From Susan Bear’s Album: John M. Wisherd

Hagerstown photographer Bascom W. T. Phreaner took this carte de visite portrait of a seated John M. Wisherd on the 10th of February 1870.

I found a John M. Wisherd, born 24 September 1847 in Pennsylvania, living with his family in Washington County in 1850. He seems about the right age for this photo. John’s parents were farmers Jacob Wisherd (b. abt. 1817, Pa.) and Catherine (Stahl) Wisherd (b. abt. 1822, Pa.).

What’s the connnection to Susan Bear? My hunch, based on a Maryland marriage record, is that John’s uncle William Wisherd (b. November 1829, Pa.) married Susan Bear’s sister Lydia Bear (1828-1865).

I think of them as the “wandering Wisherds,” because they were always moving on. In 1860, William and Lydia were farming in Fulton County, Illinois. They had two little daughters, Elizabeth and Mary. It was here that Lydia died at the age of 37.

Other family members had also migrated west: Jacob and Catherine Wisherd and all their children, including John. By 1870, their farm was in McDonough County, Illinois, and John was running it with his widowed mother.

John married Mary Drake Hatch, a widow with two children, about 1878, but they did not remain in McDonough County. By 1900, they were farming in Cottonwood Falls, Chase County, Kansas. They had four children of their own, Minnie, Floyd, Perry and Ida.

Again they moved west: finally, to 17th Street, in Los Angeles. Minnie had married and had a son, Edgar Heintz.  Perry was a coffee and tea merchant, and Floyd was selling shoes.

John M. Wisherd, now widowed,  last appears in the census in 1920, still living in Los Angeles with some of his children. I believe this young Washington County farmer with the far-away gaze came to his final rest here where the west ends.