the Wisdom Family.   He wrote:

Abner Wisdom was born near the border of Wales around the year 1675.  Although it is not known who or when he married it is believed he married at a young age.  He was a man of high intellectual powers and was a member of the House of Commons during the reign of George II.  He was a very brilliant lawyer and was reputedly quite influential among his colleagues.

Abner had five sons - Brinsley Mortimer, Pollard William, Francis Torrence, Abner Jnr, and Tavner.  The three elder sons emigrated to America sometime around 1730 and settled in Virginia.  Later they moved and took up land near present day Dansville, Kentucky.  These brothers were the first of the name of Wisdom to come to America.“

Critics today wonder whether some of these people ever existed.  The author can be forgiven because he didn't have the resources that are now taken for granted. He could only rely upon correspondence with living people. Consequently anything he said about events more than two or three generations before his time has to be read with some degree of skepticism.

Wisdoms in Chattanooga

The following article was written in 2009 locally about Hamilton county pioneers in Tennessee. 

“In 1853, when Chattanooga was “a struggling town of about two thousand inhabitants,” Abner J. Wisdom arrived here “practically penniless” from Arkansas.  Up to the time of the Civil War, he was in the livery business.  Later, he also became a builder, large property owner, and pioneer of the streetcar lines.  

He was born in 1826 in Floyd county Georgia, the son of Jesse Wisdom, a farmer and Virginia native. His mother was Elizabeth Griffin whose family was from South Carolina.  He had a brother, Frank Wisdom, who also came to Chattanooga.  He attended a dance at a house on Market Street near Seventh and was shot and killed after a quarrel.  A sister, Julia Wisdom Strickland, also lived in Chattanooga.   Another brother, John Wisdom, lived at Hokes Bluff, Alabama, as did a sister Mary Wisdom Wright."

The Paul Revere of the Confederacy

There is a marker in John Henry Wisdom’s home town of Hokes Bluff, Alabama that was erected by the citizens of Rome, Georgia.  It reads as follows:

“On the night of May 2nd and the morning of May 3rd, 1863, John Wisdom rode 67 miles from Gadsden, Ala. to Rome, Ga. under very harassing conditions, to warn the citizens there of Colonel A. D. Streight’s proposed march to burn and sack the city, Rome being a stronghold of the Confederacy having an iron works and supply depot. Through this man’s efforts barricades were erected leading to the eventual surrender of Colonel Streight to General Bedford Forrest.

John Wisdom lived his last day here and is buried nearby.”

John Wisdom had been born in Green county, Georgia and had moved to Gadsden, Alabama just before the Civil War.  There he ran a ferry across the Coosa river.  Federal troops destroyed his ferry during the conflict.  On questioning the troops he learnt that four regiments of Federal troops were en-route to Rome, Georgia to capture the garrison there.

To warn them he traveled the 65 miles from Gadsen to Rome in 7½ hours, using six horses and one mule that farmers provided him along the way.  He was able to arrive 18 hours before the first Federal Scouts came.

After the threat was over the citizens of Rome held a great celebration and John Henry Wisdom was officially proclaimed the "Savior of Rome."  He was "presented with a substantial purse and a handsome costly gift of silver service."

Wisdom Misfortunes During the Civil War and After

Lee Wisdom farmed on a small hill farm in Tennessee.  Just after the Civil War began, he knew he would be called into the armed service so he went out to raise feed and food for his family while he was in service. 

Several weeks after he left, on a cold rainy day, northern soldiers raided his household and farm taking everything they could carry on their horses, the sacks of wheat they could not carry were cut open and dumped out onto the ground.  In trying to retrieve some of the wheat, his wife became sick with pneumonia.  He was informed of her illness and given leave to return home.  En route home he was bushwhacked by northern troops and killed.  His wife died a few days later, leaving two little boys as orphans. 

The two orphans, Billy and Lee, lived with their uncle Jessie for a while but then ran away because they were being treated so badly.  After three weeks they journeyed to another uncle's house.  Their only food in those three weeks were wild blackberries and gooseberries. They were practically naked, very weak and almost sick from ticks and other insect bites. Still this uncle Sipe was very glad to see them and took them in as part of the family. 

In 1880 the two boys left Tennessee by wagon train to Texas.  The younger, Lee, married, returned to Tennessee and later moved onto White county, Arkansas.  His son Walter Wisdom, who was born in Tennessee in 1894 and died in Arkansas in 1988, wrote his reminiscences in White County Wisdom.

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